Pete Dye shifted his center of operations to Indiana during his lifetime, but he left a number of designs in his native Ohio as well. The one located farthest from Indiana is Avalon Lakes, by the Pennsylvania border near Youngstown.
It is also both one of Dye’s oldest and youngest courses in Ohio. The original was constructed during 1969 and was acquired by new ownership nearly 30 years later. That group brought Dye in to give his original greens a facelift, but instead they allowed the master to paint over his previous work. Dye had been busy in the decades since he first laid out the course, and the new model reflects the mind of a man who introduced TPC Sawgrass to the golfing world. The current layout is rife with both water and sand hazards for a player’s viewing pleasure (and playing pain). The tips at the Avalon course can be stretched to nearly 7,600 yards, if the hazards weren’t enough of a pain.
Although the course is part of a private country club, it’s also accessible to members of the general public...and not at an unreasonable rate, considering the greens fees at other Dye public-access options.
The Buckeye State is home to some of the finest golf in the USA and the depth of courses is quite impressive. One of the more underappreciated layouts for those outside Ohio is Avalon Lakes.
The Dye layout came early in Pete's career and contains plenty of the elements he excelled in providing on his layouts. The visual terror is there so golfers have to be ever mindful because a plethora of nasty bunkers can quickly trap you -- no pun intended. On the flip side is the constant presence of water -- the wet variety!
One of the aspects I enjoyed at Avalon is how Pete provided fairway movements -- the pressure on the player to "fit" the tee shot to the turning point presented is a constant element when playing.
There's also a quality quartet of pressure-packed par-3 holes. Sad to say, I wish one of them was in the shorter range -- under 175 yards. The same can be said on having a superlative short par-4 -- under 350 yards -- that really shines.
For Pete aficionados Avalon Lakes may not be in the upper echelon of courses he created, however, the sheer totality of what's provided is a clear testament to Dye's unrelenting nature in making players earn their score. When playing Avalon Lakes nothing is given away -- you'll have to earn it. I hope to return to the immediate Youngstown / Warren area later this summer and see the course again. A possible rise in my assessment may happen.
M. James Ward