Ohio is rife with courses from Donald Ross, and a relative few remain open to public play. The city of Cleveland obtained both Manakiki and Sleepy Hollow (a Stanley Thompson design) and incorporated them into the city’s park system mid-Century. Both remain among the most popular public routes in the state.The Manakiki property sits on the east side of the city, and features several dramatic changes in elevation, which Ross used to construct a fair, rolling route. The two most photographed holes on the property are its “canyon” holes;
the effect is the result of a sharp ridge running between the par fours at no. 10 and 18, which are also pinched by hillsides on their respective outer edges, creating downhill drives into fairways running between the hills, which rise again to the green.
The altitude changes may be most evident on No. 16, however. A 330-yard drive may seem out of reach to most, but the steep drop-off from the top fairway indicates how many extra yards can be collected by a big driver. Don’t let these mid-length holes distract you from the quality at Manakiki’s par threes, however.
A '90s renovation program helped to widen these fairways and restore the wonder of Ross to the property.
Echo what Ryan mentioned in his review. I grew up on public golf via the likes of America's oldest municipal golf course – Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, NY. My father's family hailed from the Borough and being in the middle of a great city while having a "green escape" was something to truly appreciate.
Manakiki is a special place -- the architecture still resonates albeit given the amount of play it's hard to sort out all the key details and have them presented in a higher manner -- but such operations are constrained by public ownership and the slew of other priorities competing for the limited $$ available.
Hats off to Cleveland for getting both Manakiki and Sleepy Hollow into the fold of public usage years ago. Sad to say, too many other municipalities jettisoned their respective golf portfolios and the average "Joes and Janes" are the ones who become the ultimate losers.
The Ross details do still exist but it can be hard to enjoy when the rounds of golf unfold s-l-o-w-l-y as Ryan correctly noted.
The terrain makes the golf experience a pleasurable and I also join the comment Nathan made of the 18th hole.
For those needing pristine playing conditions the time at Manakiki may not fill out one's dance card. But, for those who have a good bit of elasticity the round at Manakiki will be one to enjoy and envision what it could possibly be with the added touches seen at other such Ross layouts.
M. James Ward
An honest question Matt, and not at all meant to be an argumentative one: Does the pace of play register into your ultimate rating of a course for this site?
That's a fair question and one that invites serious debate on different sides.
Those who are strictly about architecture will say "no" -- pace of play is not to be considered. On the flip side, there are those who will say the "experience" in enjoying a course is impacted by the snail-like movements of others.
The experiences you outlined at Manakiki and Sleepy Hollow are reminiscent of what I regularly endured with my friends when playing Bethpage Black years ago. Rounds were nearly six hours and rigor mortis would nearly paralyze any opportunity to successfully play.
The issue of slow play clearly impacts one's enjoyment.
In my mind, pace of play is a management issue -- not a design flaw. The lone exception would be if the architect created holes where the space to walk between holes -- or via the usage of a power cart -- is extensive and clearly disruptive to one attempting to get into some sort of playing rhythm. A classic example that comes to mind is Quivira in Cabo. The ride between the 4th and 5th is over one mile !!! At Highlands Links on Cape Breton Island the walk between the 12th and 13th is really a trek -- but some find it rewarding. Until Pebble Beach was purchased by the American syndicate the pace of play there was also painful -- too many people taking endless photos and little to nothing done to keep things moving.
In my assessments, I assess the architecture pure and simple unless the situation falls under the umbrella I outlined earlier. I will make note of slow play -- and do that so others can be forewarned.
Management should be proactive so golf can be played under five (5) hours. Sadly, too many facilities pay lip service and the result is a painful journey for the players.
Hope my answer helps --
With you on all points, Matt, well-said.
Manakiki is a real gem for the city of Cleveland. A Donald Ross design and formerly a private club it is a super value with access for all.
The first few holes should allow you to get off to a good start. The first hole leans left with a bunker on the inside elbow, so favor the right off the tee. The 2nd is a dogleg right with a bunker on the inside elbow. You can cut some of this corner and the green has a large bunker right. The 3rd is a reachable par five that tilts right. However, it is a definite risk/reward hole as there is a water hazard right and the fairway runs out, favor the left off the tee. There is a greenside bunker right to keep you honest. The 4th is forgettable and the first par 3 is the shortest hole on the course but the green is surrounded by 5 bunkers. The 6th is a big boy par five. Play it as a 3 shotter, favor the left off the tee and the right on the 2nd shot. The 7th is a mid-yardage par 3 but is does have a ridge that effectively creates two greens. The long par 4 8th is a real demanding hole. Fairway bunkers right and left, pars are earned.
offers many great holes; #8 was considered the most difficult par 4 hole on tour in the '50s when Manakiki hosted the Carling Open. Hole #15 has also been selected as one of Cleveland's best par 3 holes. An electric trolley once carried golfers from the 15th green up the steep slope to the #16 tee. The mirror image canyon holes #10 and #18 are among the finest start and finish to nine holes in the country. The 9th leans left and goes back up to the clubhouse. Favor the right off the tee.
