Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Mill Creek Golf Course


Mill Creek Golf Course – Fairway North Course. Photo by Jack Pearce [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

I will admit up front that my connection with Mill Creek Golf Course is a slender one. I’m not a golfer. Given my hand-eye coordination and temperament, this would probably be, in words often attributed to Mark Twain, “a good walk spoiled.” My brother was the golfer, and I was delighted when he let his “little brother” “caddy” for him when he and some buddies went golfing. Besides remembering when one of the buddies got so mad after one shot that he flung one of his clubs at a tree, I mostly remembered the beauty of the tree-lined fairways and sipping a cold Coke while my brother and his buddies enjoyed more adult beverages after a round of golf.

The tree lined fairways reflected the design work of Donald Ross, once one of the premier golf course designers in the United States. Ross grew up in Scotland, the birthplace of the game of golf and home to some of its most fabled courses. Ross designed the golf course at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina and the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Caroline, the home of the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship. In all, he designed over 400 courses around the country. His designs were marked by careful attention to detail and by creating challenging courses while moving very little earth, working with the natural contours and features of the land.

The Mill Creek Golf Course was opened in 1928. It consists of two 18 hole, par 70 courses, the North Course and the South Course. The Mill Creek Metropark website describes the different challenges of the two courses:

“The South Course plays over a flat terrain with tree-lined fairways. Natural areas and streams come into play on five holes. The South Course has been selected by Golfweek as one of America’s 30 Best Municipal Courses. The North Course weaves through tall trees and includes a variety of natural hazards.”

There are over one hundred bunkers on the course. In 2018, as part of course upgrades, the bunkers, beginning with the South Course have been restored, with improved drainage and bright white play sand, making them easier to see, and hopefully avoid. Donald Ross once said, “There’s no such thing as a misplaced bunker. Regardless of where the bunker may be, it is the business of the player to avoid it.”

The Fieldhouse, built in 1929 includes a pro shop and restaurant. Mill Creek also has golf pros on staff who offer golf instruction.

In addition to the natural beauty and challenge of the course, one thing that makes the course special is that it is a public course, serving area residents first. Mahoning County residents qualify for a discount on the course, but the highest price that non-residents will pay for 18 holes of golf riding in a golf cart is $41.00 ($34.00 for residents). Seniors over 60, and those under 17 choosing to walk can play 18 holes for $16–less than a dollar per hole.

If you are going to be in the area, it is recommended that you schedule your tee time online. People have different experiences on the course, often weather or time-of-play related. On TripAdvisor, 82 percent of people have rated the course excellent or very good. The course, especially the South Course, can get boggy when there have been heavy rains. Especially heavy rains at the end of May 2019 closed the course due to flooding and debris for several days. From reviews, it appears that the pace of play sometimes can be very slow, especially on weekends, and excellent at other times.

Mill Creek Golf Course has been serving area residents for over 90 years, offering natural beauty, especially in the autumn, and challenging play on a course designed by one of the great golf course designers of the time. It is encouraging to hear that the course is investing in upgrades, to preserve yet one more jewel of the Mahoning Valley.