Just a week before the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, The Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course presented a difficult challenge for 96 juniors competing in the Columbus Junior presented by the Memorial Tournament.
Designed by Alister MacKenzie, the course was built in 1938 and is one of the top college courses in the country. The Ohio State University Golf Club is home to golf great and former Buckeye Jack Nicklaus. After over 60 years of play, Nicklaus led a restoration to the Scarlet Course in 2005 and 2006 with intentions of getting the course back to the way Alister MacKenzie intended it to be played.
“You have the greatest player of all time in this point of the game that grew up and put his game to this test right here,” Assistant General Manager and Head Professional Brian Kelly said. “He (Nicklaus) tried to get the original contours back into the greens and modernized the bunkers while taking out a number of trees around the golf course, and that’s really what presents the challenge to the course.”
As bleachers, TV towers and hospitality tents have been going up as the week progresses, the juniors have had a front row seat at what playing in a professional tournament feels like. On a course that’s playing 6,992 yards for the Boys Division and 6,062 yards for the girls, juniors have been forced to hit long irons into firm greens.
“You’re playing a golf course that was designed where the greens are going to be firm,” Kelly said. “They were never designed to play soft and spin the ball back.”
While the grounds crew prepares the course for the Nationwide event, course conditions have become harder than usual and have forced players to be at the top of their games throughout the tournament. After gaining valuable experience on the Scarlet Course, juniors look to follow in the footsteps of golf great Jack Nicklaus.
- Written by Nick Moreland, AJGA Communications