Five Reasons Philadelphia is just THAT awesome!

best golf courses in philadelphia

As many of you know the US Open is happening right now at Merion Golf Course in Ardmore, PA. After a few of Mother Nature’s unfortunate storms, the players finish round one and continue on with the second round today.

Do you enjoy the game of golf? No need to travel down south or to the west coast if you’d like to get an amazing experience on the greens. There are 5 courses right in the area (all less than 1 1/2 hours away from Philadelphia) that have been listed on Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” list for 2013-2014. In fact, just less than 30 miles away from Philly is the #1 ranked Pine Valley Golf Course.

Here are 5 of those top 100 courses and 5 more reasons why Philadelphia is just that awesome!

Pine Valley Golf Course

Pine Valley, N.J. / George Crump & H.S. Colt (1918)
7,057 yards, Par 70 | Points: 71.9201

A genuine original, with its unique character forged from the sandy pine barrens of southwest New Jersey. Founder George Crump had help with the routing from British architect H.S. Colt and during construction notable designers such as A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr. and Walter Travis stopped by to make suggestions. Subsequent generations have continued to marvel at Pine Valley’s design. Robert Trent Jones felt it had more classic holes than any other and regarded it as the first course that truly tested every club in the bag. What we wrote in 1999 remains true today: Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design — penal, heroic and strategic — throughout the course, often on a single hole.

Merion Golf Course

Ardmore, Pa. / Hugh Wilson (1912)
6,886 yards, Par 70 | Points: 68.2018

Merion East has long been considered the best course on the tightest acreage in America, but back in 1999 we showed it little respect, writing: “It’s unlikely this four-time host will ever entertain another U.S. Open — the club simply lacks the space to accommodate a modern major.” How foolish we were. The U.S. Open returns to Merion in 2013. Of course, they’ll have to close off some streets that run beside the course and rent neighbors’ front yards to accommodate skyboxes and corporate tents. But what a treat it will be to see today’s generation tackle a little old course with knee-deep rough, wicker-basket flags and bunkers that stare back at golfers.

Aronimink Golf Course

Newtown Square, Pa. / Donald Ross (1928)
7,190 yards, Par 70 | Points: 61.2450

Aronimink is an object lesson in architectural appreciation. After Donald Ross completed his design in 1928, he proclaimed, “I intended to make this my masterpiece.” That didn’t keep club members from bringing in William Gordon in the 1950s to eliminate out-of-play fairway bunkers and move other bunkers closer to greens. The course was later revamped by Dick Wilson, George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones. It took seven years for Ron Prichard, a designer specializing in course restoration, to rebuild the course to something close to the original Ross design.

Somerset Hills Golf Course

Bernardsville, N.J. / A.W. Tillinghast (1918)
6,659 yards, Par 71 | Points: 60.9275

Somerset Hills is another marvelous A.W. Tillinghast design, one of the few that has remained virtually unchanged since it opened in 1918. That may make it the most authentic Tillinghast course on the 100 Greatest. It’s a charming, laid-back design that works through seemingly undisturbed rolling terrain, past rock outcroppings and around small-but-distinctive water hazards to some outrageous green contours guarded by knobby mounds dubbed dolomites. It also has the only Tillinghast version of a Redan par 3.

Baltusrol Golf Course

Springfield, N.J. / A.W. Tillinghast (1922)
7,002 yards, Par 72 | Points: 62.1281

It’s believed that when A.W. Tillinghast began constructing the Upper and Lower Courses at Baltusrol in 1919 (replacing Baltusrol’s existing 18 holes), it was the first contiguous 36 holes built at the same time in America. Because of the Lower’s tremendous major championship record, most consider the shorter Upper to be a secondary course at the club. But between the two, it was the Upper, not the Lower, that hosted the first U.S. Open (and third in the club’s history) in 1936, won by Tony Manero. The Lower didn’t get its first Open until 1954, won by Ed Furgol.

Check out the full list of Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” list.

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