Category: Pennsylvania


May 15, 2013

Central Pennsylvania: Bargain golf in the Keystone State

Posted at 2:52 PM by Mike Walker

Central_pa_600

The 16th hole at Hershey East, the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, and Gettysburg re-enactors.

An old political joke about Central Pennsylvania goes, "What's in between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh? Alabama." Yes, the middle of the state is a wide expanse of farmland and wilderness between the state's two major cities, but there's plenty to see amid the cows and countryside: the historic Gettysburg battlefield, the old-time ways of the Amish, and the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoons in State College. And for golfers, Central Pennsylvania is home to some first-class golf at reasonable prices, no joke.

The Golf:

Hershey Country Club, Hershey Pa.

West Course: 6,860 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $145

East Course: 7,061 yards, par 71; Greens fees: $130

The West Course is an American parkland classic, site of the 1940 PGA Championship. It was also where Ben Hogan plied his trade as a teaching pro from 1941-1951. You won't find many holes with more local flavor than the par-3 fifth--you tee off in front of the smokestacks of the chocolate factory to a green in the front yard of Milton Hershey's estate, positioned so the old man could keep an eye on his business. The George Fazio-designed East Course was designed to host Tour stops and it will test even accomplished players with demanding tee shots and elevated greens.

Dauphin Highland Golf Course, Harrisburg, Pa.

7,121 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $45-$59

Locals know that Dauphin Highlands, a varied, well-maintained track near a bend in the Susquehanna River, is one of the best bargains you'll find anywhere. This course in the state capital is full of challenging and memorable holes like the par-4 seventh, where a well-placed drive will leave you a short-iron over a fishing pond into a shallow green.

Penn National Golf Club, Fayetteville, Pa.

The Founders Course 6,972 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $65-$79

The Iron Forge Course 7,009 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $65-79

Just a short drive from the Gettysburg National Historical Park, Penn National features two high-quality tracks. The Founders Course is a traditional parkland course, notable for its collection of par 5s (including the 615-yard eighth) and mountain views. The newer Iron Forge Course has a distinctive tree-less look and a cool risk-reward option on 18.

Where to Stay:

The Hershey Hotel has the charms of a grand, old-style hotel with full modern amenities, thanks to a recent renovation. Penn State fans will want to book at room at the Atherton Hotel  right in the midst of State College's shops and restaurants. Central Pennsylvania is known for charming inns and bed-and-breakfasts -- you can find a complete list at PaInns.com

What to Do:

History still lives and breathes in the fields of the Gettysburg National Military Park; kids will love the roller coasters and water rides at Hersheypark; one of the best way to tour Amish Country is by bicycle and the Lancaster Bike Club has tours for beginners and expert riders; and finally everyone know that State College jumps on Penn State home football game in the fall, but the Northeast's best college town also hosts the four-day Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in July.

Photo: The 16th hole of the West Course at Hershey Country Club (Fred Vuich); Pennsylvania State Capital (Courtesy of State of Pennsylania_, Gettysburg (Getty Images).

May 28, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Hazelton, Pa.; Pawleys Island, S.C.; Fort Myers, Fla.

Posted at 9:55 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at [email protected].

Eaglerock Dear Joe,
We are looking for some excellent golf courses near Hazelton, Pa. We are two couples who have handicaps between 8 and 10 and we like very nice courses. We saw Eagle Rock Resort and we were wondering if that is good and if there are courses nearby that would meet our criteria. We belong to private golf clubs and could possibly get on through reciprocity. We would be traveling by car from New York. Please let us know your thoughts.
Aimee Bieber
Via email

Aptly named Eagle Rock ($45-$75; 570-384-6616, eaglerockresort.com) is your best base of operations as it’s very close to the heart of Hazelton, in the Blue Mountains, roughly 50 miles northwest of Allentown. This 11-year-old Arnold Palmer co-design features boulder work throughout, shoring up elevated greens and serving as unyielding, if handsome hazards. Your eagles might fly at round’s end, where the par-4 17th is just 324 yards from the tips and the par-5 18th is 468 yards. There’s another shortish, but challenging nine-holer on the property as well.

It’s only about 40 miles east to the Poconos, where a treasure trove of courses awaits. Jack Frost National ($40-$70; 570-443-2414, jackfrostnational.com) is even closer, a 25-mile drive to a ski/golf facility in Blakeslee, not far from the Pocono International Raceway. At 7,256 yards, this Terry Lagree/Mark Brown design features all of the challenge and panoramas you’d expect from mountain golf, but embraces strategy and fairness in equal measures.

Finally, try your private club connections at Huntsville Golf Club (golf-huntsville.com) in Lehman, a few minutes northwest of Wilkes-Barre. This brawny, beautiful Rees Jones design is draped seamlessly atop rolling terrain and overflows with solid, striking holes.

