A right turn out of our neighborhood, followed by three lefts, and I am entering the parking lot of the Valley View Golf Club on Cuyahoga Street. On spring or summer evenings, I try to make the quick trip, looking to beat the sunset as I chase my ball for another nine holes. What invariably arrives after a hole or two is that soothing impression of getting away, a good walk rarely spoiled, a detente long ago reached with the many imperfections in my game.
Valley View isn’t found on lists of “gotta play there.” It has had odd neighbors, at least for a golf course, the Akron Workhouse for a time, and now the massive collection bin, Rack 40, for storm water overflow, city repair of the outmoded combined sewer system. Yet the course is minutes from the house, and thus near the center of the city, the amenities in its convenience — and surprisingly more.
A week ago, Jim Carney, a Beacon Journal staff writer, noted the death of Carl Springer, at age 95, the man who built and designed Valley View more than five decades ago. He had the vision to see in a dairy farm the layout for a golf course, the idea then emblematic of a changing economic landscape, from agriculture to the recreation available in something more industrial and prosperous.
The glimpse that Carney provided of Springer adds to the appreciation of what he achieved, a man captured by the game at a young age, doing what he loved to do, leaving the course, and Sycamore Valley not far away, to his family, his son now in charge.
Valley View features 27 holes, the most recent nine opening in 1975. There is enough to entertain this player. The Lakes brings changes in elevation, the seventh hole, for instance, heading uphill, the eighth in the other direction, each with a tee shot that requires that tricky element of accuracy.
At times, I find myself captured more by one of the nines, then the preference mysteriously changes. Of late, it has been the Valley, the approach shot at number two a test for the eye and mind, the fairway before the green plunging toward the Cuyahoga River, the green itself seemingly perched and elusive. The sixth hole demands precision I too rarely have, a chute for the tee shot and then an approach to a green protected by a towering tree.
Yet it is the next two holes that often charm, and not for the golf so much. It is the way the sky opens, the light and shadows playing, deer occasionally emerging, the quiet enveloping. A week ago, a full moon began its watch, positioned above a swatch of clouds, the hue in pink. I couldn’t resist as I walked from the eighth green to the ninth tee. I grabbed my phone to capture the image, the moment much more memorable than any shot I had hit.
— MICHAEL DOUGLAS
Editorial page editor