The back starts off with a long par four. Downhill then uphill with one of the tighter treelined fairways on the course. The 11th is a mid-yardage par 3 with more room behind the left and right bunkers than it appears. The 12th is a reachable par five and actually rated the easiest hole on the course. Yeah! There are fairway bunkers right, you can bomb it off the tee and when I was there it was definitely hard and fast. Just a bit of caution, a hazard does bisect the fairway about 100 yards out from the green. The 13th is even a shorter par five with a required fairway and greenside bunker. The 14th is a straightaway benign par 4, fairway bunker left and a couple greenside. The 15th is a long par 3 with water hazards that should only come into play if you top it or chunk it, but not an easy hole. Handicap 8 and deservedly so. The 16th is a good birdie hole downhill, slight dogleg right with greenside bunkers left and right. You can cut the corner but the fairway narrows significantly the closer you get to the green. The 17th bends left and is a long par four. The 18th is a good finishing hole, parallels the 10th and is a valley hole with a narrow fairway.
Manakiki is a throwback course and a great value. I highly recommend it.
A real gem of a course. NE Ohio has so many great courses. Unfortunately, most of them are private so the "everyday Joe" can't play them. That's a shame. Manakiki is a fantastic public track. Yes, it could benefit from some tree removal and a little TLC but the "bones" are fantastic.
18 is a real gem of a hole. And there are many other really solid golf holes. A real treat to play!
The two gems of Cleveland Municipal golf—Manakiki and Sleepy Hollow—were essentially won for the general public during the late ‘50s when a lawsuit from two non-golfing, concerned taxpayers questioned whether the city’s park system could rent land to private enterprises. I take my hat off to these observant watchdogs...not because of any threat to my tax dollars (I live in Columbus) but rather because now I can drive north on occasion and publicly enjoy a Donald Ross that remains so true to the Scot’s tenets.
Chief among those tenets are the greens, whose signature features remain intact. Two immediately come to mind, although each putting surface here comes with a touch of Ross charm. No. 7 is a splendid short Par 3, where a vertical spine extends from the back, to enforce the importance of finding the correct half of the putting surface upon approach, and deep bunkers enforce the importance of finding EITHER half of the putting surface (as a side note, the depth of these bunkers simply would not be possible in Columbus, where municipal sand bakes to the point of waste...wrecking the life of the hapless high-handicapper who falls in. If Cleveland’s care of Manakiki’s hazards were to be so lackluster, they would quickly convert from strategic sandpits to unrealistic hellholes). No. 3 also deserves some attention; at just 471 yards, it is a very reachable Par 5. Therefore the placement of a flag in the front thumbprint makes the foremost pin the stickiest proposition; anything above the flag in the green’s bowl makes eagle putts quickly (both temporally and in terms of green speed) become pars. But who lays up in a situation like this, really?
Although none of the putting surfaces are truly crowned in the Pinehurst sense, many still offer opportunity to find the fairway (again) with an over-strong putt. Many of the fairways behave in a similar manner; although the course’s signature holes (nos. 10 and 18) play down through valleys between rolling hills, the majority of these fairways run atop them. This displays Ross’s knack for routing, and also creates a great opportunity to win a skin off of a first-timer; many drives that look like gold from the tee prove otherwise when they feed left or right into the second-cut.
The biggest complaint against both Manakiki and Sleepy Hollow will be the length of a round. No one expects a municipal 18 to fly as quickly as a private club, but sme lack in variety compounds the problem here. Three of the four Par 5s are less than 500 yards from the tips. Unto itself, it’s a concerning bit of sameness, but it also means a 280-yard drive (quite frequent on these fast fairways) results in waiting for the group ahead to move off the green. The trickle-down schedule wreckenomics flows backward from there.
Nonetheless, I would hardly encourage Cleveland to raise prices ($38 to walk during the weekend), or even cut back tee times. The people of Cleveland fought for access to this course (or at least one litigious couple did), and they should continue to exercise that right. Manakiki remains a bright light for municipal operations, in Ohio and otherwise.