For many years now I have been driving north to Columbus, Ohio from Cincinnati and wondering if the links style course right next to Interstate 71 was worth playing. This past Memorial Day we decided that we would play 18 holes at Phoenix Golf Links. This is an interesting golf course, the course itself is built right smack on top of a former landfill. Yes, that’s right, a landfill. An excellent use of spoiled land I say. If you enjoy links style golf, you’ll enjoy a round here at the Phoenix Golf Links.

After you dismiss the course’s few drawbacks.  One is its strange location, which is sandwiched between the interstate and an industrialized area and the fact that the 18th hole (it does have trees) actually plays away from the clubhouse. This isn’t an issue if you take a cart, but walkers may not enjoy the extra walk back to the clubhouse.   Once playing the Phoenix Golf Links you’ll forget where you are and your round will be quite enjoyable. If the wind is blowing (and I bet it is), you might think you are playing in Scotland or Ireland.

The day we played the wind played havoc with our games. Some holes you needed 3 more clubs and others you gained a lot of yards off the tee.  In fact, we are looking forward to going back in late October to play it in British Open style conditions to see how we score (or don’t). Don’t be fooled by the lack of trees here, it is quite easy to lose your fair share of golf balls. Wayward tee shots away from the vast and expansive fairways can easily land into the tall heather grasses and unless you actually step on your golf ball, you most likely will be taking a drop and of course, a penalty stroke. The best view here is the view of the Columbus, Ohio skyline against the course. 

The first hole offers a nice view off the tee box and an even better one from the fairway looking down to the first green. One of the nice surprises was the amount of roll the fairways have here. Although the fairways were not hard at all, they served up nice helpings of roll when your drives found the fairway.

Yes, this course really is built atop an old landfill. Because of this, you won’t want to be lighting up a cigarette or a cigar. There are a few methane gas outlets to remind you of this as well as several no smoking signs. The landfill, once full to a previously determined capacity, is capped off with several feet of dirt. The course is built atop this layer of dirt. There are several golf courses in the United States that lived previous lives as landfills. In fact, I would bet that there will be more courses like this in the future and land becomes very, very expensive or even scarce. Recreating usable, green space not only replaces an eyesore, but it provides for recreation and a use for land that really has no use.  

This course sports at least 80 bunkers, some of which even have stacked sod sides. If they could stack the sod on all bunkers the Euro flavor would taste even better here.  You’ll need to bring your sand wedge game here to score well. The course plays to just shy of 7000 yards from the tips.  I was surprised that the slope only topped out at 119 (course rating of 71.7 for the blue tees), even from the blue or championship tees. Really though, this is as fair a golf course as one could hope to play, if the wind is on vacation.

Next time you are passing through Columbus, Ohio and have some spare time for golf, give The Phoenix Golf Links a look. In fact, stay tuned to Bag Chatter for part two; an upcoming interview with Mr. Paul Miller, (golf architect) about "landfill" golf courses. Paul is currently designing a course atop a landfill in Minnesota right now.

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  1. When I designed The Phoenix, #18 finished at the clubhouse, playing due south along the eastern boundary. Evidentally, they must have switched the 9’s for some reason. #8 (the par 3 in the bottom picture) and #9 were located on an “off landfill” piece of land thatwas used as a location for the irrigation reservior since building a lake on a landfill is costly and potentially problematic. Although common belief is that landfills settle the most in the first few years, this isn’t the case. I have settlement occuring annually 15 yrs after closure on a course I manage in the Chicago area.

    Tim Nugent, ASGCA