Robert Trent Jones II has only completed two Ohio courses among his vast resume, and both were laid out in the suburbs of Columbus at around the same time. Wedgewood Country Club reasonably faced pressure, as it lies near Dublin—a heavily golf-laden community that hails as the homeland of Jack Nicklaus, as well as hosting The Memorial Tournament every year at Muirfield Village.
If there was pressure to create a noticeable gem, Jones did not wilt underneath the spotlight. The course plays a hair under 7,000 yards but is designed for competition: The 2018 Ohio Amateur Championship host features additional tees on multiple holes, designed for stiffer competitions.
The majority of the par fives are designed as risk-reward affairs, either featuring a crossing mid-fairway to challenge distance from the tee, or a pond near the green...demanding accuracy as well as length from those who want an eagle putt. The final hole, a true three-shotter, doubles down on its defenses: The pond that is present greenside right at No. 9 also covers the second half of this par five along the left, and an additional pond makes the final 130 yards a tunnel to the green.
Wedgewood is a RTJII design that opened to much fanfare in the 1990s. The first hole is not welcoming a long par four. Fairway bunkers left so favor the right side off the tee. The approach is slightly downhill with a greenside bunker left. The 2nd can be a birdie hole, but it can also sneak up on you. Off the tee favor the right side to avoid the pesky pot bunker in the left fairway as well as the fairway bunkers on the left side. Consider an extra club on the approach as the green is elevated with deep greenside bunkers short right. The long dogleg left 3rd is the number one handicap hole. It is tough. A creek runs down the left side and ten crosses the fairway about 100 yards out. Also, there are three fairway bunkers on the inside elbow. A high draw or cutting the corner is preferable. The good news is the approach is downhill. The 4th is a mid-yardage Florida par three. The dogleg right fifth is the longest par four. A high fade is preferred off the tee. The green is elevated and flanked by bunkers left and right. The 6th is a reverse S shaped par five. The creek makes itself know on both the drive and the 2nd shot. Conceivable to get home in two, but with the large mature trees and the creek, I think it is best played as a three shotter. The 7th is an excellent birdie oppty. It is the shortest par four. Favor the right off the tee to take the left fairway bunker out of play. This should leave you with an attack wedge. This is a tough green with a huge list from the back right to the front left. The 8th is the shortest hole and is another Florida par three. The 9th is potentially reachable but with fairway bunkers left and water hazard right, probably best to play it as a 3 shotter. Play for your preferred wedge distance this is a well protected green.
The back starts like the front as the tenth parallels the 1st. The hole slopes a bit to the right, thus it has a small landing area, especially with the fairway bunker right. The approach is downhill so take one less club. The 11th is a mid-length par 3. The front is protected by three pot bunkers. The 12th is a short par four with a water hazard left and fairway bunker right. A decent drive should leave you with an attack wedge. The 13th has three pot cross bunkers that should not come into play but the large fairway bunker behind them does. The approach is uphill so take an extra club. The 14th is a reachable par 5. The hole bends right and has three fairway bunkers on the right side so favor left of middle off the tee. The second shot is a classic risk reward. Aim further left than you think you should as the contour riolls right. If you miss it right you are wet. The 15th is a par four that bends a little to the right. It is the only hole that does not have a bunker. The 16th leans a little left, thus a high draw off the tee will work best. The approach is uphill so take an extra club to a green that is well-protected by bunkers. The 17th is the longest par 3 and it is also a raised green with bunkers below on the right and left. The 18th is awesome finishing hole. It is a 3 shot par five with hazards lurking on each shot. Off the tee one must avoid the fairway bunkers and on the second and third, water hazards left and right.
Good not great
There are two Robert Trent Jones II courses in Ohio, and both were ordered by the same developer at the same time. The major difference between the two, to the advantage of Wedgewood’s membership, is the parcel on which the younger RTJ got to work. Although Jones is want to include bells and whistles in his projects, the land here—rolling hills not dissimilar from nearby Muirfield Village—convinced him (at least partially) from relying too heavily upon artificiality. Instead, as Macdonald deemed right, the land will reward and punish accordingly.
No. 13 is certainly more eye-catching on Google Maps than most holes at the course, but the three bunkers dividing the front foot of the fairway will not—and should not—threaten the player hitting from the tee. It becomes obvious upon approach, however, that they were a distraction all along. Your correspondent wound up nicely, but a slight tilt in the turf, hidden by the hazard, could have converted a seemingly ideal drive into a nightmare by bouncing it aggressively in the larger, and more realistically-reachable bunker on the right. Two feet of good fortune benefitted this player. No. 15 is one of several very reachable Par 5s, which requires less trickery on Jones’s part; the final stretch of the fairway banks right toward a collection pond. Bigger hitters can avoid the risk of running up a fairway wood, but they find their own pitfalls by ending up too far up the back of the green...prompting a downhill putt on greens reported as “10” on the Stimp.
The lengthy, rolling green at No. 9—another short Par 5—features the best of these greens, and demonstrates the importance of accuracy that is also reflected in the collection areas, and precise demands of tee shots. Local knowledge is earned, and it reflected among my hosts, who eagerly discussed skins. Your correspondent didn’t get to sample the local sand until No. 17 (those not playing from the Championship tees will find this to be the only short of significant length variance from the others), and it was about as cushy as it looked...a soft hazard, hardly damning the par chances. Matches at Wedgewood are made in the rolls of the fairway, not here.
Perhaps feeling pressure after installing a bizarre, boomerang-greened at the cross-town country club, Trent Jones II tries to beef up the final Par 5, sitting on a rare, flat plot, a little too much, pinching the final fairway between two irrigation ponds and reflecting his father’s occasionally-forced penal nature. When given good ground to work with, however, he manages a track that will make year-round play worthwhile for membership.
Wedgewood is kind of what one would picture as the ideal modern day designed country club. There's some definite man-made influence with the land that's detectable in some of the dips and rises with the hills across the property, but it's done an aesthetically pleasing way while offering up a very fair challenge. I believe if you can shape the golf ball both ways on command, this is a course it's possible to go very low on. Particularly a cut, as having a fade in your arsenal should allow for solid eagle looks on each Par 5, with definite birdie chances. One of those Par 5's is the 18th, which is a pretty epic hole on approach. A 200-250 yard approach in with the gorgeous clubhouse framing a large green with a massive pond on the right is a great way to end the day. The water hazards make a few holes beautiful, including 18, 9 (which runs parallel to 18), 4, 8, and 12. It's a very-well maintained course, and while not on a level of nearby Muirfield Village, deserves its recognition as a terrific private track.