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Hills’ Legacy is Linked to Maumee Bay
Toledo Course Personifies Architect’s Design Philosphy
Good golf architects can manipulate and manufacture interesting layouts with bulldozers and Bobcats. It’s the great ones who can accomplish the same feat plus so much more by simply allowing a property’s natural attributes chart the course for them. It is this difference — along with utilizing textures and colors, shadowing and framing — that defines the more than 200 courses Arthur Hills built in his illustrious career.
One of Toledo, Ohio’s favorite sons passed away in May 2021 at the age of 91. But Hills’ legacy, and the impact he had on nearly every segment of the course design business for more than five decades, will certainly endure. In fact, his handiwork can be enjoyed at more than two dozen courses included in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and three Midwest TeeTime Golf Passes. Among the best: The Virtues (formerly Longaberger) in Nashport, OH, Legendary Run in Cincinnati, OH, Legacy by Arthur Hills in Ottawa Lake, MI, University Club of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, and The Links at Lighthouse Sound in Bishopville, MD.
Hills grew up just across the railroad tracks from Ottawa Park in Toledo, a wonderful municipal course built at the turn-of-the-century. Early in his design career he fashioned Detwiler Park Golf Course nearby, a friendly par-71 layout with terrific views that, if you’re not careful, can sneak up and take a bite out of your scorecard. However, if you crave more, it is another Hills’ creation just a few miles away that serves up even bigger proportions of his immense design talent.
Acclaimed by regional and national golf publications, alike, Hills’ Maumee Bay State Park course in Oregon, OH, covers over 1,850 acres of protected wetlands and follows the beautiful north coast of Ohio. Opened in 1991, Hills designed this unique Scottish-style links layout complete with low rolling mounds, tall fescues, few trees, and numerous sand bunkers and ponds. Maumee Bay has a distinct resort feel, and one can almost hear the faint sounds of bagpipes playing as they maneuver the par-72, 6,914-yard track.
Hills’ design philosophy — courses that are natural, that relate carefully to the property, and that require very little earth moving — is captured to a tee at Maumee Bay. The flat terrain was left intact, providing sweeping vistas that are as scenic as they are deceptive. The fairways do look wide and, for the most part, are indeed. But miss one and your ball will likely be swallowed whole by the tall native grasses that define or outline most holes. And if the brush doesn’t get you, the course’s many water hazards certainly will.
Hill also took into account the wind when designing Maumee Bay. Stiff breezes coming off Lake Erie can play havoc with club selection, sometimes adding an extra 30-40 yards carry when blowing from behind. Turn the corner, however, and one of the course’s four par 3s may require up-clubbing to a fairway metal to reach what would ordinarily be a 6 or 7-iron.
The par-5, 525-yard No. 14 is far and away the toughest hole. Rated the No. 1 handicap, it turns left-to-right between two ponds, creating a funnel-like effect. Squeeze through the gauntlet and you’re left with a delicate approach shot to an oblong, diagonal green pitched to the left and fronted by water.
As with most of his courses, Hills took a traditional or historic approach when laying out Maumee Bay. Interesting shot angles, beautiful grasses and plants, sweeping views and vistas, gentle mounding, and other design subtleties combine to form a fair and balanced course that is both strategically sound and pleasing to the eye. Best of all, he allowed the property to speak for itself.
For golfers who live in the Toledo area or who travel there on business or vacation, Maumee Bay deserves to be at the top of their must-play list. A round there is a fitting tribute to Hills, who put his heart and soul into every course he designed. TeeTime Golf Pass members can also take advantage of several great promotional offers listed in their passbooks, making a visit to Maumee Bay all the more satisfying.