The late John Henderson McConnell, founder of the Worthington Industries steel company, established a private hideaway for friends and staff on former farmland near the state capital of Ohio with a view to using it as a fishing retreat.
He later invited the design partnership of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish to transform part of the 300-acre site into a top quality private golf course and that’s exactly what they did, with the 18-hole Double Eagle course opening to critical acclaim in 1991.
Although mature trees surround the property, the layout actually has a relatively open feel to it with holes routed around some lovely natural ravines and ponds. And because the fairways lie on the land as it was found, there’s no trickery or sleight of hand to be found in the design.
A round here really gets going on the long par four 5th, where the approach across a ravine to a small target is bound to get the pulse racing. The 9th hole ends the front nine in fine style, featuring as it does a split fairway and enormous, spectacle sand traps in advance of the green.
Water plays more of a part in proceedings on the inward half, especially on the final two holes. The penultimate hole is a driveable par four beside a lake where trouble can be avoided by taking the safer bail out wide of the water. On the last hole, the fairway is divided by a central bunker, creating separate landing areas from where an approach across water can be made to the home green.
I have been fortunate to play Double Eagle a few times. I consider it to be one of the top three courses designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish. It is a course one could play many times and never tire of it.
The conditioning is exceptional from the practice range to the putting green to the golf course extending to a truly marvelous nine-hole par 3 course. In these days when naturalism reigns as a desired quality, perhaps Double Eagle is almost too pristine/immaculate. However, the trees and the ravine do provide the course with several holes that makes one feel as if they are playing in solitude and in nature.
The course is essentially flat, although a few holes play over a significant and very penal ravine. Ponds come into play until the end of the round on the final four holes.
From the Back tees the course is 7300 yards, par 72, and rated 74.9/139. From the member tees it is 6535 yards, rated 71.8/134 which I found to be a little low. There are two sets of lesser tees. I have always played the member tees, although with the heavy rains the day before the course played well over a hundred yards longer.
1 – par 4 445/390. This is a difficult starting hole. It plays as a dogleg left with the second shot having to carry a ravine to a green that sits 20 yards on the other side of the ravine. The fairway has a large bunker on the left and a bigger bunker on the right that is shared with the tenth hole. One has to trust their club selection and not be timid or try to steer the ball to a desired outcome as there is no real bailout area here. The trees narrow at the ravine/stream to about half the size of the green. Behind the green is a large bunker for those who try to hit a longer shot to avoid the ravine. An ideal shot will have 150 yards to the hole and be in the center of the fairway. The green is tilted back to front and has several depressions in it. A bogey on this hole is not a horrible way to start the round and a par is hard earned. It is one of the more penal starting holes I have ever played.
2 – par 5 545/475. The second easiest hole on the course. There are six bunkers in this fairway. Longer hitters can easily reach the final one on the left which is backstopped by a collection of trees. There is a small alternate fairway to the right of the right side bunkers that can provide a better line into the hole. A small stream crosses the fairway about 200 yards out from the green. On the left side of the green is a 35 yard long bunker that begins about 25 yards short of the green and continues down most of the left side. There are two small pot bunkers on the right front to a green that is angled right to left. The green is two-tiered with a depression front left making any putt downhill very speedy to a front pin location. This is a hole where eagle to double bogey is very possible.
3 – par 4 415/390. Reversing direction from the second, this hole plays as a slight dogleg left. Trees line most of the right side, stopping about 70 yards short of the green. The same collection of trees on the right of the second hole can come into play on the left side of the fairway for the tee shot. Near the trees on the left is a fairway bunker with an opposite bunker on the right. The green is artfully angled right to left with a bunker at the entire left side and another back left. This is a nice golf hole.
4 – par 3 220/160. One better be sharp on this hole as three bunkers are on the left side with the first one about fifteen yards short of the green, while a large bunker is on the right side. The green is thin and angled left to right making a back right pin position very difficult. This is another sloping green to the right and back to front. It is the 17th handicap on the course but a par is hard to come by given the width of the green.
5 – par 4 465/415. The number one index on the course is a brute of a hole. This hole turns to the right and is tree lined on both sides. The green sits across a ravine with a fronting bunker right and another on the entire right side. If one does not get their tee shot on the left side of the fairway, they will be blocked by the trees on the right and have to hit a fade into the green or lay-up to pitch over the ravine. The green has run-offs as it is on higher ground after the ravine. A par on this hole feels like a birdie.
6 – par 5 540/505. For some reason this hole suits my eye as I find it one of the easier holes on the golf course. This par 5 has a reasonably generous fairway at the landing area. The hole bends to the left offering a single fairway bunker before the start of the fairway. The hole is heavily tree lined on both sides but the approach shot is to the widest part of the fairway. The green complex is a good one, surrounded by four bunkers with a small stream about fifteen yards short of the green on the right. The green is one of the easier ones to read.
