Shaker Run’s most acclaimed routing is the combination of the front-nine Lakeside followed by the back-nine Woodlands. The two represent the ‘70s trend of “target golf,” which was en vogue when Arthur Hills laid out the course, in their own way.
The front is more open, and the title lake only comes into play twice: once as the cape-style closer to the side, and when the inlet that players drive over during No. 9 serves as a forced carry to the green on the par three No. 2.
The Woodlands nine is more reminiscent of what Pete Dye established at Harbour Town, with fairways winding through trees and demanding the most accurate of shots to score. That side’s highlights are somewhat related to the first half: There is a par three with a forced carry to the green, as No. 14 plays downhill from the tee, across Shaker Creek. The No. 18 hole is also similar to that of the Lakeside, as players will have the option to bite off as much as they dare from the same lake. The difference on this end is that the final approach shot will be over an inlet.
The hole immediately preceding that one, No. 17, will be a relief after 16 holes of dodging trees and water. Although it’s a long, demanding par three, it’s also wide open...very little chance of losing a ball.
Suburban golf courses have been known to acquire odd shapes to better suit the properties that line the fairways. Shaker Run is a collection of especially amoeboid shapes...where the homes and condominium development came nearly 40 years after the course’s completion. It would be overly generous to suppose Arthur Hills was working with tremendous foresight, as the new real estate doesn’t especially pinch any of his original palette. The greens simply do not “fit,” except into the era that ‘70s golf architecture found itself mired within.
Nearly half of these greens are more than three-times longer than they are wide. This tendency always raises an eyebrow (if your eyebrows are bushy, you’ll have a nice idea for what these greens are shaped like) but a long, thin green can be a great change of pace / conversation piece when used conservatively. No. 14, a Par 3 that dives down through a wooded corridor to a green that runs front-right to back-left along Shaker Creek, is a fun piece of heroism. You’ll forget the experience, however, at No. 15...perhaps the most flagrant abuse of the theme. The back nine is accurately described as “Woodlands” and, if the mid-handicapper can thread this wood canyon, they must carry a fronting bunker and land a lob on an anorexic green. Kidneys are a good standard for putting surfaces when considering human anatomy. Shaker Run tends toward the intestines.
Very few greens allow any sort of run-up, which will severely hamper the amateur. Whether it’s a halo of rough or a pinhole "sidewalk," loft is essential. Three of the more circular, non-liposuctioned greens, are fronted by forced carries in the form of creeks or lakes. Target golf or no golf.
The bunkering shares a similar wiggly style as the greens, although this is not a point of critique. If every approach weren’t inherently a risk/reward, they would be quite attractive. Your correspondent has long defied convention and stuck his neck out for center-fairway trees as a hazard—and Arthur Hills is more fond of this technique than any. Our defense stops here: No. 16’s botanical guardian only removes options; there is no way to find the corner of the dogleg-right apart from luck.
Arthur Hills always tends toward the wonk, but Shaker Run has not aged well. For a better glance at Hill’s hand for the exotic (and a similarly-priced tee time), head north in Ohio to Virtues Golf Club. It offers the challenge without the frustration...and that is a line even finer than Shaker's greens.
A very challenging layout but needs some TLC.....These courses host many rounds each year and that constant play takes its toll. Have had some nice experiences there with the course and treatment but also some bad ones, especially on crowded days. If you want to play it, do it but I feel other courses in the area are just as good if not better.
I played here with a gentleman who told me that 30 years ago, this was one of the most premier courses in Ohio when it came to the design and how well manicured it was. Unfortunately, it's lost some of that excellent manicuring, but it's still in nice shape. It's not a goat ranch, by any means. The Woodlands nine is what stood out to me. Lakeside is nice, but I wouldn't write home about it. I would with the Woodlands. #3 is a jaw-dropping Par 4, both with scenery and difficulty. #5 is very similar, except it's a Par 3. Both ninth holes on the Woodlands and Lakeside are practically the same hole; a tee shot that requires a large carry over the namesaked "Lakeside", and then you have to hit over it again to reach the green. Only difference is that the 9th on Lakeside curves left where as Woodlands' turns to the right. I'd have loved to see this course when it was in pristine shape, but it's not a bad course at all today.