By Michael Pramik
Posted On: Aug 18, 2021
While the best players in golf annually tee it up at Jack Nicklaus' own Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, those seeking to step up to that level compete in a tournament where Jack dominated in college – the Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University Golf Club.
Scottie Scheffler poses with the trophy after winning the 2019 Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. Photo credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
This year's Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship, a stop on the PGA's Korn Ferry Tour, will be held there Aug. 26-29. The Korn Ferry Tour is the PGA's developmental circuit, and golf fans will no doubt recognize some of the stars who have emerged on the big tour after winning the event, like Justin Thomas, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler.
General admission to the tournament is free. That's a welcome change from 2020, when the pandemic kept fans away.
It's the championship's 15th year, and this time it's the middle leg of the Korn Ferry Finals, a three-tournament competition that'll help to award PGA Tour cards to those players who didn’t make the top-25 points list during the tour's regular season.
It's also a boon to the hospital, which annually treats more than 1 million children. The hospital's pediatric cancer program is the main beneficiary of charity dollars, and since the tournament's inception, it has raised more than $16.2 million to support the program. Each year the event begins with The First Shot to Fight Cancer, a ceremonial tee shot by a young cancer patient.
The Golf Channel will broadcast the tournament from Thursday's opening round to the trophy presentation on Sunday.
Viktor Hovland of Norway chips onto the green on the 17th hole during the final round of the 2019 Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. Photo credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty
The Scarlet Course
Ohio golf fans know that central Ohio boasts some special courses – four of the top six in the state, according to Golf Digest. Muirfield Village is at the top – but a little further down in the top 20 is the Scarlet Course.
There's history written all over both layouts at OSU – the Scarlet Course and the Gray Course. Alister MacKenzie, who with Bobby Jones co-designed the famed Augusta National Golf Club, designed both layouts at OSU, completing the Scarlet Course in 1938 and the Gray Course two years later.
Nicklaus' design firm took on a major remodeling of the Scarlet Course in 2005-06, toughing it up to become more challenging to modern players using better equipment. In doing so he greatly increased the size (and depth) of many of the bunkers and added more contour to the greens.
The Scarlet Course has been host to the most collegiate championships of any course in the country – 14 women's national and NCAA championships and 10 men's NCAA Championships. It's by far the more difficult of the two OSU courses – stretching out more than 7,400 yards – and is generally well-respected by professional golfers.
Scarlet Course No. 13, par-3
Even with added distance, much of Scarlet's beauty reflects MacKenzie's original routing, which requires golfers to think as much as bash. While any course can punish wayward drives, for instance, on several holes here tee shots that are a bit wide of the ideal driving spot can send the golfer scrambling to get close to the hole.
The course's charm also can be found in its location – a grassy oasis in the busy 'burb of Upper Arlington, wedged between major roads so you never completely forget where you are.
It's a semi-private club, open to those with some affiliation to OSU, including students, staff and members of the OSU Alumni Association. The club's restaurant is open to the public.
Photo credit: The Shops on Lane Avenue, Facebook
What To Do
Upper Arlington is a hop, skip and jump from many of Columbus' top tourism attractions. But for some fun family time and some quick shopping, stick close by.
The Shops on Lane Avenue is a collection of 30 small stores and restaurants that offer name brand appeal, such as Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond and Chico's. There's a great cigar store – Barclay Pipe Tobacco & Cigar – at the outdoor mall, as well as eateries, clothing and specialty stores. It's the centerpiece of a busy retail corridor west of Kenny Road along Lane Avenue, which also runs alongside the OSU campus.
Across the street from the shopping center lies several restaurants and other assorted eateries. Try La Chatelaine for authentic French pastries and wonderful coffee, and Graeter's for some homegrown Ohio ice cream.
Go a bit north along Northwest Boulevard, and you'll encounter Kingsdale Shopping Center, which in recent years has been reborn with many retail and service businesses. They include a supermarket, pharmacies and restaurants. A bit south along Tremont Road you'll find The Original Goodie Shop, which offers cookies, cakes, breads, luscious Buckeye candies and a collection of officially licensed The Ohio State University sweets.
Just north of Kingsdale you'll find the city's Reed Road Water Park, an outdoor pool and play area open to the public. The park itself includes an interesting boulder garden that's fun for kids to roam around in. The fabricated rocks have holds and ledges to help kids climb.
Where To Eat
Cameron Mitchell restaurants are well known among central Ohioans and have meant fine, casual dining since the early 1990s. And as Mitchell grew up in Upper Arlington, there are several choices in and nearby the suburb to dig into one of his creations.
Along Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington, you'll find Hudson 29, featuring American cuisine influenced by both the West Coast and New York's Hudson Valley. That's where Mitchell learned his trade, at the Culinary Institute of America. The "29" refers to state Rt. 29, which winds through California's wine country.
On the easily approachable menu you'll find sushi, salads and sandwiches, as well as salmon, prime rib and barbecued St. Louis ribs. The dinner menu has an expanded entrée selection, including Shanghai Sea Bass, a center-cut filet and pan-seared scallops. Hudson 29 boasts a wine list topping 100 selections.
Where To Stay
Staying near OSU is a priority for many, and along Olentangy River Road, there are plenty of quality options.
Hilton Garden Inn is in that perfect location – just two miles from both the OSU campus and the golf club, and a short distance from state Rt. 315. The hotel opened in 2007, a linchpin in a noticeable redevelopment of the Olentangy River Road corridor. It's owned and operated by Columbus-based Indus Properties, which has built a reputation for customer service while developing a dozen hotels in the city and suburbs.
Hilton Garden Inn's amenities include free parking and free wi-fi, an indoor pool, workout room, on-site restaurant, business center and meeting rooms. The 158 rooms include mini fridges, microwave ovens and coffee makers.
Photo credit: CRPD Golf, Facebook
Where To Play
While the golf courses at Ohio State are open only to members, donors and alumni of the university, there's no shortage of great public links in central Ohio.
A classic nearby course is Champions Golf Club, owned by the city of Columbus. Champions was originally a 9-hole layout put together during the Roaring 20s. Two decades later, noted architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. reworked the course and added nine holes.
Today, thanks to the brilliant design that took advantage of the hilly terrain and the growth of the surrounding trees, Champions is known as one of the more challenging public courses in the area. There are several difficult doglegs, starting with the first hole, as well as narrow fairways and enough twists and turns to give an average golfer fits.
Champions has gotten a huge upgrade within the last year with the addition of a new clubhouse. The 10,000-square-foot facility includes the pro shop as well as a grill room and a banquet facility. Champions also is a rarity, according to Golf Magazine, as two women lead the course – head pro Fran Kocsis and head superintendent Sherri Brogan.