Month: November 2022

Raintree Golf Club, Akron, Ohio, USA

A huge imposing stars and stripes flag was wafting above the tree line, towering over and dominating the car park on arrival.

Guiding us through and into the clubhouse, which it has to be said did resemble a working mans cafe rather than a plush clubhouse, we were ushered into the pro-shop, to we had hoped, meet the manager.  Sadly it seemed the manager didn’t want to come out of her booth and greet us,  Although, through an internal window, she could see us, and we could see her.  She was alerted to our arrival via an internal call to which she responded by giving instructions to her colleague in the pro-shop.  The lady in the pro-shop was so friendly and helpful this bitter rebuff was lessened.

Raintree is a public course and looking at the course with the clubhouse behind us, it looked as good as any others with its clever usage of shade over the tee boxes from the overhanging tall trees, the striking green of the fairways and the complimentary planting.

With no ‘starter’ on the first, we were told to wander down and start playing.  As we were close to our tee-time this suited us anyway, so off we trot.

Once we were away from the clubhouse, the course took on a rather less appealing appearance.  The holes were invariably flat and uninspiring and as we’d caught up with the group in front of us we could see we were in for a long round.  It turned out, three groups in front of us were a four ball – three were walking and one was riding in a buggy – this group became the bane of the day with their extraordinary slow play which certainly lessened the enjoyment of our playing experience without compromising our course review.  

Bearing in mind there is a course for everyone and being more tolerant and charitable, it was a Friday afternoon and I’m sure being a public course, did get people finishing work early to go and play golf.  That said a course marshal would have made ours, and the groups around us who were also held up, better about being there.

So whinging done, what was the course really like?  

The greens were large and in amazing condition but, it has to be said the front nine didn’t inspire us, the fairways were patchy and seemed like they had seen better days.  Or in contrast, the fairway grass was so long the ball didn’t roll and was thick enough to be problematic too.

Although the sun was shining and it was dry, it was a cooler day.  Maybe the chill was enhanced by the waiting on every shot?  The 5th was the first hole with a little more interest with its sweeping fairway around a small pond to a narrow entrance to the green.  The water was in play for a few of the holes with the 7th again allowing for play over or around the water to a fairly guarded green – with an out of bounds lurking.

Just as we were about to lose the will to live, we turned and took on the back nine, vowing if it was the same, we’d cut our losses and walk in.

Hole 10, a par 4, 250/355 yards was a dog leg left of almost 90 degrees.  I know some don’t like such doglegs as it can spoil the big hitters drives, but it was actually a nice change.  The driving range on the right with little or not protection from any wayward golf balls ended up on the 10th .  This made it quite the lottery to find your ball, if you’d played safe to the outside of the dog leg.

Glad to say things did improve on the back nine, in fact it was as it it was a different course.  But it seems that whilst you’re starting to win in one way, you get knocked down again in another – the highway was really noisy on the 13th – so much so, I had to shout for the microphone – ok I did exaggerate the shouting and caused lots of giggles, but it was a real shame that the constant drone spoilt such a great hole.  This par 4 of 321/461 yards had a ditch guarding its approach to make it a little more challenging.  

Certainly the back nine was shaping up to be the stronger nine with the 14th also a nice hole cut in and around the long grass right.  Sadly the heavy rain had made the surface on the left a bit like a watery blister as it rippled underneath your feet.  Some cart drivers not paying attention (or not caring?) had churned it up as they happily sped along, seemingly oblivious the damage they were causing.

On the reverse of the noisy highway and the bubbly fairways we saw deer, red and black squirrel and a chipmunk (we think!) enjoying themselves as they happily shared this green space with the golfers.

The 17th was also a good hole and as the end was in sight, our spirits were lifted knowing this arduous game was coming to an end.  And end on a high it did, with the 18th being probably one of the better holes on the course.

A slight dog leg right off the tee with water at the front and right of the green.  A small stream dissected the fairway along its length, careful navigation to make the green in regulation is needed.  The large shaded green was nestled in a sunken hollow.   Such a nice closing hole.

And what of the club manager when we’d finished our game? – oh well, she had gone home.

Of the ones we’d played, Raintree seemed to be the poor relation of the Penn Ohio Golf Trail, that said, a good selection of golf course is always great to encourage more participation and diversity across the board.

Put these words into video and watch it unfold on

Instagram @Travellifestylegolf

Twitter @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

Facebook @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

You Tube @Travel Lifestyle Golf

Connect with me on LinkedIn @Sarah Forrest or @Steve Forrest

The River Club, Johannesburg

Sometimes, just sometimes, you’re given the opportunity to play a course that sticks in your mind for months afterwards.