Hey, Joe,
I’m sure you get hundreds of these requests for recommendations a day, so I’d be amazed if I got a response. My wife and I are interested in taking a week-long trip to “somewhere” in early June for some golf, relaxation and to celebrate our anniversary. We don’t mind a bit of a drive from down here in south Georgia. We both want to play quality courses but value a relaxing atmosphere above all else. This trip is not a golf death march, just a few rounds spread over the week. We really don’t want to spend more than $300-$350 a day on golf and lodging. Somewhere with a beach and decent, nearby food would be nice, too. Any recommendations?
Michael Misinco
Byromville, Ga.

Prepare to be amazed! The best all-around value for your requirements is Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (888-766-4633, litchfieldbeach.com) in Pawleys Island, S.C., about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Litchfield is right on the beach, with a variety of accommodations, plus on-site golf—with a half-dozen other fine tracks within a mile. In early June, you can reserve a one-bedroom oceanfront suite at Litchfield’s Bridgewater and combine with golf for just what you’re looking to spend. Sure, it’s a 330-mile drive, but what you get is a gorgeous beach, a buffet of terrific, scenic courses, superb nearby dining and plenty of entertaining attractions. You’re also sufficiently removed from the maddening downtown Myrtle Beach crowds.

Among the couples-friendly courses within a mile or two are Litchfield C.C., Tradition Club and Willbrook Plantation, and of course, don’t miss Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, which zigzags through live oaks and edges the Waccamaw River. I can recommend Frank’s for special occasion Lowcountry fare that’s within a half-mile of your hotel. Away from the beach and golf course, check out Brookgreen Gardens, one of the South’s most memorable collections of flora and fauna, and shop locally for two of the state’s most famous exports, rope hammocks and sweetgrass baskets.

If that drive sounds too daunting, try Palmetto Dunes Resort (palmettodunes.com) on Hilton Head Island, approximately 200 miles from your home. A three-night, three-round golf package, in a 2-bedroom villa, starts at $178 per person, per night, which is pretty close to your $350 daily limit.

Hi Joe,
Me and my buddies are going to Ft. Myers and are looking to play three or four courses in three days. I’ve heard good things about Old Corkscrew and don’t mind the rate but was wondering if you had some other reasonable options. Thanks for the help.
Derek Rochester
Via email

Old Corkscrew (239-949-4700, oldcorkscrew.com) is indeed your starting point. Situated 25 miles south of Ft. Myers, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Corkscrew is a blur of sand, water, wetlands and pines, in an exciting, but exhausting package if you’re spraying it. Stay away from the 7,393-yard tips, (76.1/142) and you’ll enjoy. It’s $100 to play through May 31, $85 beginning June 1—and only $50 starting at 1:40 p.m.

Bargains in the region begin with nearby Stoneybrook ($32-$47 through May 31; 239-948-3933, stoneybrookgolffm.com), a wide but watery 7,314-yard test; Eastwood Golf Course ($25-$30 through May 31; 239-321-7487, cityftmyers.com/eastwood), a Devlin-Von Hagge creation that demands precision both from the tee and on approaches, thanks to doglegs, lakes and bunkers at every turn; and Riverwood ($50 in May and June; 941-769-6661, riverwoodgc.com), a Gene Bates design that traverses salt marshes, which is definitely worth the hour-long journey north to Port Charlotte.

(Photo: Courtesy of Eagle Rock Resort)

August 13, 2009

Recession-Busters: Save in September

Posted at 7:06 PM by Ryan Reiterman

Save $160
Mount Washington Resort
Bretton Woods, N.H.

This historic resort's Golf Package is the perfect way to enjoy the classic 1915 Donald Ross design. Included is lodging; one round with cart per person, per day; breakfast; a nightly four-course dinner; and bonus golf on the 9-hole Mount Pleasant course. Rates start at $269 per person, per night, based on double occupancy and a two-night minimum stay.
800-314-1752, mountwashingtonresort.comMtwashington

Save $190
Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa
Galena, Ill.

Northwest of Chicago, this is the state's largest golf resort, with 63 holes. The World-Class Golf Package offers lodging, three rounds with cart, special rates on both the 9-hole East course and additional rounds, and breakfast in the Woodlands Restaurant. Rates start at $399 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Add a $30 surcharge to play the General Course.
800-892-2269, eagleridgeresortonline.com

Save $140
Omni Bedford Springs Resort
Bedford, Pa.

If you're into serious history, both on-course and off, check into this 200-year-old property in south-central Pennsylvania, where 10 U.S. presidents have stayed. The Unlimited Golf Package offers lodging, unlimited rounds of golf and cart, practice facility use and a $50 credit to be used in the pro shop. Rates begin at $294 per person, per night, double occupancy.
814-623-8100, bedfordspringsresort.com

Save $150
Grand Geneva Resort
Lake Geneva, Wis.

