Huntingdon Valley Country Club is one of the elder statesmen of US golf clubs, inaugurated in 1887. As with many other older clubs, either side of the pond, it started out in life as a nine-hole layout, which was later expanded to 18 holes prior to moving to its present site at Huntingdon Valley in the 1920s.
Much of the site selected for the course was ground owned by W.W. Frazier, the club’s first President, and it was decided to construct an initial 27 holes on the understanding that more land could be acquired for an additional 9 holes if the club wished to expand to two 18-hole layouts.
William S. Flynn and Howard C. Toomey designed and built what was termed a “supercourse” in the local papers and it opened for play in April of 1928. Unfortunately, the harsh economic times that followed the Great Depression led the club to allow the “C” nine to fall into disrepair as only the other 18 holes were maintained.
When it was decided to restore the third nine to coincide with the club’s centenary, more than sixty years of overgrowth had to be cleared before the fairways – now called the Centennial nine – could be brought back into play by Ron Pritchard. The current practice area and several wetland areas had to be taken into consideration, resulting in slight changes to the original routing for this circuit.
On the Toomey nine, the par threes at 3 and 5 are highly rated one shotters whilst a winding stream comes into play at many of the holes on the Flynn nine. The closing trio of long par fours on the Centennial each measure over 430 yards and they form a demanding conclusion to this 9-hole circuit.
Huntingdon Valley is likely my favorite William Flynn design played to date. Great use of downhill tee shots, followed by an uphill approach shot and awesome variety of holes. The course has both short and long par 4s, par 3s, and par 5s. It opens up with likely the easiest hole you will play all day on the 380 yard downhill par 4. Then, the course makes you hit great golf shots for the entire round if you would like to score well. The conditions are often very fast and firm and make it a really fun place to play as all types of shots will work when hitting into the greens. If you are in the Philly area and have the opportunity, do not pass up Huntingdon Valley.
Huntingdon Valley true to its name, plays around a large bowl with lots of undulations moving in one direction around the top of the property on the front nine, and then back around the bottom of the valley in the other direction for the back nine. The routing provides a very stern test with strategically routed golf holes with a variety of pairings, of lie, direction and elevation to test every shot in the bag. Combine that with the fantastic firm and fast conditions for a challenging round of golf. A great example of a course that is both difficult, but still enjoyable to play.
Huntingdon Valley is one of the many strong Flynn courses in the Philly area (accompanying other very fine but often under the national radar clubs like Lancaster CC, Rolling Green, Manufacturers, Lehigh, Philly CC, among others). The routing of the land is very interesting and great use of the valley and creek that flows through the property. With uneven lies and tough approach shots abound, it is a great test requiring all facets of your game to be on point. While a tough course to post a low number, the difficulty does not detract from the enjoyment of the round. If in the area, I would highly recommend trying to arrange a game at HVCC.
I was told if you like Nascar racing, then you’ll love Huntingdon Valley as the course is laid out in a big bowl with no shortage of holes playing along the sloping perimeter of the circuit.
Right from the first hole, you see how severe the land is in places as the ball could easily roll 50 or 60 yards sideways towards well placed bunker complexes. I’ll admit up front that the course is very difficult and it was no surprise to hear that the club attracts/produces low handicap golfers who win plenty of tournaments in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s common to hit an approach shot from a down-slope to a raised green, and countless times you’ll be hitting approach shots from hanging lies. Let’s be honest, it’s a wonderful test of golf and extremely rewarding to hit those menacing greens. Don’t expect a lot of birdies, but cherish each par.
Thousands of trees have been removed to expose lovely undulating views across this former farmland, and hundreds more should be taken out. A distinct feature of the layout is the fantastic diagonal hazards and water streams. The superintendent purposely keeps the course playing firm and fast, which puts emphasis on choosing to play from the correct tee-boxes as the ball will thunder down the fairways in all different directions, which can be to your detriment given the slope of the land. Hitting your intended line off the tee is critical at Huntingdon Valley as you could hit the perfect strike towards your target only to end up in a hazard!
The elevated tee boxes do provide many gorgeous views of some of Flynn’s iconic designs which I loved!
There are at least a dozen Flynn courses in eastern Pennsylvania and each one I play, I continue to challenge how they differ from each other and not begin to all look the same. Eastern Pennsylvania has no shortage of undulating land and Flynn is a genius at carving out intelligent routings.