The River Club in Johannesburg is one such place.

It is an exclusive golf club that is revered within the local golfing community, so when we were given the opportunity to play it, we jumped at it.  

So well hidden is it, that our relatives who have lived in that area for many years, weren’t exactly sure where it’s entrance was.  Driving past one luxury house after another, it was hard to believe that this course could even exist and how it could be as good as they say when in the middle of, to put it bluntly, a housing estate.

Once inside the grounds, a bit like the tardis, the area opened up leaving the houses behind in favour of crisp sways of green thoughtfully edged with striking contrasting planting.

The clubhouse is decorated in neutral and earthy shades which was a great backdrop for the photos, certificates and tasteful artwork on display  The inside sung in harmony within its surroundings as the eye is drawn through the building to the expanse of manicured green beyond.

Harry was our caddy, he was a little quiet to start with but soon cracked a smile at our antics and occasional good golf.  The first hole with its wide fairway and lush green grass – the shade of green a child would have chosen when drawing their perfect house; four windows, a door in the middle and inviting green grass all around.

Getting to test the bunkers on hole one isn’t normal something you’d be happy to share, but as they were fluffed up and the ball was playable in the not too soft sand, it’s one I’m happy to talk about – in fact all the bunkers we visited were the same even good quality.

So why is the River Club still playing on my mind all these months later?  It isn’t an old established course; the type that usually gets me excited.  It was actually established in 1967 by designer Bob Grimsdell – this is not even a course designer I know much about.  Rob O’Friel came in 1998 to do some upgrades, again not a name I know a lot about.  But despite The River Club not rated in the Top 100 (through choice), it is rated as one of the best in South Africa, so why?

To me the main one being, it is playable.  Often courses are designed to be played from the tips, with little regard given to all the tee box positions, I’ve known some clubs simply plonk forward tees somewhere down the middle of the fairway.  The River Club doesn’t do that, it seems to cherish and embrace all golfers of all abilities, giving each tee position a chance at some good golf yet doesn’t punish you if it isn’t quite right on the day.  It has balanced the risk and reward evenly yet is not a walk in the park, although with the green expanses, flowers and local birds, in other ways it did seem like a walk in the park!

Tee boxes were even, I know that sounds silly, but I cannot tell you how many tee boxes I’ve stood on, more often from the forward tees, and they have been like mini mountain ranges as you try to find your footing!

Sure it is in a rich ‘tropical’ setting with the river running alongside some of the holes, but it is also in the middle of Johannesburg, which seems almost a contradiction to the club and course offerings.  That said Johannesburg has changed in the 30 odd years we’ve been visiting.  As with most places, there are taboo areas but these are fewer and further between – they even have an open top bus tour of downtown Jo’burg! 

Whilst taking in this super course and enjoying all it could throw at us, with some mixed responses! the half way house came far too quickly.  Although it was on the 12th hole and past half way, it seemed like the blink of the eye and we were sat there enjoying drinks and a snack in the invitingly sculptured shade with windows through the overhanging canopies of the trees to the course.

On hitting onto the fairways, the bounce was fair – it wasn’t so dried up that the ball bounced for miles, exaggerating any wayward shot and punishing you unnecessarily.  On the reverse the fairways didn’t plug either – stopping the ball from any forward roll or gain.


Despite its location, there was barely any road noise, and no houses, that I can remember, overlooking the golf course either – it was as if an invisible barrier had grown around The River Club, a barrier only a select few could penetrate, but once through.…

When the large greens give some bite on the approach shots, then roll perfectly, whilst offering enough break to make you think about it, you know the greenskeepers took pride in their work.

Greenskeepers were plentiful – all diligently working at different tasks from tending the flora on most tee-boxes, to grass cutting, to the caddies making sure the bunkers were returned to the fluffy surfaces once again.

On finishing your round, the 18th green sits just below the clubhouse.  The large terrace of the clubhouse is dotted with tables and chairs and of course spectators for your approach shot on this final hole.  

One side of the clubhouse was opened up to give the inside diners uninterrupted views of the course.  A small lake to the right of the  approach on the 18th green meant you could go over the lake, or play safe to the left.

The River Club gives choices.  I’m not talking about the amazing menu choices!  Choices whilst playing your game, choices that can give the rewards yet gently allow you to become too big for your boots.

In all, a class act, and one we’d like to repeat at some time and importantly, definitely one we’d recommend.