7 – par 4 380/360. This hole is a mirror image of the fifth, although much shorter. Much like the fifth you must stay left off the tee. I go as close as I dare to the left side as the ball will bounce back to the middle or stay left. Down the right side and middle the access is blocked to the green by a tree that covers half of the fairway and a lay-up shot is the only option. After the ravine is a bunker front left. The green is angled around another bunker middle left which creates some compelling back left pin placements. However, the toughest pin placements are on the right side because of the angle into the green. The ravine seems wider here than the previous ravine. My understanding is that the tree on the right is the most talked about “penalty” on the golf course. I think it should stay merely because otherwise the hole is too short despite the artfully designed green.
8 – par 3 205/180. I felt this to be the second hardest par 3 on the golf course requiring a long shot across the ravine with trees surrounding both sides of the green. There is also a large bunker front left of the green. The green has various mounds and depressions in it. It is a fine par 3.
9 – par 4 485/410. The safe play on this hole is to play left of the six bunkers but that brings both the trees on the left into play and a longer second shot to the green. The confident player flies their ball through the gap in the two bunkers they can see. These two bunkers are perched on a rise which blocks most of the view of the other four bunkers. At the green are two bunkers front left that appear to be right at the green but are actually ten-fifteen yards short and also placed on a slight rise to block the view of the left side of the green. There is another small bunker front right. This green has a vertical spine and definite back to front tilt. It is another very good green complex and one of the best holes on the golf course.
10 – par 4 405/370. Going by the first tee, the tenth hole is one of the easier holes on the course. One has to avoid the very large fairway bunker on the left that is shared with the first hole. There is a single tree on the right that can be a nuisance for one’s approach shot to the green. The green has a bunker front left and two at the rear. It is an odd shaped green with a run-off at the front. After playing some very difficult holes, it is nice to play this hole and the next.
11 – par 5 585/520. This is my favorite par 5 on the golf course. There is a single bunker left on the fairway for the tee shot but a very wide fairway so one should be able to avoid it. The next play is to hit as far left as one dares to provide the best line into the green which is sharply angled to the right and hidden behind a rise in the land where a long bunker with many fingers is placed. At the outer corner of the dogleg there are two bunkers. If coming in from the right side over the bunker on the hill, you will have a blind shot. One thinks the green is more right than it actually is and if one makes a mistake on the line into the green they can find one of five bunkers either at the front right or on the right side. The left side of the green has a 3-4 feet run-off. I like how the hole reveals itself with the approach shot if on the left side of the fairway. I also like the challenge of the blind third shot if on the right side of the fairway. The green has good inner contours.
12 – par 4 440/400. This is one of the more interesting tee shots on the golf course. There are three bunkers on the left set on a rise. The bigger hitters can carry all of them but average length hitters must play out to the right of them. There is a bunker short right that is easily carried but causes a bit of eye distortion. The green is extremely well defended at its front by a large, almost waste-like bunker on the front left. This bunker is about 50 yards long and 30 yards wide. There is a sizeable bunker front right. The hole is summed up as hit the fairway and hit the green or you will likely bogey it.
13 – par 3 170/120. The green is equal in height to the tee but plays over lower ground. The green is very narrow with a large set of bunkers down the entire left side. There is a bunker well short of the green on the left that I cannot understand why it is there. The bunkering continues to the back left. There is a single bunker on the right. This is the fun par 3 on the golf course.
14 – par 4 405/380. One looks on the tee to see if the flag is up at the tiki-bar made by the golf superintendent behind his house overlooking a nice sized pond. It is complete with kayaks, a grill, beach chairs, a bar, and signs/license plates from just about everywhere. As for the golf hole, it is a dogleg left with a large bunker complex on the outer corner. The green offers the ability to run a ball onto it if one avoids the small bunker front middle. There is another bunker on the right. Behind the green is taller grass and trees so it is best not to go long. The green is one of the trickier ones on the golf course; it looks easy to read but has a bigger break than the eye can spot.
15 – par 4 470/440. The hardest hole on the back nine due to the lake that one has to cross on this dogleg left. The more you take on, the more you will either be penalized if you land in the water or you will be rewarded with a substantially shorter approach shot. There are three bunkers scattered down the outer part of the turn. The safe play is to aim between the first and second bunkers. The bigger hitters will aim just left of the final bunker. Even if one hits a good tee shot, they are likely left with a long second that may have to carry the large bunker on the right front/right side of the green. Thankfully this is one of the easier greens on the golf course. This is the number two index and deservedly so although the hole is not unique.
16 – par 3 190/175. You must carry the water which goes down the front of the green. If you aim left to avoid the water and still hit the edge of the green you can be left with a very long putt up a tier. There is a large bunker left of the green and two bunkers behind the green. This is the most terrifying par 3 on the golf course as the green looks very thin from the green. Going long over the bunkers will likely result in a lost ball due to the tall, thick grass behind the bunkers. John McConnell and his wife are buried between the two bunkers as he said he wanted to see if players could land their ball on the green or in the water. I guess there is an afterlife for those who play golf!
