By Marc Hardin
Nearly 86 years of golf history are crammed into the annals at Terrace Park Country Club, erected in 1930 and completed for play in 1931. The club has seen a lot of change, received many upgrades to the course and facilities, and hosted several notable tournaments including at least half a dozen Women’s Metropolitan Amateur Championships.
“We’ve had a lot of improvements just in the last few years,” said head golf professional Mike Kelly, now in his 20th year at Terrace Park, the first 16 as assistant pro. “Over the years, there’s been an emphasis on making it a pristine course. It’s kind of a hidden gem in Cincinnati.”
And now, it’s time to show it off.
The 102nd Women’s Metropolitan returns to Terrace Park in June for the first time in 21 years. It’s the fifth Women’s Met at the Milford course since the 1950s, the fourth since 1963, the year the venue began its reputation for generating repeat champions. Margaret Jones won the second of back-to-back city championships at Terrace Park in 1963. The last time the Met was staged at Terrace Park, Kerry Zebick won the second of back-to-back crowns in 1996.
This year, 2014 Met champion Emily Stipanovich, a Terrace Park golfer who competed at Xavier University, expects to play in what would be an attempt to win her second Met crown. Stipanovich won three years ago at Four Bridges. She last played the Met in the 100th anniversary event in 2015.
“I had a conflict last year,” said Stipanovich, a veteran of four Met tournaments with three semifinal appearances. “I really enjoy the course at Terrace Park. Personally, I believe it’s one of the best most walkable courses I’ve played on in Cincinnati. A lot of ladies enjoy that. The par 3s are some of the best in the city. I played a couple weeks ago on a wet day and the course drained really well.”
The four-day 102nd Women’s Met begins with Monday June 12 qualifying at Terrace Park, located at 5341 South Milford Road. Competition continues with match play Tuesday, Wednesday and the Thursday June 15 final.
“It’s a great tournament for our club,” Kelly said. “We’re looking forward to showcasing our facilities.”
Terrace Park is building a state-of-the-art hitting facility, with putting green, chipping area and visual simulators for 88 different golf courses among the highlights. Additionally, there will be all kinds of new attractions for adults and kids alike including video games, carnival games and platform tennis. Kelly expects grand openings in early June.
Outside on the 18-hole, 6,858-yard, par-72 course, changes over the past few years have included squared-off tee boxes and reconfigured bunkers. Upgrades have been made to chipping and putting areas with the addition of outdoor mats for less than ideal weather. Improvements have augmented the venue’s natural beauty which is highlighted by tree-lined fairways with 100-year-old sycamores on the back nine, all of it situated between the Little Miami and Great Fork rivers.
GCWGA Scholarship Fund Chair Georgianne Koch, a nine-year Terrace Park member and former Met Joan Comisar flight winner, said holes Nos. 7, 13, 16 and 18 will grab golfers’ attention. “I’m very excited and the Terrace Park board is very excited that the Met is going to be there this year,” said Koch, who played the course at the 2004 Ohio Amateur before becoming a member. “The biggest challenges are the greens, which are small with bunkers all around them. The fairways are narrow and tree-lined so you can get in trouble if you don’t hit it straight.”
Terrace Park Country Club has its roots in early golf games played among friends on nearby open spaces in the late 1890s. The club credits its humble beginnings to the introduction of golf in the Village of Terrace Park by a man named Will Irwin who returned from Scotland in 1898 with some golf clubs. Irwin and his friends played the new game on vacant lots and between houses.
A club was established in 1900 and incorporated in 1910, leading to a land purchase for use as a six-hole golf course adjacent to the Little Miami River. Three more holes making for a nine-hole course were added by 1927. In 1930, the old Woodward Farm, located between the two rivers, was purchased. The first round of golf on what is now known as Terrace Park Country Club was played in 1931 by Al Werner, Charles Pease, Paul Jones and Ferd Critchell.
A swimming pool was added in 1945 on the same location as the present newer pool. The old clubhouse was virtually destroyed by fire in 1946. Only the concrete portion was reusable. Robert Critchell was hired as architect. A new clubhouse was built in 1947. There was a major renovation in 1993 and another including the building of a new golf shop adjacent to the clubhouse in 2008. Nearly 10 years later, Terrace Park is stepping up to even newer heights.
“The club has changed a lot (since 1996),” Kelly said of the last time the Met made a visit. “We can’t wait for everybody to see what we’ve done.”