You can book your golf round directly through the River Club.

Watch these words unfold on our bitesize video on

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @TravelLifestyleGolf (Golf Guru Group)

We are a husband and wife team who not only bring golf to the masses but through words and video we bring it alive for you too.  Enjoy

Sarah Forrest

Golf Guru Group

Instagram @Travellifestylegolf

Twitter @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

Facebook @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

You Tube @Travel Lifestyle Golf

Connect with me on LinkedIn @Sarah Forrest or @Steve Forrest

Trumbull Country Club

There certainly was a rumble in Trumbull on the day we played with the grey skies threatening rain.

Trumbull Country Club is part of the Penn Ohio Golf Trail.  Driving down the long driveway, into a welcoming neighbourhood setting with the course on the right and residences on the left.

Further along the driveway and the mock Tudor style (in places) clubhouse sitting comfortably in it surroundings behind a good sized practice putting green.  The flag pole proudly flying the stars and stripes alongside the state flag.

It has to be said that the clubhouse doesn’t reveal all until you venture inside and realise that this place is not only comfortable and relaxing but a place for all – golfers and non golfers alike.  Families are encouraged to get involved and there is a nice, almost familiar atmosphere about the club.

After an incredibly hearty lunch and our first taste of the long discussed wedding soup*, we then had to try and play golf on a full stomach.  Not only that we had to race against the threatening rain looking menacing in the distance.

With the course undergoing new routing and a few more changes, you could go slightly awry due to the lack of signage. But a good course of action was to follow your nose, well, the cart path, so we did find our way around the course OK. This is only a temporary blip, awaiting new signage.

The first takes you away from the clubhouse on a friendly unassuming opening hole, which we both parred.  Now bearing in mind I was 0.5 and Steve 1.5, I knew today was an important match in the early days of our Penn Ohio series!

So off we trundle, or would that be Trumbull!   Keeping a watchful eye on the weather and playing the best we both could; whilst also assessing the course, taking photos and videos and enjoying this lovely established parkland (woodland in places) course.  

With roots dating back to 1915, Canadian course designer Stanley Thompson put his mark on this course alongside seven more courses in Ohio.  Not really a course designer I knew much about before this trip, it was great to see Thompson had adopted the traditional style of golf : playable if sensible!

Knowing sensible isn’t always my style of play, it remained to be seen what this game would bring, especially as the course was tight in places!  

Being a woodland  x parkland style course, playing off the 4th tee was like playing off bubble wrap, with its acorn potted tee box as you tried to get a good stance.  In many respects playing Trumbull Country Club was very similar to playing golf courses in the UK, and most probably why we endeared to it.

The 9th fairway dissects the entrance road in, but stood on the tee of the 9th, you don’t really get the feel the road is in the way or even in play.  A par 5 from the forward tees and a par 4 from the rest of the tee positions, there was plenty of space, so long as you were going forward and not sideways into the trees!  Crossing the road to the large receptive, but fairly flat green certainly showed the clubhouse in it’s full glory on the left.  All the greens were in great condition.

Maybe at this point we should have taken refuge, but looking down 10, it looked far too inviting.  A fairly straight par 4 with a little pond to the right of the tee, we decided to carry on, heading towards the darker skies, with our fingers crossed.

The 10th sits alongside the entrance road the course, as such the houses sat on the other side of the road and weren’t really in play.  Somehow we managed to put them (rather their gardens) in play as we found Steve’s golf ball in the front garden of one residence.  Gingerly walking across the open plan garden, we bought it back into play by placing it back on the fairway and carried on – quickly!

Got to say Steve wasn’t haven’t his best golfing moments on the back, and as we’d halved the front nine, I wasn’t going to make it worse by “helping”

Hole 12, a lovely par 3 over water at only 101 yards forwards tees and 130 for mid tees, water in front and the busy main road to the right, the rain started to become a little annoying.  On the green in one and two putts made me the winner of this hole.  With a blob and the rain pouring down now, the game was over in more than one way for Steve.

We did actually tee off 13, but the rain got the better of us as we scooped up the balls and made a beeline to the clubhouse, sodden.

We stopped after playing 12 with the promise to return if we could find a gap in our schedule for the remainder of our trip.


Sadly we didn’t get that opportunity, so the win was chalked up to me and the Penn Ohio match now again all-square at 1.5 to 1.5

In summary, I wished we had got the opportunity to return, as playing Trumbull Country Club wasn’t just about the nice course.  It was about the whole experience; from the friendly welcome in the pro-shop, to the great food and club atmosphere in the clubhouse. 

