Although Donald Ross is not as ubiquitous in New Jersey as he is in many American states, he certainly had connections in the Philadelphia area, which kept him involved at clubs across the river. One such club was Riverton Country Club, where Ross laid out the second iteration of the club’s course during 1917, keeping just one hole from the original (the current No. 14).
To celebrate that course’s 100th anniversary, Ron Prichard and Tyler Rae were brought on to conduct a restoration based on Ross’s original drawings. The results included a restoration of the master’s classic cross bunkering, noted here at holes such as Nos. 2 and 9. One of the most impressive hazards on the course was another bunker that received love from Prichard and Rae: The Alps-esque pit that sits ahead of the No. 5 green.
This is an out-and-back 18, with the golfers heading to the far end of the property before returning to the near side (the two plots are connected by a narrow neck between a later housing development). The course continues to play at a similar yardage as it did during Ross’s day, coming in at under 6,600 yards from the back tees.
Credit the club in bringing on board the talents of Ron Prichard to update a quality Donald Ross layout.
Riverton is not in the same league with other Ross Jersey courses such as Plainfield, Echo Lake, Crestmont. Nonetheless, the club fits the profile of a quality members course and it help considerably to have topography that adds to the visual elements and shotmaking challenges.
One of the more engaging dimensions is the delightful elevated greens found at such holes as the 1st and 3rd. Its imperative players are ready to play at the start of the round.
The par-3 6th is also done well with a green that invites a quick three-putt for those who fail to pay attention in landing one's approach.
The main weakness on the outward side rests with two par-5s -- at the 7th and 9th -- which are sufficient for what's required but hardly inspirational.
The short par-3 11th is fun to play -- a pond protects fiercely the right side of the green.
The other two par-3s on the back nine -- the 14th and 16th -- are wonderfully differentiates and the latter is quite vexing with a green that has plenty of internal movements to decipher.
The weak spot at Riverton comes with the final two holes. The penultimate is a fairly pedestrian par-5 and the closing hole is adequate but not especially meaningful to provide a final impression when the round concludes.
Part of the issue with Riverton is how modern technology has allowed players to hit the ball considerable distances. That can mean a repetitive usage of the same clubs into the greens. The main strength of the course rests with the greens. They do put a premium on approach play for those seeking to score low.
If there was at least 1-2 longer par-4 holes and a bit more design wise on the par-5s the overall assessment of Riverton would have gone to four golf balls. Those who happen to be in the neighborhood and can secure an opportunity to play should certainly do so.
M. James Ward