Pick of the Month: Longaberger Golf Club, Nashport, Ohio. Forty miles east of Columbus, Ohio, the hometown of Jack Nicklaus, sits a seven-story picnic basket. Housed inside is the corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Company, the premier maker of handmade baskets in America. Another 12 miles out on Route 16 is the company-owned golf course.
Designed by Toledo, Ohio-based Arthur Hills and opened in 1999, Longaberger is among the best public courses in the golf-rich Midwest. Last year it debuted at No. 34 on GOLF MAGAZINE’s Top 100 You Can Play in the U.S. If you like long, stern par 4s — and who doesn’t? — you’ll love Longaberger. The 2nd hole measures 474 yards, the 8th plays to 444, the 13th stretches an alarming 480, and the finishing hole may make you a basket case. It reads 466 on the card but plays longer than the rest.
| LONGABERGER GOLF CLUB
State Highways 16 and 146, Nashport, Ohio;
www.longaberger.com (click on “Our Destinations”).
| OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
ticket office: 614-292-2624
| JACK NICKLAUS MUSEUM
2355 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus, Ohio;
www.nicklausmuseum.org; Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Scoring a tee time is only slightly easier than scoring on the 7,243-yard, par-72 track (Rating 75.2, Slope 138). But don’t be discouraged if the tee sheet is full; put your name on the waiting list and leave your cell phone number. Autumn Saturdays often open up when the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes play at home, as sell-out crowds of 101,568 pack Ohio Stadium.
After a little lollygagging on the Longaberger balcony, complete an ideal October day with some big-time college football. Getting into the game is tough, but check the official OSU ticket site at www.hangonsloopy.com (named for the school’s game-day anthem), or try a ticket broker such as www.all-ohio-college-football-tickets.com.
October 18 ought to be especially raucous — that’s when Ohio State plays host to 2002 Big Ten co-champion Iowa. (My virtual season using EA Sports NCAA Football 2004 had the Buckeyes beating the Hawkeyes 41-17, then losing their bid for back-to-back national titles to Texas.)
Another can’t-miss attraction is the new Jack Nicklaus Museum. Set smack in the middle of the Ohio State sports complex, it is a 24,000-square-foot Jack-fest, right down to the baby shoes no other golfer will ever fill.
The Bear’s Necessities
Luckily for golf fans, the Golden Bear doesn’t throw away much. Personal effects on display at the Jack Nicklaus Museum include Nicklaus’s Arlington High School basketball practice jersey and golf letterman’s sweater; a ballot for Ohio State homecoming queen, for which his wife, Barbara, was nominated; and the couple’s wedding invitation.
Five rooms hold memorabilia and trophies from the four professional majors and the U.S. Amateur, but the most memorable display is the museum’s Family Room. The wood paneling is the same as in the Nicklaus home, cluttered with framed photos of the Nicklaus kids and grandkids, and the home movies (Nan’s diving tournament: priceless!) are a testament to a man who’s as good a father as he was a golfer.
There is much to see, but one item, a note scribbled by a 13-year-old dashing out the door, says it all: Gone to club — Jack.
Ben’s Back Yard
Want to play the course where British Open champion Ben Curtis learned the game? Head to Mill Creek Golf Club in Ostrander, Ohio, 30 miles northwest of Columbus. His grandfather built the course; his mother, Janice, manages the place with her sisters; and Curtis’s father, Bob, is the superintendent. The course is just 6,300 yards, but the fairways are tight. It’s also inexpensive ($27, $38 with a cart), exacting and fun. 740-666-7711; www.mill creekgolfclub.com.