Venue for the PGA Championship in 1937, the course at Pittsburgh Field Club is an Alex Findlay design from 1915. It’s a rather hilly layout that’s been modified by many of the golfing greats down the years, including Donald Ross, AW Tillinghast and Robert Trent Jones Snr.
One of the most thrilling opening tee-shots anywhere in America. From an elevated perch at the back of the clubhouse, you launch your first drive up into the sky with 8 or 9 seconds of hang time before it finally touches down. The opening 7 holes at the Field Club play on a tight East-West parcel of land with a variety of par 3s, 4s and a reachable par 5 back up the steep slope that is parallel to the first hole. The 8th hole is index 1, and certainly lives up to it given a blind drive over a plateau to a pinched landing area, followed by at least 180 yards to a green surrounded by a massive grass ravine area. Hitting this green is regulation is a truly memorable and rewarding experience.
The joy of the back nine is the constant change in direction, particularly holes 8-10 that are considered the courses best stretch. The land heaves at the Field Club, and the back nine certainly plays a few shots tougher. The long downhill par 3 14th and 16th holes play at least 215 yards, and ironically, 3 of the last 5 holes are par 3s. The course finishes with an elevator ride from the short par 4 17th (which has a highly debatable big tree overhanging the right side of the green) up to the newly discovered par 3 18th tee. Rumour has it that the hole used to be a closing par 4, but numerous members struggled with heart & respiratory issues getting up 18, that the club installed a lift to get to a par 3 finisher!
I’ve no doubt that this club produces highly talented players, as the land that the course is constructed on is a significantly challenging canvas. Alex Findlay originally laid out this course, but it is Tillinghast’s hands that created the course we play today. The membership is blessed with a brilliant classic course that is all you can handle on any given day. This club and course easily holds its own against its famous neighbours, but as a primary course, it gets my vote for enjoyment.
Greens are always in great shape. Number 1 is one of the best opening holes in Pennsylvania. Fairways are so pure. The elevator makes the course very unique. I would highly recommend it.