When one discusses golf in Dublin, Ohio, the conversation inevitably revolves around Jack Nicklaus, who both lives near and hosts the Memorial Tournament at his nearby Muirfield Village Golf Club. Seems a tad cheeky to invite another icon of the game to design a course in Jack’s backyard, no? Fortunately, Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were legendarily affable, and so the latter’s work for Tartan Fields hardly created a stir in one of Ohio’s most golf-friendly neighborhoods.
Although Muirfield Village also offers a less challenging Country Club course (versus the Golf Club’s challenging reputation), the route at Tartan Fields may provide a better comparison point for those looking to get a sense of Dublin’s most established course. Consider the various creeks and ponds around the Tartan property, and how Palmer set greens alongside them in a method to daunt the daring. The architect was more sympathetic to higher-handicapped souls, however, so reaching those greens (and putting on them) is not so frightening for those playing a wise round.
Tartan Fields is a Palmer design in golf crazy middle Ohio. One is a welcoming par four. Favor the right off the tee this should take the left greenside bunker out of play. The 2nd leans eft and has a large fairway bunker and water hazard right. If you are playing the correct tees these are definitely in play. This is a small narrow green that slopes left to right. The 3rd also leans left, it is longer with more hazards, but I do not think it warrants being the number one handicap hole. Favor the right off the even though there are fairway bunkers right. The left side of the fairway has a significant dropoff and should be avoided. There are several bunkers in front of the green, as well as a creek. Only really big hitters will be able to reach the first par five in two. The hole doglegs right and has fairway bunkers on the inside elbow and on one the outside. If you are playing the correct tees you should be able to navigate these. There appears to be a bunker right on front of the green, but it is actually about 70 yards from the center. We go from the easiest hole on the course to one of the toughest. Definitely be right of the left fairway bunker. There is a large water hazard left that protects the left third of the green. Pars are earned on this hole. The 6th is a mid-length par 3 very narrow green with water left bunker left and one in the back. The 7th is a good birdie oppty, favor the left side off the tee. A decent drive should leave you with a short iron with more water left. The 8th is the shortest hole and a classic Florida par three all carry to an island green. The front closes with a reachable par five. If you can carry the fairway bunkers left it is a green light to go for it. From here you will have to carry a marsh on the left. Be forewarned this green slopes hard left.
The back starts with a pretty par four. Stay left of the right fairway bunker off the tee. A decent drive will leave you with a short iron to a redan green that is protected with a water hazard in front with a lovely waterfall. The 11th is a long par five. Water carry with a fairway bunker right, favor the left side. I would recommend playing down the left side just short of the left fairway bunkers. This may leave you with a blind approach, but I think this angle gives you the best shot at hitting it tight. I really liked the par four 12th. I overcooked my drive, but this left me with the most green for my approach and the pin was back. The green is tucked left with a water hazard in front. I skulled my 8 iron and rolled it to 2 feet for an insta-birdie. Do not try this at home. The short 13th is also a birdie hole. The only real hazards are two fairway bunkers right. I hit another skull, but this one resulted in a bogey. Play the long par 5 14th as a 3 shotter. It is a reverse S with a water carry and bunker on the inside elbow. Play left of the bunker. For your 2nd aim at the right fairway bunker in the next elbow. This should give you a flip wedge to the green that has a stream in front and left and right bunkers. The 15th is a long par 3 with a redan green. There is a bunker front right and left. The slope of the green will push everything left. The 16th is an awesome hole and I did not even come close to parring it. A long par four with a water carry and a large fairway bunker right. Ideally, you want to be just left of this bunker. The green is tucked behind a water hazard on the right. Plenty of room to miss left, right not so much. The 17th is a slightly downhill mid-yardage Florida par three. The 18th is a good finishing hole. Left off the tee is best on this long par four. It is a two-tiered green with bunkers front right.
A fun under-appreciated course that I highly recommend.