Linwood Country Club believes a golf facility can be informal, yet exclusive. "We're the 'Cheers' of golf establishments," says Jeff LeFevre, the director here for the last 25 years, in comparing this member-owned course to the famous '80s sitcom. "Everybody here knows your name, what you drink, where your locker is and all those good things. We make people feel at home here."
This is for the privileged few, however. About 300 members own this establishment, which means they also pay for improvements and determine who plays it. The best access is by invitation from a member, or by belonging to another club with privileges here. While the public cannot play this 90-year-old course, a certain number of Press readers do fit the qualifications.
To become a member, you must fill out an application. Applicants require two sponsors, and their bids are put before a membership committee.
It's a nice layout, designed by Herbert Strong, a noted architect of the 20th century. One of his projects, Canterbury Golf Club outside Cleveland, has hosted U.S. Opens, one Senior Open, a Professional Golf Association tournament and U.S. Amateur championship.
Strong was known for work around the greens, a hallmark of Linwood's design. The small greens create the challenge of this course, which sports modest length of 6,339 yards from the back tees and 6,019 from the forward set. Greens won't hold a line-drive approach that was supposed to be a high, arcing effort. On the flip side, once players reach the green, they won't be looking at long putts. Pitch-and-run approaches are also an option here.
Linwood is all about the approach shot and mid to high irons. There won't be many obstacles to trap tee shots. Par 4s run between 350 and 390 yards, and there are two par 5s - including the 17th, which measures 540 from the back tee - and mid-range par 3s. Courses of this type often play harder than they look.
About 10 years ago, the club decided to expand the variables for a good round. It renovated, with two purposes.
"We wanted to make it easier to break 100," LeFevre said, "but harder to break 80. We took some of the tee boxes and made them much longer, which played into the harder side of breaking 80. With some of the green complexes, we made them larger, enabling them to hold more shots and help the people trying to break 100."
The signature hole is the seventh, Linwood's longest par 4 at 440 yards. An ideal tee shot travels left to right, clearing the meadows located about 180 yards from the tee and setting up a good look at the approach shot. Unless the drive has reached at least 240 yards, however, consider laying up on the second shot. A stream runs across in front of the green, giving players almost no margin for error. Hit it short and you're swimming. Muscle it, and the ball will come out so hot the green won't hold it.
Follow that with the par-3 eighth, about 200 yards. It's total carry, with a bit of fairway on the left to safely chip from if the tee shot doesn't reach the green.
Come ready to hit accurate irons and enjoy quick greens.
"The fairways are tight and the greens are in the fastest mode they've ever been in," LeFevre says.
Linwood Country Club
500 Shore Road, Linwood
Accessibility: Through invitation by members or reciprocal agreements with other country clubs.
Website: http://www.linwoodcountryclub.com/" target= "_blank">www.linwoodcountryclub.com