Sunday, December 11, 2022

Community Golf Course-Hills (Dayton, OH)

My 400th blog is a course only a muni rat like me would know. It’s history dates back to the early 1900s when the land was owned by John Patterson, the founder of National Cash Register. The original nine holes was designed by golf professional Joe Nicholl. Most of the play was coming from NCR employees, and it was commonly referred as NCR Country Club. When the course was awarded the 1924 US Publinx Championship, Alex Nipper Campbell came over from Moraine and did some modifications to make the course more challenging. 

(The 167 yard downhill par three eighth has terrific views of both the Hills and Dales courses. A bunker short left and a grass swale right guard against short shots bouncing on. Note the old fashion shelter in the background.) 

Community has two courses named Hills and Dales. The property is bowl shaped with the elevated terrain on the outer half and the flatter terrain in the middle. The shorter Dales occupies most of the middle while the Hills plays up and along the hillier topography. The land that the Hills course rolls over is terrific! It’s exciting and engages the golfer with all sorts of shots and options to advance the ball to the green. The course plays across the slope, oppose to going up and down, and the greens are atop natural rises. There’s cuts and high spots that let one take advantage of gravity and hit the speed slots that nature has given. Several greens are hidden by the flowing topography that places a hillock short of the green. Speaking of the greens, they break towards the clubhouse, and what can look like a receptive target actually slopes front to back. Little ridges are hard to distinguish and can confuse the best putter on the appropriate line. 

(The 372 yard par four third plays uphill to a right to left fairway where a hard draw on the right can gain significant yards. The shot is then uphill to a green that falls away on the right. It’s a very good hole!) 

(The 370 yard par four fourth plays downhill to a right to left fairway that bowls out at the bottom…

…this view shows the fairway gathering balls further down the fairway. The trees are in play for a pull or hook…
…from the fairway it’s a semi blind approach. A little rise in the back makes for testy putts.) 

(The 426 yard par four seventh is the longest two shotter at the Hills. Look how it plays downhill before tumbling back up. To the right is the 543 yard par five fourteenth. The course has some beautiful long views.) 

Like many courses from this era, the routing is a bit unusual and back to back par threes at eleven and twelve gives the golfer three one shotters in a five hole stretch (8,11,12). They are the lynchpin that brings golfers down to the clubhouse and then up to the rolling hills to complete the inward nine. The two par fives on this side eat up a lot of land and allows the course to circle behind the clubhouse and finish with a thrilling downhill hole. 

(Nine and ten are the only holes to play in the central part of the property where most of the Dales is located. This is the green on the 373 yard par four tenth. The left side is partially hidden behind the rise that can be seen in foreground. The right half is visible but it’s all carry to attack any pin there.) 

(The 174 yard uphill par three eleventh is a total beast. Any shot that lands short will roll backwards forty to fifty yards…
…the green is two tiered and plays at least two clubs longer. I love the long views across the property. The green to the right is the eleventh on the Dales, a par three that plays about 100 yards.) 

(The 180 yard par three twelth follows with a beautiful downhill shot to well protected green. Three traps vigilantly guard the putting surface and the left one is 10-12 feet below the green. Eleven and twelve are complete opposites of each other and totally makes the back to back routing work. Going 3-3 will gain a strokes on the field.) 

(The 543 yard par five fourteenth plays high on the ridge before dropping down to this benched green. Note the golfer on the path going to the next tee. The plunging fifteenth awaits our hopefully made birdie putt.) 

(The 356 yard fifteenth drops significantly down towards the green. For the long hitter, it’s possible to drive the green or be just short of it…
…the putting surface slopes towards the left and the rear half falls away to the back. Players will feed the ball to the pin by hitting right of the flag. As simple as it looks, this short hole will not see many birdies.) 

The Hills course at Community is just terrific! It exemplifies the cool routing and demands that architects in the 1920s had to find. I played with a volunteer named Ron who explained to me the nuisances one encounters during the summer and how much different it plays compared to a damp fall day. It made me smile imagining all the cool shots you have to hit. Put this one on the list for the Dayton/Springfield area! The Hills is a solid 5 (good)(worth driving an hour to play). 

(A long walk up the steps leads us to the eighteenth tee where both the Hills and Dales share a tee box…
…the Hills is on the right while Dales plays down the left. It’s a 359 yard par four that is a good chance to snag a final birdie to close out your found. One could bail out left into the Dales fairway, but two pine trees makes this a difficult shot into the green. It’s one of the most unusual finishes I’ve ever seen. I’m sure “Fore” is commonly heard here!) 

[We played the back third of each tee box which is probably close to the Hill’s full length. Like most winter golf, the short game shots were much easier since the ball doesn’t run out past the hole. This is offset by the difficulty in making putts. I drove the ball very well at Community but my iron game was not as strong as it normally is. I felt a 76 with good shots mixed in was a good day. We did pick up putts but golf in December means not grinding over 2 footers.]

(The Dales enjoys some of the Hills topography but most of it occupies the flattish valley terrain. The pro told me the Dales was lined with Ash Trees but the emerald bore killed them and which leaves the Dales wide open. It’s just over 5200 from the tips, so it’s great for seniors and others who don’t hit it far. Community is a very good 36 hole facility.)

[Over the past few months I’ve walked through a few hiking parks that used to be golf courses, and every year we seem to lose a few more. The city of Dayton closed two of their municipal courses, Madden and Kittyhawk, when the pandemic hit. This leaves Community as their only one. Thankfully it has 36 holes. I sometimes feel as time moves on that these city run courses might be the only places left for us that don’t want to join a country club.]