A Visitor's Guide to the 2018 Barbasol Championship

By Ryan Watson

The PGA Tour heads to Nicholasville, KY for the first time July 19-22 for the 2018 Barbasol Championship. The tournament will be played at the Champions course at Keen Trace and is the first PGA Tour event hosted by the venue. The Barbasol Championship is an alternative event to the Open Championship, making it an excellent place to catch up-and-coming talent looking to make the step up into stardom. For fans planning on visiting the area, there are numerous attractions and golf courses available during your stay.


Visitor's Guide

Nicholasville is located just a short drive south of Lexington in a region of Kentucky known as "horse country" for its many horse farms. A trip to Taylor Made Thoroughbred Farm for a tour of the stables is a great way to see a working farm and race horses up close. Then take a trip to Asbury College Equine Center for guided trail rides and bird watching from horseback. History buffs will enjoy a walk through Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park, the site of a Union Army depot that was later converted to a training ground for African American soldiers, most of whom had escaped slavery during the war. The grounds features the “White House”, a confiscated Confederate home turned into Union officers' quarters and is now home to a small museum. 

After a day spent exploring, there are many local options for food including Sonny’s BBQ, a casual place known for large portions and excellent pork. For your sweet tooth try a pastry of a piece of pie at European Delight Bakery, served with some hot coffee. A short drive into Lexington gives even more options including fine dining and cocktails at Lockbox, located inside hotel and gallery 21c Museum Hotel. Customers can wander the gallery with their drinks while waiting for their entrees. Or head to Smithtown Seafood for the best fish in the area, including Southern staples like blackened or fried catfish and new favorites like the fresh tilapia raised on site. Next head over to Ethereal Brewing or West Sixth Brewery to grab a beer at either (or both) of these excellent Lexington brewers. But for true Kentucky flavor, visitors must head to the Bluegrass Tavern for one of the world’s greatest bourbon bars. Specializing in rare bourbons, the Bluegrass Tavern has over 400 bourbons available to patrons. Just be sure you have a save way back to the hotel. 


Golf Courses

While the region is best known for its thoroughbreds, central Kentucky is also the state’s best golfing region. The following are a collection of public courses you can enjoy during your stay for the Barbasol Championship. 


Houston Oaks


Houston Oaks, located in Paris, is a short drive from Lexington and home to one of the state’s best courses. The course was designed by Jack Ridge and built on the site of a former horse farm in 1996. It uses the natural environment to create an open parkland style course complete with limited trees and numerous streams and creeks. The course is a shotmakers course, but features generous enough fairways that any level of golfer can find joy. 


Golf Club of the Bluegrass 


Nicholasville’s own addition to the list, the Golf Club of the Bluegrass was designed by Barry Sarrafin and opened in 1998. The course is a forgiving and a good option for less experienced golfers. It offers numerous high risk/reward opportunities to keep it interesting for more skilled players, and water comes into play often. Be sure and also visit the clubhouses 100 year old watchtower, just another unique feature of the course. 


Gibson Bay


Gibson Bay is a municipal course in Richmond near Lake Reba. The course is located in rugged hill country and is praised for its inventive layout. Routinely considered one of Kentucky’s best courses, Gibson Bay will test every club in your bag as uphill, downhill, and water lined holes all come to play. The course is kept in immaculate condition with lush bent bluegrass the norm, though playing after recent rainfall will result in some severely waterlogged fairways. 


Griffin Gate Golf Club


Griffin Gate Golf Club is run by Marriott Golf and offers a superb golfing experience. The course was designed by famed architect Rees Jones through the rolling meadows of central Kentucky. The course features five par-3s and par-5s, making accuracy in the short and long game necessary to card low. The course has inviting fairways, and uses well placed hazards and unique hole routing to make the game difficult. The course is a bit of a thinking man’s course but heavy hitters may be able to overpower some of the challenge. Regardless, the course has earned its reputation as one the region’s finest. 


Kearney Hill Golf Links


This Pete and P.B. Dye designed municipal course is one of the best courses in the whole state, and also provides immense value with its affordable prices. The course is a links course located on the rolling Kentucky terrain with strategic grass and sand bunkering throughout. The course is kept in great shape with fast undulating greens that will challenge any golfer. Wind is much more of a factor on this course than other area courses, and accuracy is a must with deep rough surrounding fairways. 







About The Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.


J H.  Scored 81 at  The Spur At Northwoods Columbia, South Carolina

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