The Golf Club at Yankee Trace features 27 holes designed by Gene Bates and Matt Swanson. The “Heritage” and “Legend” nines are combined to create the championship routing, which measures more than 7,100 yards from its tips.
There are a number of small creeks that cut across fairways throughout this route, but the most-hyped hazards will certainly be its bunkers, some of the largest in Ohio. The 508-yard No. 6 hole will certainly be a reachable distance for those able to contend with the back tees’ yardage, however the expansive sand pits that trace the entirety of this hole will make most think twice. The closing hole is almost the exact same idea except for a slight drop in yardage (down to 502) and the property’s largest lake hugging the fairway along the right side instead of sand.
This route weave through homes planned around the course, so also consider there may be additional eyes on you before making a regrettable shot choice.
The Centerville Relays Invitational was the bane of this golf rater’s high school track career. Usually held during March at a point when we distance runners, wearing the same scanty apparel as we would during the scalding June events, would shed three layers and run whatever distance during an ill-timed snow or Winter rain shower. I was relatively lucky; as a middle distance specialist, I only ever participated in the 400 or 800. The damned were those who excelled at much longer distances, such as my brother, as they were drafted to participate in the Steeplechase. Only Centerville hosted such a barbaric event, as only Centerville had seen fit to build the water-filled pit necessary. Runners would complete eight laps (2 miles) and, at the far turn, jump atop the wooden steeple and attempt to launch over the chilly pool, usually failing to cross.
I’ve never, until this point, wondered how they enforced the water jump. The pit only takes up the inner four lanes, yet no one ever got sassy and ran around lane five without jumping. Gene Bates would have addressed the issue by building the pit out across six or seven lanes, leaving only the barest semblance of an approach around the hazard. Or at least that’s the theme at the par fives as part of Yankee Trace’s championship course (located in Centerville). At No. 6, the player shuffles straight for 565 yards in between heavy-handed fairway bunkering, until they arrive at a third shot that — no matter how intelligently one places themselves along the right fairway — realistically cannot avoid a forced carry into a perpendicularly-placed green. No. 12 follows very much the same formula, as does No. 18 (albeit the final hole does spice up the strategy by incorporating a wide, dogleg turn along a pond).
This review thus far makes it seem Yankee Trace and its progenitor, Bates, are a 1:1 correlation with the worst track and field meet in history. They are not. Yankee Trace is much better than that.
For the clunky ‘90s-era mechanics of its long holes, Bates takes a more sensitive approach during the shorts, offering a range of manageable challenges. He uses the same perpendicular putting surface trick described above at No. 3, which performs better as a one-off one-shot hole. No. 8 features a long-ish tee shot down to a green bending left around a deep bunker, while the shorter No. 13 has a deep green where front pins summon suckers. Finally, No. 16 is a haul at 225 yards; players must work the ball around a small bunker at the front-inside to get to back tees, or consider laying up as the more prudent play.
And the holes in the middle of long and short? They accordingly fall somewhere in the middle. On the best of them, Bates hardly needs sand hazards at all, using small terrain fluctuations to guard against approach shots (No. 10) or the gentle right-to-left slope of the land to play into a semi-drivable par four temptation. On the worst, trees sit in position to block even shots that land in the fairway (No. 2 and ironically, No. 10, which showcases both Bates’s best and worst).
Yankee Trace isn’t the most inspiring course but, in a region suffering for inspirational public golf (Dayton closed 66% of its municipal facilities during 2020), Yankee Trace should be appreciated as a local offering, perhaps even the best local offering. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend traveling a great distance for it, however.
Still...much better than the local track and field fare.
Yankee Trace is a 27 hole facility in Centerville, OH not too far from Dayton. The first hole is a welcoming par 5 that can be reached for those of you who start hot. Avoid the fairway bunkers right in the landing area. The green is protected by three bunkers short right. The 2nd is a dogleg right. No sense trying to cut anything as there is a creek that crosses the fairway about 130 yards out. The 3rd is a short par 3, redan green with large bunker front left. The 4th is a long dogleg left. There is a bunker on the inside elbow. Depending upon your tees I would not advise mucking with it. Middle of the fairway with a long approach to a naked green. The 5th is a fun hole. A short par 4 with a bunker in the middle of the fairway about 60 yards out from the green. The hole leans right and there are four bunkers front right. This hole is taunting you to go for it and for those of you with high cuts, why not? The 6th is a long par five that leans left with bunkers pretty much down the entire left side. They did throw 3 in on the right for entertainment. Favor the right side and play this as a 3 shotter. It is the number one handicap hole, three mediocre shots and you are putting for birdie. I think the long par four 8th is much tougher. Water carry, aim at the right fairway bunker off the tee. The 9th is fairly straight with pinching fairway bunker son the right and left and a green that is protected by two bunkers right.
The back starts with a par four that leans a little right with one of the more generous landing areas a greenside bunker right. The 11th is a good birdie oppty. Short par four that bends left with two fairway bunkers right and one greenside right. The 12th is a big boy par 5 at over 600 yards. The first 400 yards are pretty open but then do not go left, water hazard and bunkers. The longest is followed by the shortest and the number 18 handicap hole. The 14th lists to the right with a fairway bunker left as well as one greenside left. The 15th is pretty straight with lots of trees right. A stream cuts in front about 60 yards in front of the green. I am not ashamed to admit that I hit driver on the 224 yard 16th. The 17th is a long tight par four. The fairway runs out about 150 yards out from the green. The par 5 18th is a good finishing hole. I imagine some big hitters can get home in two, but that was way above my pay grade. Off the tee aim just inside the left fairway bunker. Stay right to avoid the water hazard left and choose your preferred scoring yardage. If the pin is tucked front right don’t be an idiot like me and go for it.
Good value course.