Laurel Valley Golf Club is a private course which was designed by Dick Wilson in 1960 and then redesigned by Paul Erath in 1965. Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay made further modifications to the layout in 1988.
The 1965 PGA Championship (won by Dave Marr) and the 1975 Ryder Cup put Laurel Valley on the map. The USA team brushed GB & Ireland to one side winning comfortably 21-11. Top flight golf returned to Ligonier in 1989 in the shape of the US Senior Open which was won by Orville Moody twenty years after he won the US Open at Champions Golf Club in Texas. More recently, the 2005 Senior PGA Championship was hosted at Laurel Valley, which was won by Mike “Radar” Reid after a three-way playoff.
If you do manage to secure a game, a caddie is mandatory if you choose to walk. An experienced caddie will help you negotiate the tree-lined Laurel Valley course which is entertaining and varied with water coming in to play on numerous holes. The greens are undulating, very tricky to read and well protected by bunkers.
Laurel Valley is considered by many to be Dick Wilson’s finest design, which is positively riddled with variation and character. Probably the most memorable of the water holes is the 205-yard 14th which requires a forced carry, but perhaps the most notable is the closing hole par five where the green is ringed by water and the approach is a do-or-die affair.
I do like a few of the designs from Dick Wilson but Laurel Valley is an example of a long over-watered layout with little in terms of memorability or character. Much of the fanfare comes from its ultra-private status and that the club has hosted a few key events most notably the '65 PGA Championship and the '75 Ryder Cup Matches. Western Pennsylvania has a number of solid layouts worthy of more attention. Laurel Valley gets high marks from many because of the stellar treatment you receive when there. Unfortunately, the golf side of the equation is a distant second.
by M. James Ward
Jeff and I both fell in love with Laurel Valley, which is set in the foothills of Pittsburgh. This piece of land was a golf course waiting to happen. The immaculate course is more about discovery of great holes than about creating great holes. Laurel Valley easily makes my Top 10, but unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the course gets little notoriety among golfers, especially compared to Oakmont, its neighbor 40 or 50 miles down the road. Laurel Valley’s membership is corporate, and the club has terrific guesthouses, fantastic food, good meeting space, and awesome golf. We had lunch with Curt, who introduced us to Sandy, Arnie’s sister.
Like many great golf courses, Laurel Valley is the vision of one man – George Love – and it’s a testament to his unrelenting drive for excellence. Arnie lives 15 miles from here at Latrobe Country Club, where he grew up and his dad was the greens keeper, but Arnie plays Laurel Valley quite a bit and is a serious presence here. Jeff and I went to Latrobe Country Club and checked it out before we returned reluctantly to the airport to fly home. Larry Berle.