The Grand Golf Package features lodging, a $20 merchandise credit in the golf shop and two rounds of golf per person on the aptly named Brute course and on the Highlands, a Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus design later tweaked by Bob Cupp. Rates start at $299 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. 800-558-3417, grandgeneva.com

(Photo Credit: Mount Washington Resort)

November 05, 2008

Bedford Springs Old Course: A grand revival in Pennsylvania

Posted at 12:15 PM by Golf.com

May21_volcano_600x399 I parred the Volcano. I have very little to brag about from my trip around the Old Course at Pennsylvania's Bedford Springs Resort, but at least I have that. After pulling a  hybrid well left of the green, I hit a beautiful chip and, for once, didn't choke the 5-foot par putt.

I'd been curious to see the Old Course since Sports Illustrated's Pittsburgh natives, writer Gary Van Sickle and photographer Fred Vuich, told the tale of the resort's grand history and revival. My wife and I booked a long weekend with our 19-month-old son and visited last weekend.

The Volcano, shown at right, is a Donald Ross-designed, 217-yard par 3 with an elevated green surrounded by bunkers. It's a seriously intimidating tee shot that I yanked far enough left to avoid the most punishing trap and set up the par-saving chip. Of the many challenges the course presents, this was the only one I was able to meet. But it sure was fun trying. My favorite hole was No. 6, known as Ross's Cathedral, a tree-lined, 361-yard par 4 with an elevated tee and green. For me, the greens were the most challenging aspect of the course. They were slick with tricky breaks, and I had as many 3-putts as 2-putts.

The resort and spa facilities are also very impressive, especially the grand old indoor pool, which is spring-fed and constantly 82 degrees. Located in south-central Pennsylvania, Bedford Springs is just a 90-minute drive from Pittsburgh, two hours from Washington and Baltimore, and three hours from Philadelphia and Cleveland. The drive from New York is longer, four and a half hours (five-plus if you have an infant in the car), but well worth the trip.

For a more thorough description, see Gary's story, and check out the official site for hotel information and a hole-by-hole description of the course. For more resort options, see our guide to the game's greatest destinations.

Do you have a Bedford Springs story or a favorite historic golf resort you'd like to tell us about? Leave a comment below

Photo: Fred Vuich/SI

October 16, 2008

Ask Travelin' Joe: Philadelphia, Myrtle Beach and Phoenix

Posted at 12:13 PM by Ryan Reiterman

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at [email protected].

Dear Joe,
My dad and I are headed to Philadelphia in late October for a football game. We're driving, so it's easy to lug the sticks. Weather permitting, we're itching to play. What courses do you recommend?

Ollie Patrick
Fair Lawn, N.J.

It's worth the splurge to play the Golf Course at Glen Mills (610-558-2142, glenmillsgolf.com; $65-$95). Proceeds at this feel-good Bobby Weed design go to the Glen Mills Schools, the oldest existing residential facility for troubled youths in the U.S.  There's nothing wayward about this old school, 6,636-yard, par 71 layout, which seamlessly blends open and forested holes, artfully crafted bunkering and memorable elevation changes.

A cheaper, yet still worthy alternative nearby is Downingtown Country Club (610-269-2000, golfdowningtown.com; $33-$79), a handsome, rolling, 40-year-old George Fazio track that sports a set of testing par-3s.

Hi Joe,
We're traveling with another couple to Myrtle Beach in November. My girlfriend and I would like to play once or twice with the guys, but they're low-handicap golfers and we just play for fun. Can you suggest any scenic courses that would work for all of us?

Abby Kay
Auburn, N.Y.

Like its big brother, King's North, Myrtle Beach National's South Creek course (843-448-2308, mbn.com; $59) darts through wetlands and forests, but it's much shorter and softer around the edges. 

Wachesaw East  (843-357-5252, wachesaweast.com; $71) in Murrells Inlet held four LPGA events from 1997-2000. Even with hazards galore, this well-wooded former rice plantation is fair and fun for lads and lasses of every ability.

Dear Joe,
I'm headed to Phoenix this fall. What's the best bargain you've got for me?

Eric Eglin
Miami, Fla.

Until Phoenix's primo muni, Papago Park, reopens in December, your best bet for bargains is to head back to school-and enroll at the ASU Karsten Course (480-921-8070, asukarsten.com; $60-$70) in Tempe. Located practically on the campus of Arizona State University, this is the course where Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey honed their skills. The heavily mounded, 7,057-yard, par-72 layout is schizophrenically scenic -- to the west is strong, with views of mountains and Sun Devil Stadium, to the east, uh, not so good -- with roads and power grids. In any direction, it's a rugged test, especially the ninth and 18th, a pair of side-by-side nasty, watery par-4s.   

Ask Travelin' Joe



 

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