While the north side of Columbus is dominated by championship-caliber clubs, the southern portion of the city is relatively lacking. This is not to say that Pinnacle Golf Club would struggle to make waves if it lived in the capital city’s other hemisphere. It’s a design from the pen of PGA Championship winner Lanny Wadkins, and its longest tees stretch to nearly 7,500 yards, making it one of the longest courses in the state.
Indeed, playing holes like No. 11 — a 240-yard par three with a green angled away from the tee — will separate the best from the rest.
The course is largely differentiated between the two nines, with the first taking place more in the open, much like the farmland that was previously present. The second nine winds through some woods, which grow around the property’s central creek. It will force numerous carries, but the most noticeable will be on No. 9, where big hitters can try to carry the creek in two on their way to an eagle putt, while those finished with their round watch from the clubhouse on the hill.
The club was built with the now-surrounding residential community in mind, however there are no homes in sight for the majority of the round.
Most of the new upper end golf courses in central Ohio have been north of Columbus. The Lanny Wadkins designed Pinnacle Golf Club is the exception, about 10 miles south of Columbus.
The first hole is welcoming. Fairway bunkers left and right as well as greenside left and right. The second is a par five that leans left and is reachable for big hitters. There are two fairway bunkers on the right. Favor the right off the tee to give yourself the best angle. There is also a water hazard right that squeezes the fairway. If you are going for it there are four fairway bunkers left that you will need to carry. Good birdie hole. Things get tougher on the long par 4 third that bends a wee bit left. From the blacks there is a 200 yard carry over the water hazard. You will have a long approach to a green with a bunker front left. The 4th is similar, another long difficult par four, only this one has water front and left. The first par three is mid-length crossing a creek with bunkers front and back right as well as left. The 6th is a fun hole, short par four that bends right. There is a water carry with a fairway bunker left, three right and one in the middle. Aim at the one in the middle. There really is no benefit to try to carry the right bunkers as there is a stream behind them. The 8th is the number one handicap hole a long par four. Fairway bunkers left and a water hazard left starting about 125 yards out. The green is protected with bunkers front left and back right. The front closes with a reachable par five but there is not much room for error as the stream runs at a 70 degree angle in front of the green. This green is about 10 yards wide at the front and does widen after the first left side bunker. Play it as a 3 shotter.
The back starts with a long straight away par four, two greenside bunkers front right and one rear left. The 11th is a long par three with that insidious stream right in front. Yes, I was short. The 12th is a tricky hole. Off the tee favor the left side to ensure that you do not get blocked out. The infamous stream starts down the right side and cuts across the fairway about 85 yards out. The 13th is a three shot par 5. Favor the left off the tee. There are two water hazards on the right starting about 250 yards from the green. Additionally, the fairway runs out about 150 yards out. The 14th is a good birdie oppty, especially if you can hit a high draw. If you cannot, you may be able to cut the corner, if you can get your drive high and quick enough. If you cannot, lay up or run the risk of driving thru the fairway. The long tight 16th is the number two handicap hole and deservedly so. Another hole where the fairway runs out, this one about 120 yards out with greenside bunker left. You finish with two good birdie oppties. The 17th is a short dogleg right par four. Bunkers on the inside and outside. Best play off the tee is a high fade. This will leave you with an attack iron to a green that is protected by the stream and a right greenside bunker. The 18th is a long par five. There is a water carry and fairway bunkers right, so favor the left off the tee. On your second shot favor the right to take the left fairway bunkers out of play.
A pleasant surprise that I definitely recommend.
In memory of the recently departed Alex Trebek, I’ll open this writeup with a bit of trivia: five major winners who have designed golf courses in the greater Columbus, Ohio area. “Who are Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf” are easy, “Fuzzy Zoeller” may catch a few off guard, but many will be quite sincere — and not just using ‘Jeopardy’s trademark verbiage — when they say “who is Lanny Wadkins?” The answer is both the winner of the 1977 PGA Championship at Pebble Beach, and the designer of Pinnacle Golf Club.
One could be forgiven for thinking one of those other names was involved, however...much of the back nine revolves around the property’s central creek, leading to forced carries and watery run-ins that hearken to designs by both Nicklaus and Palmer on the city’s north side (Nicklaus is rumored to have been scouted for the job, before ownership took the offer to Wadkins).
Although numerous forced carries can become tiresome, such is not the problem at Pinnacle. In fact, the creek provides the meat behind one of the club’s best holes. At No. 9, the position of the stream is quite ideal, allowing players of any strength to have an attempt at getting home in two when playing from the correct tee. That the stylistic clubhouse is perched on the hill behind the green makes it all the more pleasing. Issues appear, however, due to the trees that appreciate such sources of hydration. Rarely does this result in fairways-too-thin (the typical tree complaint) but the second nine, which houses most of the creek, is notably cramped compared to the more expansive front. Although the yardages are almost equal, the holes on the back are jigsaw-puzzled together to fit, which can be just fine if the strategy remains varied, but the doglegs at Nos. 12, 14, and 17 essentially become the same hole.
That said, of the three, I’d suggest two of those aforementioned three are in fact good holes (too many trees at the corner of the dogleg at No. 14). Many before me have lamented that No. 9 is not the closing hole, however the long that officially ends the round is a prize of a hole, with a false front to match some of the nastiest rejection letters I have received. On the front nine, No. 4 also stands out for its downhill approach, the final 150 yards along ponds connected by a series of waterfalls.
On the whole, Pinnacle is not a disappointing course...well-maintained and visually-stimulating. It requires a few more standout holes to take Wadkins the designer from pub trivia to a household name, however.
Easily the best introduction to any golf course review I have read!! Must be up there for Review of the Month. Excellent write-up, Ryan!