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.
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.