17 – par 4 335/340. The most fun hole on the course offers a decision. Go left of the trees and one is left with a relatively short shot over a center-line bunker and a large bunker left of the green. Go right off the tee and one might drive the green as it cuts 75 yards from the hole. The danger in going right is the Pomeroy Ponds that fronted the sixteenth green and are close to the right side of the fairway and green. In addition, there is a bunker that is reasonably deep where the water bends to the right. A final small bunker is behind the relatively flat green.
18 – par 4 580/525. The bigger hitters play a shot of about 100 yards over the biggest part of Pomeroy Ponds to a generous fairway where the main obstacles are the dense trees on both sides and a center-line bunker. There is a second center-line bunker about 40 yards after the first one. The safe play is to lay up before Pomeroy Ponds comes back into play for the second shot. However, one can choose to play over the pond to the fairway to the right of the green. This provides both a shorter shot and a good angle to the green. The green has a substantial rise from the beginning of the green about a third of the way in. I thought I hit a good shot about ten feet below the pin and thirty feet on the green but the ball came all the way back off the green. There are two bunkers to halfway to either side of the green which narrow the green to half the size of the front. The back side of the green offers a fall-off. It is a nice finish to the round because the green complex is very good.
I like Double Eagle a lot. It was once in Golf Magazine’s top 100 in the world and for many years was in the top 100 in the USA. Ohio is a golf-rich state which fifteen courses of the highest quality so the competition is robust. While this type of course, well-manicured, well bunkered, some very difficult holes, is out of fashion, I could play here every day and not grow tired of it. Double Eagle offers a fine mixture of difficult and easier holes. The green complexes are very good as is the fairway bunkering. There are several holes where one has to make decisions and I like that in a golf course. While it does not have as good of land as The Golf Club or Muirfield Village, it does offer a very good routing and variety of length. One has to be able to execute their shots here to score well. Scioto is a different type of course with more man-made features. In the Columbus area, among the big four this is the one that I would come to play the most often.
Double Eagle is one of the most unique places I have played with its combination of optimum course conditioning, a noteworthy routing and exclusivity. There are not many members, and the course flies the below the radar. Our caddie told me that they usually have less than 10 groups playing per day. If there were 20 total golfers on the course when I played it was a lot. The 340-acre property is also enchanting and feels like a wildlife sanctuary with broad expanses of wild flowers throughout.
The key design characteristics that stand out at Double Eagle are: 1) No two holes in the same direction; 2) The fact that your approach shots to greens often have to carry over a ravine or swale or natural plantings/flowers; 3) The greens are usually elevated and have closely shaved areas around them, and; 4) The fact that you have to think backward from the green to decide what kind of shot you have to hit. A lot of courses are said to be shot makers courses, but I found this to be one of the dominating factors to take into account while playing here. It did not seem to be a bomb and gouge layout because of the trouble in front of the greens. On more than a handful of holes you have to lay back and not hit with maximum power so that you position yourself with the correct club to the green, or so that you are not out of position on a dog-leg and block yourself out of the best approach.
I found the course to have three distinct feels to it. The first eight holes are the most distinctive holes on the property and the ones I liked the most. This part of the property also has the most elevation change. Holes 9-14 play over a flatter part of the property, although they are still quite interesting. The final four holes bring water into play and represent a challenging finish.
Like at Loch Lomond, Weiskopf and Morrish maintain the design philosophy of continually changing direction. The course plays along every point on the compass and no two holes go in the same direction, an underrated principal in golf course design. One of the courses that Weiskopf admires and that influences his design is Muirfield, which similarly, has great variation in hole directions.
Especially notable holes are the short par four 7th which plays to a green set over a swale and the sometimes drivable 17th, also a short par four.
Serious golf fanatics should put Double Eagle on their bucket list of courses to play.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
The Columbus, OH golf market is one loaded with some top tier golf offerings with Muirfield Village and The Golf Club leading the way. Double Eagle is another successful Tom Weiskopf / Jay Morrish layout but it does not have the creative holes and routing that the former design duo produced at other locations. The course is generally in "mint" condition. How good? The tees at Double Eagle run faster than the green speeds at nearly all other courses. Unfortunately, far too many people give extra value to turf conditions and not enough to assessing the architecture elements involved.
Double Eagle has the proverbial Weiskopf / Morrish driveable par-4 at the 17th but it's not in the same league as other similar holes the architectural tandem has created elsewhere. In sum -- the atmosphere is clearly golf oriented with no intrusions but the core of the overall design simply fails to provide a dimension rivaling its more noted neighbors.
by M. James Ward
Gary shared an interesting story on the 17th tee, a 355-yard par 4: Head pro Don Shimko scored a hole-in-one on 17, the only hole in one in his life and the only double eagle ever scored at Double Eagle Golf Club. The dues structure at Double Eagle is also a bit unique. There are no monthly dues, just one bill at the end of the year after the year’s expenses are tallied up. Larry Berle.