The Ivy Hills Country Club hails from bringing a linksland aesthetic to a former gravel quarry near the Little Miami River. Although the fescue that has been introduced into the rough areas certainly captures the imagination, it’s tough to argue the design of the adventurous Steve Smyers is anything but traditional. The topsy-turvy topography left by the property’s former purpose means that, in many cases, the distance to the green is almost less important than grasping the distance up/down to the green.
The result is an unconventional test of golf that will remind players more of Dye or Fazio than the Scottish designers of olde. Smyers manages to balance the need for strategic design again the exciting portions of the property, however. One popular example is the par five No. 8, which offers the daring a chance to shoot for a leftward fairway extension, which offers a significantly shorter approach to the green...but it also offers the risk of a watery grave.
The round at Ivy Hills will be a literal up-and-down experience for all golfers...and an evenly fun one for most.
Ivy Hills is a Smyers design in an old quarry. Lots of up and down as one would expect. Unfortunately, i did not make a lot of up and downs.
The first hole looks intimidating but is, in fact, welcoming. Yes, there is a water hazard left, but there is plenty of room right. A decent drive will leave you with a scoring iron, be forewarned this green slopes hard left. The 2nd hole is a really short par 3. When I say short, I mean short! It is only 125 yards. There are two bunkers front left and the green sits on a ledge. Things get tougher on the dogleg left long par 4 3rd. Water hazard left off the tee as well as greenside bunker front left. The green is slightly elevated so consider taking an extra club. The short 4th looks like a layup on the card. Do not be fooled, this hole is two clubs uphill so choose your approach iron wisely. Aim about 5 yards left of the flag as the green goes hard right. The 5th is a valley par 3 and this green also tilts right as well as back to front. The first par five is one of my favorite holes at Ivy Hills. Yes, a predictable birdie. Definitely, reachable, favor the left side off the tee. It is one of the tighter holes on the course with water right after the drive, but it is also significantly downhill. The par 4 7th is all about the drive and with water left and right that is understandable. Favor the left side off the tee and take at least one and perhaps two clubs on the approach. The 8th can be a fun hole. It leans left with a water hazard left. Off the tee the best line is right over the fairway bunker on the left. The 9th at just over 300 yards, begs you to go for it. I hope it works out for you, not so much for me. There is OB left and the left fairway bunker compresses the fairway. Layup may be the play to give yourself a flip wedge.
The back starts with an uphill par four. Off the tee aim at the right fairway bunker. This uphill approach is at least one extra club and perhaps two. The 11th is a big, long downhill dogleg left. From the tips it is almost 500 yards. A high draw off the tee would be a great start, otherwise plan to cut a little of the corner to give yourself a chance. Three bunkers short left. The 12th is a mid-length par three, but it is uphill. Hardly a gimme as it is the number 8 handicap hole. If you are going to miss, short is best. The 13th is an S par 4. The best approach to the green is from the right but there is a dropoff right. I think the smart play is to just hit it straight, I know, easy to say. The 14th is an uphill then downhill par five dogleg left. Big hitters can get home in two. Favor the left off the tee the 3 tiered green is guarded by a front bunker. The last par three is 240 yards. Do not tremble in fear, it is downhill big time. Three bunkers front left. The last par five leans a little right and is uphill. Stallions may be able to get home in two, but if you block it right you will probably be OB. The 17th is a thinking mans hole. Aggressive players can get close to the green as it is downhill. Conversely, it is easy to drive it thru the fairway. A better play may be to lay up to your preferred wedge yardage. This green moves right to left. The 18th is a long finishing hole. Favor left of center off the tee. The 18th green is one of the more undulating and contours right.
Fun golf course, I would pay to play it again.