Great memories and playing conditions in Ashtabula: Chapel Hills Golf Course
Happy to report my friend is in good hands and in fine shape.
First, a bit of personal history.
Chapel Hills was a favorite of my late father, S.J. "Joe'' Glasier. He started playing the course in the 1960s while in the North Willoughby Golf Association, a traveling league that visited dozens of public courses in Northeast Ohio.
For a period of five or so years in the 1980s, my dad would join sons David, Donald and Daniel as well as Steve the barrister, Art the neighbor with the hand towel and other acquaintances for Sunday morning rounds at Chapel Hill.
For my dad, who preferred clear sailing on the golf course, Sunday mornings at Chapel Hill meant first-available-tee-time, first-footprints-on-the-first-fairway early. Those were good times,. even if it meant getting up at 5 a.m. so we could get out there to synchronize with the first beams of sunlight filtering through the trees.
Back to the present.
With Father's Day on the near horizon, memories of my dad and those golfing Sundays put me in the mood to make the trip to Chapel Hills for the first time in a long time.
It was a picture-perfect morning, sunny and the temperature in the high-60s. I paid the senior rate for 18 holes, walking, $17, with $2 tacked on for the pull cart.
Much to my satisfaction, from tees to greens and fairways in between, the course was in superb condition. That's a credit to Ray and Jamie Banary, the Mentor residents who've owned Chapel Hills for 10 years, course superintendent Jeff Piscura and his crew.
As anyone who's played Chapel Hills will tell you, this is the dogleg-iest course in Northeast Ohio. Ten of the holes are doglegs - Five to the left, five to the right. The twists and turns take some getting used to, but as far as I'm concerned, this course's crookedness is a lovable eccentricity.
The best of the doglegs, for my money, are the par-4 second, par-4 5th, par-4 8th and par-5 12th.
Tree-lined, tight and 448 yards from the back tees, the 12th is one of the prettiest and most demanding par-5s in the area. Big hitters can think about reaching the dogleg as it turns sharply left to an elevated green. Mere mortals have to thread a second shot into the gap and leave the correct yardage for an approach into a shallow green.
Other personal favorites are the par-4, 365-yard eighth hole and par-5, 505-yard 18th hole. The latter is an exceptionally strong finishing hole, especially from a back tee that requires a tee shot navigated through a tree-lined opening.
By the way, at its maximum length of 6,038 yards, playing the back tees at Chapel Hills is not an exercise in macho delusion.
When the round was complete, I introduced myself to Jamie Banary and chatted for a while about the exemplary playing conditions. She talked about the commitment she and her husband and their three sons have made to ownership of Chapel Hills.
The basic rates at Chapel Hills are user-friendly, to say the least. It's $26 for 18 holes and a cart during the week ($23 seniors) and $31 for 18 holes with a cart on weekends. Weekday specials are really enticing: 36 holes with cart and lunch, $40; 36-plus holes with cart and lunch, $45; Monday and Thursday, 18 holes with cart, $20.
Chapel Hills is easily accessible from the Route 45 exit off Interstate 90. Off I-90, you go south on Rt. 45, hang a quick right on Austinburg Rd. and go about three miles to the course.
All things considered, Chapel Hills is an top-notch value.
Chapel Hills Golf Course
3381 Austinburg Road, Ashtabula, OH 44004