The Golf Club at the NorthStar Golf Resort

You had to know there was very little chance that the brand new Golf Club at the NorthStar Golf Resort in Sunbury would have the traditional blue and gold tee markers once Buckeye golf legend John Cook and his father Jim got involved. So don’t be urprised when you see Scarlet and Gray tees when you go visit this Robert Weiler Company development located within 15 minutes of the I-270 loop, just off I-71 in Delaware County.

Like the tees with a familiar theme, the Cooks’ northside encore to their enormously popular Cooks Creek Golf Club in North Bloomfield, south of Columbus on US 23, figures to be similar in its playability, a fun challenge for golfers at any level of play, with an extra test for those who aspire to play at the highest levels. The “TOUR” tees at NorthStar will stretch out to nearly 7,500 yards, but those Scarlet (6700-yards) and Gray (6100-plus yards) tees will find much more enjoyable play from most, even those who venture down from that state up north!

The Cooks’ involvement in the project dates back to 1999, when the Weilers’ contacted them about routing a world-class course through the fields of the old Chope family farm. Jim Cook says the “golf people” got first dibs on the land, ahead of any of the real estate folk, and the Cooks’ had the course routed by early 2000. While zoning, infrastructure and other governmental approvals (11 of the holes are in Berkshire township, 7 in Kingston township) slowed the project somewhat, the 342-acre layout is now ready to play, complete with an 18,000 square-foot clubhouse. The course is the fifth course from John Cook Design, joining Cooks Creek, three California layouts and one in Mexico.

NorthStar has “only” 54 bunkers, but there are 19 lakes and ponds that not only handle water retention and recycling, they give this layout its character. Much of the water is near the tee boxes and can be avoided from the more forward tees, but the Cooks have tucked some of the back tees behind the lakes, creating a number of great forced carries. As at Cooks Creek, the fairways at NorthStar will be very generous (over 50 acres of fairways to catch those tee shots), but you’d better hit them because NorthStar figures to be a great secondshot challenge, with the fairways narrowing on the approaches to greens that vary from the tiny 3,500-4,000 square-foot range up to a fairly enormous 11,000 square-feet. NorthStar figures to be a fun course for players to think their way around, a risk-reward shotmaker’s delight.

The par-5s at NorthStar range from the brutish (not Brutus) 600-yard third hole to three that will measure under 500-yards for the average player, who might still find them reachable with a couple of big swings! Not only are all four of the par-3s different lengths to begin with, they’re laid out in such a way as to give you different decisions to make depending on the capricious breezes that could come from any direction. There are very few blind shots at NorthStar, and this is not one of those courses that starts you off easy and finishes with the toughest tests. You’ll be challenged right out of the box on both nines with a solid dogleg left par-4 at #1 and a great double-dogleg at the par-5 10th, steering you left with your second shot before a right-hand turn for your approach.

If you travel at all, you’ll notice some similarities between a couple of NorthStar’s holes and some legendary holes from near and far. The 12th will remind some of an uphill version of Muirfield Village’s 14th, with the approach shot forcing you to negotiate an opening only 10 paces wide at the front of the green with a steep drop-off (but thankfully, no water) to the right of the green. The green at the second hole has been designed as a mirror image of the famed fourth at Spyglass Hill, home to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the site of the first of John Cook’s 11 PGA TOUR wins. And the finishing holes on each nine are the longest par-4s on each side, the 18th a fabulous closing hole with a large wetland area down the right side, separated from the fairway by a moat, before the hole turns sharply to the right at the green.

While the course itself has been described as “burly” and “rustic”, the state-of-the-art clubhouse and practice facility is anything but. The driving range and practice area has over 100,000 square-feet of grass tee space, a complete chipping and putting area, and a six-hole par-3 course is in the works to support a version of the First Tee junior program that has been wildly successful at Cooks Creek, with over 700 kids involved.

The 18,000 square-foot clubhouse will be home to a fully-catered restaurant and bar that will comfortably seat 250 with additional private dining and meeting space available to handle outings, receptions and other special functions. The course will be open to public play and there is also a growing group of active members, even before the official opening of the course. Golf, family and social memberships are available at the resort that will include swimming and tennis facilities.

The Robert Weiler Company of Columbus is developing the resort/commercial/ gated residential community at NorthStar that will feature 3,000 homes, from condominiums to single-family residences. The Master Plan includes a conference center, hotel, swim and tennis club and hundreds of acres of open space. But in line with developing the golf course first, most of the homes will be set back far from the fairways with many holes without homes altogether.

Next to “challenge”, “convenience” is the other simple word to describe what awaits you at this newest Cook Classic. NorthStar is just east of I-71 at Exit 131 (Route 36-37). A brand new, 5-lane boulevard just off the exit will take you into NorthStar Resort, less than 15 minutes after you’ve left the I-270 loop. To find out what’s Cooking at NorthStar, visit www.northstargolfresort.com or call 740-524-GOLF.

 

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