If you’re a golf fan and you hear about Columbus, Ohio, you probably recognize the city as the birthplace of the Golf Bear, Jack Nicklaus. And yes, it’s also home to “The” Ohio State University, Nicklaus’ alma mater.
While Columbus is home to more than its fair share of famous names, it’s a place to find some great public golf.
I’ve never been in Columbus but many of our readers have. Some even call the city home. As such, it’s with their help that I’ve compiled a list of the best public tracks you and I can play.
Golf Club of Dublin
Golfers call the Golf Club of Dublin the “only true links course in the Midwest.” The turf is fescue, something you hardly ever see in this part of the country.
Additionally, you find stone walls, sod-faced bunkers, and gargantuan green complexes. If it weren’t for the sunny skies and hot summer temperatures, you’d swear you were in the British Isles when you play the Golf Club of Dublin.
Caring for fescue grass is difficult in this environment, but this course always receives rave reviews for its condition.
A truly unique experience you won’t soon forget.
New Albany Links Golf Club
If you’re looking for a country club experience but don’t have any interest in paying expensive monthly dues, New Albany is the place for you.
The amenities at this facility are stupendous. Everything from the practice facilities, to the Pro Shop, and the restaurant are top notch.
New Albany was designed by Barry Safarin. The layout is American modern. Bunkers are plentiful and water comes into play on a number of holes. The greens are undulating and well protected. Target golf in every way.
Even though this course is a great test for the best of ball strikers, it’s more than playable for everyone.
Cumberland Trail Golf Club
You can find Cumberland Trail Golf Club just east of downtown Columbus, in the suburb of Pataskala.
This track, which stretches more than 7,200 yards from all the way back, has perfect bent grass greens, strategically placed bunkers, and a number of water hazards that come into play.
Once again, this is modern target golf that demands your best from tee to green.
One thing that players continually tout about Cumberland Trail is the level of service. More than most courses, the staff at Cumberland Trail and knowledgeable and welcoming to everyone they encounter.
A fun, but challenging layout with the best service around, it’s hard to say no to Cumberland Trail.
Delaware Golf Club
No, we aren’t talking about a golf course in the state of Delaware. Instead, the town of Delaware, Ohio.
Undulation is the name of the game here. The course meanders through three valleys, numerous ravines, and over sloping hillsides.
The original nine opened in 1922 and was designed by Donald Ross. Michael Hurzdan and Fuzzy Zoeller later expanded the course to 18 holes.
A diverse mixture of holes keeps you interested the entire round at Delaware Golf Club. Some are long and open, and others are short and narrow.
Like any Donald Ross design, the key to scoring well is navigating the tricky green complexes. A round without a three-putt here is something to remember.
Glenross Golf Club
Both old and new can be found at Glenross Golf Club. Having undergone a renovation, much of the course was changed, but distinct characteristics of what once was can still be seen.
The fairways are almost all lined by stately oak trees. Water also comes into play on a number of holes. Accuracy is key to scoring well.
Once you get to the greens, the work isn’t done. Significant undulations mean leaving approaches on the downhill side of the hole is paramount.
For an all-around fun experience, give Glenross Golf Club a try.
Turnberry Golf Course
Don’t get too excited. We aren’t talking about the course across the pond that’s in the British Open rota.
This Turnberry is in Columbus. It’s owned and operated by the city.
Designed by Arthur Hills and set alongside the banks of Blacklick Creek, this course is lined with native grasses and a number of hazards.
For a course that gets so much play, locals commend this course’s outstanding condition.
The elevated greens present the greatest challenge. They’re tough to hit on approaches and can be tricky to read.
A great layout and excellent value, it sounds like Turnberry is an excellent choice for a round.
Safari Golf Club
Safari Golf Club is owned and operated by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The layout makes its way through a wooded forest adjacent to the zoo proper.
Known for being in excellent condition, this spot makes the perfect getaway while the rest of the family visits the animals. Chances are, you might even see some wildlife of your own in the form of hawks, whitetail deer, and turkeys.
Safari Golf Club measures 6,850 yards and demands course management and sound ball striking.
A fun round at a fair price, everyone seems to enjoy their time at Safari Golf Club.
Royal American Links
The bent grass playing surfaces at Royal American Links are to die for. Regulars say there’s hardly a bad lie anywhere on the course.
Set in the countryside northeast of Columbus, you’ll find yourself far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life when you venture out to this facility.
While the course can be a bear from the tips, it’s playable for everyone thanks to multiple tee options.
Make sure you carve out some to take in everything the 27,000 square foot clubhouse has to offer. The joint resembles a Scottish castle and has to be seen to be believed.
Clover Valley Golf Club
Clover Valley was built on 240 pristine acres of wooded countryside. An idyllic site indeed.
While the fairways and landing areas are expansive, the bunkers and hazards are never too far offline. Play aggressive but make smart decisions.
If you play here in the afternoon, expect the winds to kick up. This can make club selection a challenge.
Once you’re on the dance floor, you can make some putts as these greens are some of the finest in the state.
A memorable round, chances are you’ll want to play Clover Valley again.
Bent Tree Golf Club
Bent Tree Golf Club is considered one of the premier courses in the Columbus area. That’s saying something since there are so many to choose from.
The layout spans more than 167 acres and every hole feels like it exists on its own. This affords a quiet, tranquil round of golf.
Bent Tree was designed by Dennis Griffiths. His creation is considered to be a work of art by many, not just another golf course.
Bunkers and water hazards dot this course. While they can be penal, they also help to frame holes in a way that leaves little question where you’re supposed to hit it.
A locals’ favorite for years, this place sounds like a must play.
There’s no doubt that Columbus is alive with things to see and do. Between one of the nation’s most iconic universities, a lively downtown, and a plethora of quality choices for public golf, you won’t ever be bored in this city.
Having learned what I know now, I’m thinking a trip to Columbus needs to happen soon.
I continue to be floored by all the help I receive from our readers when I ask for it to write these guides. There’s no question I’ve left a few courses off this list. If you agree, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments.