Monday, January 8, 2018

Highland Country Club: Friendly, Affordable and Utterly Charming


Highland Country Club in spring (photo: HCC)


A low white fence hems a gentle boundary along Blossom Lane, the short road that cuts a path through Highland Country Club's golf course. Trees pepper small hardy hills and a spectrum of green foliage nestle and merge into acres of woodland. The 18-hole green is an expanse of bucolic terrain where wildlife is abundant and one can find solace from the hustle and bustle of everyday demands.

View of the green at Highland Country Club (photo: Golf Advisor)

In 1949, longtime member Vince Stegman wrote in a letter:

"The moment that you see the rose bushes, the ash trees, and the pear orchard that frame the approach to the club you get a deep comfort that here is a spot where nature is doing her best to release you from the world of nervous intensity"

Indeed, almost 70 years later, that sentiment holds true and Highland Country Club continues to draw members for its natural beauty, impeccably maintained course, swimming pool, friendly atmosphere and accommodating staff.

For over 100 years, greenskeepers, professional and casual golfers, club managers and volunteers have created new traditions and honored those that have been handed down. A Scottish flag flies below an American flag as a nod to the Club's heritage and history.

Highland Country Club veranda and lawn from the west (photo: HCC)

Highland Country Club was officially established in 1915 by a handful of individuals passionate about bringing golf to the area. The land upon which the green has been lovingly and carefully tended was once thick with pear, cherry and apple trees. The last of the orchard trees were alive as recently as 2006 nestled among banks of summer coneflowers, milkweed and mallow.


Changing seasons on the 18-hole course at Highland Country Club (photo: Golf Advisor)

Highland Country Club has always been known for its pastoral beauty - a characteristic that sets it apart from other local courses. The presence of nesting boxes, bird feeders and local fauna are a testament to the club's commitment to finding a balance with it's natural surroundings.

View from the green at Highland Country Club (photo: HCC)

The grounds were certified as a wildlife sanctuary by Audubon International several years ago which meant no pollution ran into the groundwater, no chemicals passed into the watershed and there were ample no mow zones for the local wildlife. Although no longer certified, the greenskeepers are committed to maintaining the spirit of the certification.


Main dining hall at Highland Country Club (photo: HCC)

In winter, the main dining hall is cozy and suffused with natural light streaming in from the many windows whose only interruption is a grand fireplace. The veranda is open during warmer months and guests can dine while being surrounded by the idyllic grounds.

Veranda and patio dining (photo: HCC)

Lunches and dinners are prepared by a star culinary team whose head is Chef Chris Smithson. Chef Smithson, formerly of Kenwood Country Club, serves up daily delights such as hand-cut steaks, spicy Cincinnati-meets-Texas chili, chicken and artichoke panini and duck breast on Caesar salad with homemade croutons. And the creme brûlée, well, c’est délicieux!


Each year young members are invited to holiday parties and recently enjoyed the annual Children's Christmas Party which featured the Frisch Marionettes, crafting and lots of holiday treats. General Manager of the Club, Dan Schlarman described the whole event as magical.

Weddings, benefits, banquets and numerous golf tournaments are among the many social events held at the Club throughout the year. 

Each June the Club hosts the Men's Highlander Golf Tournament followed by the Women's Highlander in July. The Director's Cup is held each August and opens the game up to a member and one guest. 

Table setting for the 2017 Ladies Highlander tournament (photo: HCC)

Most country clubs offer activities other than golf and Highland Country Club has offered much over the last century including bowling on the lawn, tennis, swimming and a host of public dances. 

Although public dances, lawn games and the original tennis courts have gone the way of history, bowlers can still gather for a few rounds and a stiff drink in the private four lane bowling alley on the second floor of the club. A men's bowling league meets each year from November to March and bowl while enjoying food and drinks from the bar - not a bad way to spend the cold winter months! Hosting a children's birthday party at the bowling hall is always a great time too.

Young golfers at a recent junior clinic at Highland Country Club (photo: HCC)

In addition to the annual egg hunt on the lawn at Easter Brunch and an array of social events for young families throughout the year there are educational opportunities including several junior clinics during which attendees learn from experienced golfers through a hands-on approach. It's a great opportunity to build self-confidence while connecting with peers and pros.


Highland Country Club boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool which hosts a summer swim league each year. The league is comprised of children ages 5-17 and has consistently performed well - they were champions for 10 years running! 

Highland Country Club swimming pool (photo: HCC)

Competitions are held at the 14 local country clubs that comprise the Greater Cincinnati Country Club League. Swim meets are fun, relaxed and smoothly run by a dedicated group of parent volunteers. It's a great way to connect with others with shared interests and spend those long summer days.

Highland Country Club pool crew (photo: HCC)


Recently the Club added a July through August pool only membership which has been wildly popular. Summer only members are welcome to join the swim league and participate in all the city-wide meets. 

To keep the pool from getting overcrowded the Club caps the number of memberships so there is often a waiting list. Even better, skip the waiting list and become a member. The upfront cost can be applied to a new membership if families decide to join and enjoy the Club all year long! 

Swim time at Highland Country Club (photo: HCC)


Now in the infancy of its second century, Highland Country Club has survived fires, financial difficulties, Prohibition, the Great Depression and continues to thrive, grow and enrich the lives of its members. Known as the friendliest club in the greater Cincinnati area, it is also one of the most affordable.  Membership dues will be increasing spring of 2018 so now is the time to join!

Veranda at Highland Country Club (photo: HCC)

Perhaps there is no better way to end than to recall longtime member Vince Stegman's passionate words about a place he so dearly loved.
"There is a magnificent view of the heart of Cincinnati although it is some five miles away... Highland was chosen because of its hills and ravines. These mean not only natural beauty, but the opportunity for a fine golf course. The men who chose this area for a golf course loved the ancient and royal game of golf. Next they figured ways and means for creating a club for golf".

For more information and current membership dues and fees visit Highland Country Club's website or contact general manager Dan Schlarman with questions. 

Phone: (859) 441 - 8810

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