Virtues Golf Club was once the namesake club for the Longaberger Basket Company, a now defunct business based out of a seven-story building, shaped like a basket. That sort of eccentricity is reflected in the Longaberger's (now the Virtues after an ownership change) golf course as well.
Sometimes hills simply force exotic design, in the sense of the property's high foothills. Such is the case with No. 4, a lengthy Par 5 that drops 150 feet from tee-to-green...making green-in-two a possibility despite the distance. Notably, the curves, placement of hazards, and reverse-redan provide a challenge for even the longest hitter trying to reach.
Sometimes Hills simply forces exotic design, in the sense that Arthur Hills often expresses himself as somewhat Dye-lite. Such is the case in the Par 4 No. 8, offering a drastically contrasting pair of options from the tee: Carry a (shorter-than-it-looks) natural area on the left to a lower plateau, or take the seemingly safer route to the higher fairway right. From the left, you'll be forced to carry an inlet from the lake, and from the right you'll have an open run-up to green...if you can control your approach from probably 50 feet up. To look at the shape of a hole on a yardage guide is to understand how far Hills will push the envelope. Many will salivate, and just as many will cringe.
Of course, both sets of Hills will crimp the round at points as well. The geologic variety make holes that would function well on flat ground—No. 3, for example—a slugfest they were never intended to be. The designer's own creativity seems to putter a tad when dramatic altitude change disappears on the back nine. No. 11 is a fine short Par 4, and No. 18 a fine long one, but everything in between leaves something to be desired. The cape at No. 16 seems more thirsty (youth slang translation = "desperate") than inspired.
Routinely ranked the top public route in Ohio, Virtues is not overpriced for its standing, and is worth a trip within reasonable distance. Whether it is a Top 100 American public? That is a whole other hill to climb.
Date: June 13, 2019