The cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are among the most populated of America’s golf metropolises, but those driving the Pennsylvania expanse between them should be sure to stop off at the many quality courses dotting the way. One such course is The Country Club of York, which follows a Donald Ross design along a property offering views for miles to the surrounding countryside.
Aside from the hilly terrain offering defense (a number of miniature valleys break up sections of fairway), nearly 60 deep-faced bunkers dot the fairways and green-sides. Much of the thanks for the continued effectiveness of these hazards rests in the lap of Andrew Green, who applied the same appreciative hand in his restorative work as he did at Ross’s acclaimed Inverness, Oak Hill, and others.
The club, if not the course, celebrated its 100th anniversary during 1999. The party included hosting the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship: Hunter Mahan outdid Camilo Villegas in that battle between two future PGA Tour winners.
The issue for York is that the Keystone State is the home for a solid depth of private clubs scattered about the Commonwealth.
For starters, York occupies a quality piece of land and there's sufficient movement of the terrain to keep players on their toes throughout the round.
The hole differentiation is good and the routing it smartly done by Donald Ross so no surprise on that front. Making ongoing adjustments throughout the round is always a central item of concern for all players.
The main strength rests on the varying shapes, sizes and configurations of the putting surfaces. York is not appreciably lengthy -- just above 6,700 yards yet the layout is helped by the terrain which can rear its head whenever an uphill shot is faced.
The two par-3 holes on the outward half are quite different but together provide a clear strength in how they test players. The long 3rd is tough as nails and its finicky nature is bolstered by a green that can bedevil even the most proficient of putter. The 6th is also one that can cause serious anguish with the slightest of misses to the left can take one's ball to a permanent watery grave. Be especially wary if confronted with a front left pin position.
The par-4 11th is one of several quality two-shot holes. In this case you head downhill to a tapered fairway before ascending to a green. There not a single bunker to contend with on the approach but gauging the proper club and keeping the ball in front of the pin pays dividends.
One of the deficiencies comes with the consecutive par-5's at the 14th and 15th holes. Each goes downhill and moves to the left. For stronger players the wherewithal to overpower such holes is too simplistic with not enough pushback on the design side.
Matters change in a tour de force manner with the sensational par-416th. The rigors of the hole begin with the terrain -- you are heading uphill and the intensity meter rises considerably with the approach. The green is devilish and possesses two distinct sections. The margin for error is simply very, very s-m-a-l-l !
The penultimate hole is another quality par-3. The hole plays uphill and the green is narrower towards the front and then widening at the back. Bunkers protect the green on both sides and should one's ball find their confines you;'ll need to show Houdini skills to escape without scorecard pain.
Sadly, the 18th. It's a decent closer and without question the tilt of the fairway to the left does help. The green has enough internal riddles to decipher.
Overall, York is a solid layout. A bit more length and tapering of the fairways would help check strong low handicap players from attacking from the tee with little to fear on a number of the holes.
The Ross greens hold up quite well and one's success is utterly dependent on the quality of your approaches. Kudos to the club in hiring Andrew Green to really add a bit of needed updating.