Location: Galena, OH
Architect: Jay Morrish & Tom Weiskopf
June 20, 2009
Columbus, OH is one of Americaâs great golf cities and, at the time of my visit, home to four Top 100 courses. My friend Larry Berle who has played the Top 100 himself and wrote a book about it was kind enough to arrange for both of us to play at Double Eagle Club and The Golf Club with one of his friends who happens to be a member at both places.
I arrived in Columbus on Friday night and the weather forecast was pretty iffy for Saturday. For once I was prepared and brought my rain gear in the event that it was needed. Upon checking into my hotel I got on my computer I found emails from both Larry and from our host telling me that Larry was unable to get a standby flight out of Minneapolis and was going to miss the weekend. Air travel is always an adventure.
The next day the weather was perfect and my host picked me up at the hotel for the drive to Double Eagle Club in Galena, OH. On the way there I learned some of the background on this club. Double Eagle Club was the dream of just one man, John H. McConnell. Mr. McConnell was a successful Columbus business man with numerous business interests. One of those interests was in an investment with a treasure hunter. When I say treasure hunter I want to be clear that yes, I am talking about one of those people who goes off in search of sunken/buried treasure and has a business model based on the premise of finders keepers, losers weepers. As these guys do, Mr. McConnellâs new business partner collected a bunch of money from various investors and promptly ran through it with nothing to show for his partners. When he returned to his supporters asking for more money Mr. McConnell put a little more skin in the game while most of the others did not. Low and behold the treasure hunter struck gold . . . literally. He found a bounty of gold coins that were worth a small fortune. Forged into the coins were an image of two eagles flying. The image of the two eagles on the coin inspired the name and logo (see the logo image at the top of this post) for Mr. McConnell’s new golf club. I suspect that the club was funded in part by his nifty little investment as well.
Double Eagle club is not one that I would call a daily play club. The majority of the members at Double Eagle are national members and of those who are local, few of them consider Double Eagle to be their home club. The result of this is that when we arrived at 10AM on a beautiful Saturday at the peak of golf season we were the only players on the grounds.
Double Eagle has an interesting rule, as well as one rule glaringly not present, that are quite unusual for a golf club in the 21st Century. First the interesting rule is that long pants are required to play at Double Eagle. Unless the temperature is greater than 90 degrees long pants must be worn on the golf course. Being somewhat of a traditionalist I loved the idea of this, however, I must admit that about the time we made the turn to the second nine I wasnât so sure I was a fan of the rule anymore. It got pretty hot in late June wearing long pants. At the other end of spectrum there is no rule barring cell phone use at Double Eagle. Members and guests can use their cell phones anywhere on the club grounds. In my experience these are two fairly unusual, not to mention contrasting, rules at this club.
Upon arrival the locker room attendant immediately took my golf shoes to âclean them upâ. They are very protective of the grass at Double Eagle and are careful to make sure that the players coming to the club do not have alien grasses on their shoes that could infect the native grass on the course. The locker room attendant also replaced every one of my spikes because I had Black Widow brand spikes and they feel that those particular spikes are too hard on the greens. Thats what I call attention to detail!
Now that my shoes were brought up to spec with the Double Eagle guidelines we met our caddie and found our way to the first tee. At this point we did happen to notice one other group on the course who were making the turn from the 9th hole to the 10th. That was the last time we saw anyone.
The first hole is a 390 yard par 4 from the member tees. Below is a look at the 1st green from the fairway. You really have to hit your drive in the middle of the fairway if you want hit your approach onto the green. Its a little narrow.
The 2nd hole is a short par 5 at 475 yards that is definitely reachable in two. I went for it and had a nasty plugged lie in the bunker that protects the front of the green. The spot where the below photo was taken from is about where you would play your third shot from if you were laying up.
The photo below is of the approach to the 5th green. This hole is a 415 yard par 4. Its a little intimidating. Thereâs really no room to be short on this shot. Its an excellent hole.
The 7th hole is in the picture below is another one where you cannot be short on your approach. This hole is a short par 4 at 360 yards. It should have been an easy shot but both of us made an absolute mess of this great hole.
The 175 yard 16th hole pictured below is a great par 3. Note the flag location. I played for the fat of the green here. I didnât see any need to get mixed up with that water.
The 17th hole in the photo below is a fantastic short par 4 that is driveable for really big hitters at 340. The risk comes in the way of the water down the right side and the trees on the left. Although it only looks like one tree in the photo, it is actually several. A perfect drive will go between the trees and the water and bounce right onto the green. I was unable to confirm it in the pro shop and my host was not aware of the story, but word has it that the clubâs head pro carded a 1 here for the only double eagle to ever be recorded at Double Eagle Club.
Below is the 18th hole which is a bit of a quirky 525 yard par 5. Because of the location of the water the 2nd shot will often play as a very short 120 or maybe less lay up. It really takes a blast from the tee to have a chance getting home in two and with the water in play. Most players will have the short layup for a second shot.
The Double Eagle Club is quite a place. Mr. McConnellâs goal was âTo enjoy the game of golf in near perfect surroundsâ. I think he succeeded.