Moundbuilders Country Club, originally laid out by prolific architect Tom Bendelow in 1911, occupies a unique piece of ground in the game. Its namesakes were the Hopewell culture of Native Americans, who built a series of geometric berms in the area some 2,000 years ago, presumably in an effort at astronomical observation.
The land on which the private club sits envelops three of these structures: a giant octagonal mound that contains four holes, a massive circular mound that comes into play on seven holes and a smaller circular mound that nearly completely enfolds the green on the par-4 third. The ridges themselves are between six and eight feet high, creating unusual vertical hazards on several shots.
…overall the course was excellent and the layout is awesome with all the mounds going through the fairways and around the greens.”
Over the years, many similar earthworks in the area were flattened to accommodate houses, roads and other modern infrastructure. Members and other advocates argue that the existence of the club and course have contributed to their mounds’ preservation over the past century. Non-members are allowed to look at the mounds from a nearby viewing platform, and in-person tours of the mounds are offered periodically during the year.
As initially reported last year locally and last week in the New York Times, a legal battle is ongoing between the club and its landlord, the Ohio History Connection (OHC), over the club’s right to continue to exist in its current location.
The OHC’s current lease with the club runs through at least 2078, but the organization has made repeated monetary offers to the club to end the lease and reclaim the land outright. Those offers, for less than $5 million, are significantly lower than that reflected by recent appraisals of the 134-acre tract, which run past $10 million. At least that much would likely be required for the club’s members to buy the necessary land and build a brand-new golf course for their use elsewhere.
The Ohio Supreme Court is currently assessing the case, with the OHC claiming Moundbuilders Country Club can, on the basis of eminent domain, be forced out of the lease several decades before it is scheduled to end.
The question over whether it is appropriate to play golf over and among structures of significant cultural value is important to grapple with as society becomes more cognizant of the ways in which the effects of colonization, cultural erasure and oppression reverberate to the present day.
Other golf course news and notes
NEW COLLEGE HOME COURSE – If you’re a Dartmouth College golfer, the last year has been a roller-coaster. Last July, the Ivy League school in New Hampshire announced the shuttering of several of its athletics programs, including the men’s and women’s golf programs, citing a combination of reasons that included the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the institution’s finances. Dartmouth also closed the 120-year old Hanover Country Club, the home course of the Big Green’s teams. But then, in January, Dartmouth reversed course, and golf is back in business. But the Hanover course remains closed, so both teams have found a home at the upscale Montcalm Golf Club about 20 minutes south of campus. [LINK: The Golf Wire]