The TRW Automotive company decided to match other corporate facilities like NCR and Firestone by building a first rate golf facility in the late 1960s. Around fifteen hundred acres were acquired and plans drawn up to construct three 18-hole courses but this was eventually scaled down to a 27-hole complex.
Designed by Pete Dye and his brother Roy, The TWR Course, as it was originally named, opened for business in 1972. After the property was sold to the American Golf Corporation in 1986, the name was changed to honour Milo Fowler, one of the original settlers on the land, and so Fowler’s Mill Golf Course came into being.
The facility extends to three 9-hole circuits, called Lake, River and Maple, with the former two comprising the 7025-yard premier 18-hole layout. Located less than a 45-minute drive from downtown Cleveland, it offers one of the best public golf experiences in the entire state of Ohio.
Golfers at Fowler’s Mill will immediately become acquainted with Ohio’s second-best-named natural feature, the Chagrin River (the first, unrelated, is Mt. Miserable). And, those who need that second ball off the first tee, will find the name to ring true as they top the first one. Reality, however, the waterway will provide more aesthetic benefit to the round than heartache. In truth, higher handicappers will suffer at the hands of the parkland route’s many target-golf greens...the kind of approaches that make Bethpage Black a headache for non-pros. If your tolerance for scorecard pain is low, and your handicap high, your correspondent highly recommends checking out the Cleveland metro area’s other array of nice municipal offerings.
If you’re willing to put up with Pete Dye-level beatings (guilty) or have a nice handicap (not guilty), you will struggle to find a public option more appealing within Ohio. Pete (joined by his brother Roy for this project) had finished his more-acclaimed Ohio project, The Golf Club, several years earlier, and it’s evident in visual touches, such as “grass bunkers,” maintained via vertical railroad ties rather than steep sod faces.
As usual with Dye, there are plenty of opportunities to be stupid (and/or have fun). The fourth hole makes a shepherd’s crook cape around the Front 9’s title “Lake,” inviting you to bite for the tip of the hook, you brave fish you. The same concept is exercised even more drastically at No. 8, a Par 5 that plays nearly 580 if you do the smart thing and follow the double-dogleg around patches of trees. Or, with a long drive, you can cut maybe 150 yards off by attempting to navigate an 150-or-so-yard corridor of bunkers. The aforementioned river splits both the ninth and twelfth fairways vertically, to dramatic effect. To rehash a popular complaint of the golf architecture Illuminati, some tree trimming would benefit the options off of many teeboxes, at a course already dealing with tight fairways.
For as much as we celebrate the wonkiness of Pete Dye, it’s worth noting that the more plain entries at Fowler’s maintain consistency not found elsewhere among Ohio publics. Some have stronger headlining holes, but none offer a stronger median.
Arguably the best public course in Ohio, this is a Pete Dye gem from his early years with very little earth moving involved. The great property and little earth moving resulted in a variety of original holes that are a lot of fun to play.