The West course at Hershey Country Club is a 1930 Maurice McCarthy design that most famously hosted the 1940 USPGA Championships, won by Byron Nelson when he defeated Sam Snead 1 UP in the final match.
The perfect venue for candy lovers as Milton Hershey created a clear golf connection that's worthwhile to visit -- especially with family given the myriad of things when can do when there.
The facility did host the 1940 PGA Championship won by Byron Nelson in a tight match against Sam Snead. In recent years the club hosted the PGA Professional Championship in 2011. One of the more interesting side bar info items is that Ben Hogan was an assistant professional at Hershey to the esteemed Henry Picard before ascending to the head position which he held from 1941-1951. In actuality, Hogan was the "playing professional" and his affiliation provided a clear boost to the overall awareness of Hershey as a prime golf destination. During his association with Hershey, Hogan would win six of his nine major championships.
Amazingly, it was Milton Hershey who built four golf courses during the lean Great Depression time frame. It was Mr. Hershey's attempt to become a prime competitor to what was being carried out at Pinehurst.
The West Course one sees today is the handiwork of architect Maurice McCarthy. McCarthy had done a number of lesser-known courses and his work at Hershey represents the pinnacle of his efforts.
The layout is very straightforward and the opening sequence of holes is quite good. The opening hole is a long par-4 that swings abruptly right in the drive zone. Pity the hapless player who pushes a tee shot right because the trees on that side will simply provide no option but to simply pitch back to the fairway. The long par-5 2nd is a three shot hole save for the longest of hitters. At the 3rd and 4th you encounter two quality short par-4s. The par-3 5th is well done. You commence from an elevated tee and hit to an elevated green. At this point you may notice the aroma of chocolate in the air as the manufacturing plants for the world renown product adjoin the golf property.
The par-4 6th is another short par-4 but this time you have to pay particular attention to Spring Creek which runs parallel to the line of play from the tee.
Things get a bit more intense with the next four holes -- the 7th is another par-5 similar to what was faced at the 2nd. The long par-3 8th is quite challenging -- providing for a small target bracketed by two bunkers on each side.
The par-4 9th is under 400 yards but again the requirement for accuracy off the tee is essential. The par-4 10th ups the difficulty meter even more so -- well defended in the drive zone with flanking bunkers and a smallish green equally defended to the max.
The remaining holes are also quite good but just a notch or two below in terms of overall quality.
The main sticking point for the West Course is that it sports five par-5 holes and the sum total of what they provide is simply adequate. The long 2nd is clearly the best of the bunch. Thankfully, the closing hole -- a par-4 of 424 yards is a good conclusion for the day's play as the green is elevated and defended well with greenside bunkers on both sides.
The West is a good layout but would be even better with an updating of what's there. Possibly even reducing par from 73 to 71 and having an additional 1-2 long par-4s in the mixture. For overall fun times Hershey has been a big time attraction for families to enjoy the myriad of activities that it provides. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy what the West and the adjoining East Course created by George Fazio do offer. However, the bar for golf in this area of Pennsylvania is very high and the West Course at Hershey, while good in certain instances, is more of a supporting player rather than being in a more heralded leading role.
M. James Ward