Sarah Forrest

Golf Guru Group

Instagram @Travellifestylegolf

Twitter @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

Facebook @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

You Tube @Travel Lifestyle Golf

*Wedding Soup

Peculiar to Ohio and Pennsylvania, although it can be found in other places.

Wedding soup or Italian wedding soup is an Italian soup consisting of green vegetables and meat. It is popular in the United States, where it is a staple in many Italian restaurants

The name wedding comes from the Italian phrase minestra maritata which means ‘married soup. ‘ Why is it married? It’s the marriage of ingredients, and the resulting delicious flavour, in the soup! All wedding soups are going to have green vegetables and meat and as we discovered varies from one restaurant/household to the next!

Olde Stonewall Golf Club

Olde Stonewall, Penn Ohio Golf Trail, Pennsylvania.

Skipping over to the Ohio border into Pennsylvania to play Olde Stonewall, second in our Penn Ohio series and part of the Penn Ohio Golf Trail.

Met with an imposing castle like structure, stone built and very much in your face in a Disney esque way.  If you can divert your eyes away and towards the golf course, you’ll be immediately struck by the Clarice Cliff style hillocks as they duck and dive sweeping into each other into infinity.  With the odd golf flag showing its head flapping bravely in the wind commanding attention as if drowning in a sea of green, to be lost as the wind drops.


Dots of trees cling to the edge of the fairways, just starting to show the true colour of autumn.

The magical mystery tour of Olde Stonewall golf doesn’t stop there – the water comes into play from hole four – a shortish par 4 299/434 yards, SI (handicap) 4.  It’s dark reflective water mirroring the early autumnal scene.  The hole plays alongside the water on the right, then the green takes a little turn into the middle of the water forcing you to re-think your approach.  A green, albeit large, with water on three sides takes some nerve.

By the eighth hole the sun came out, underfoot started to dry out and the layers started to be peeled off.  The course took on a whole new look as the back nine beckoned.

First thing I noticed about the back nine – there were no par 5’s, doesn’t lead you into thinking about the course as having much imagination or options.  But you’d be wrong, in fact the back nine was more spectacular than the front, with its elevation changes, shots through trees and overall appearance of ‘come and get me’ holes. 

Long grass, akin to a links style framed the tee box of the ninth and by the eleventh, an elevated tee gently entices you to shoot for the perfect diamond cut fairways then taunting you as the ball rolled sharply left to right on the slope.  The green itself was large, as others had been, this one also had subtle breaks as it sloped back to front.

Then you climb higher up to the twelfth to a plateau shooting towards large green spaces of fairway interspersed with longer grass towards another large green.  On reaching thirteen, you’re taken in, Olde Stonewall has cast its magic spell with this elevated par 4, followed quickly in succession with the par 3 fourteenth.  Even from the elevated tee the green looks huge.  Back to back par 3’s the 15th is such a pretty golf hole – again that elevation, and again the feeling I can do this as I took my shot which bounced off the left edge of the green and into a deep bunker.  I played the middle position tees on this hole as they were just more interesting and challenging at 164 yards.  Not really appreciating how low this bunker was, my mind was focussed on getting on with it but I was stopped in my tracks as I approached the bunker as I saw a large rodent type animal.  This turned out to be a ground hog who proceeded to saunter out of the bunker at leisure and squat on my golf ball on route!  Not sure if it was trying to hatch it or mark it, but left me in fits of giggles as I got the ball out to a few feet of the pin for an easy par.

The sixteenth also bought pleasures of its own.  The  elevated tee not only gave you that sense of whack-ability but nudged you into taking stock and appreciating how pretty Pennsylvania is with this tee shot being through a gap in the canopy of the trees to a large sweeping fairway below.  

As you descend down towards the closing holes, it was good to look back and wonder what on earth happened up there as you marvel at the trees hugging the hillsides and the golf course plotting itself around them.

The only downside to Olde Stonewall was the lack of care and attention – the greenskeepers were plentiful, all were cutting the grass, but sadly the bunkers were left un-raked and the greens were rarely repaired.  Such a shame for such a great course, that said, we’d definitely go back – not least because Steve won and now took the lead following our first game half at Pine Lakes!  It’s still all to play for – I kept reminding myself with six more courses to play!

Put these words into video and watch it unfold 

Sarah Forrest

Golf Guru Group

Instagram @Travellifestylegolf

Twitter @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

Facebook @golf guru group (Travel Lifestyle Golf)

You Tube @Travel Lifestyle Golf

Scroll to top