Tucked into a rolling piece of beautiful land north of Cincinnati, Ohio is one of the finest and toughest golf courses in the greater Cincinnati area and maybe even the Midwest, the TPC River’s Bend. When one mentions the great courses of Cincinnati two courses will probably come to mind before the TPC.
Coldstream Country Club (designed by Dick Wilson) and The Camargo Club (designed by Seth Raynor). Although these courses are fine classic layouts and absolutely great tests of golf, they just can’t compare to the sheer toughness that this TPC offers. I have been quite fortunate enough to have played all three of these fine golf courses. Both Camargo Club and Coldstream Country Club are consistently used as USGA qualifying sites for several amateur events each year. It is readily apparent that the TPC River’s Bend was designed strictly for competition.
TPC River’s Bend is an Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed masterpiece that was built as all TPC courses are, for top-level tournament play that can be spectator friendly when the need arises. Actually this TPC venue was the last Cincinnati area golf course to hold a big time professional tournament, that being the now defunct Kroger Senior Classic. While playing this monster it was immediately apparent that if you selected the wrong set of tees (we played the blue tees At 6700+ with a big time slope of 139!) and forget to bring along your “A+” game, you will suffer and suffer repeatedly. On many of the harder par fours there is really nowhere to bail out right or left. Be prepared to lose most of your Pro V1’s if your driving accuracy leaves you on the tee. Don’t expect to play from an adjacent fairway (it may not exist) due to many lateral stream hazards, out of bounds near the houses (these are placed well back with thick native grasses in between), well-placed (where you’d prefer them not to be!) sand traps (they don’t skimp on the quality of the sand here either) and the deep, native grass areas. Heck, I even saw a sprinkler head hidden in the tall native grasses while looking for one of my many errant shots.
The toughest par fours reward a long and straight shot off the tee. If you can accomplish this, you’re still not out of the woods. On the 410 yard par four seventeenth I hit the perfect 265 yard three wood (yes, the fairways provide some additional roll) off the tee. My second shot was a little less than 150 to a pond and sand trap protected green. It seems that one design characteristic really stood out on the toughest par fours at this TPC. It seems that Arnold Palmer designed extremely narrow greens on these holes. Penal would be a great word to describe these greens here. Add to the fact that the greens are not all that soft and you need a good dose of luck to hold the greens, even with a well struck iron shot. If you are skillful enough to reach greens in regulation you’ll still have to putt on these lightning fast greens. One other factor here are the very strong prevailing winds on many of the holes.
On most holes we were hitting into the wind. It was strange since the weather was a humid 93 degrees yesterday with some crazy winds. This odd weather combination did not help lower my final score. The conditioning at this course was nothing short of impeccable especially considering the near drought conditions we are enduring.
My biggest complaint during my round was that the pencil would not stay in the pencil holder on the cart, it kept falling out. Really quite petty of me don’t you think? Be sure and play what is, arguably the finest, toughest test of golf, and maybe the finest course conditions in the greater Cincinnati area.