I have been blessed to play the Old Course at Saucon Valley Country Club a number of times. It always leaves me with a satisfied feeling that I played a truly ‘championship’ caliber course. While architecturally speaking it does not bowl you over with options or angles, but it does place a premium on accuracy and tests your focus. Lose focus here and you will add a lot of strokes to your score.The front nine is the heavy hitter here…. Especially from the back tees. Demanding par 4s at holes 2, 5, 7, & 8 are all well over 400 yards. If you miss any of these fairways you will be scraping away just to make bogey. The opening first hole (a downhill par five) is your best chance for birdie on this side. From the member tees it actually presents a decent eagle opportunity for the longer hitter since the green is open in the front. The front finishes with a very difficult par 3 that requires a long carry (from the back tee) to a green set on the opposite side of Saucon Creek. Think of the 4th at Baltusrol with a wide creek instead of a pond and you have the 9th on the Old Course.The back nine offers far more interest from a design perspective. When Herbert Strong laid out this side he definitely had more interesting land forms and options to utilize. While the holes are overall not as long and demanding as the front nine, there is still plenty of brute strength in these holes. The 12th, 16th and 17th are similar in scale to the monster par 4s you faced on the front side. But, scoring opportunities for precise play are available at the short par fours (which I think are each great holes). Hole 10 plays downhill and is a straightforward parkland hole with flashed bunkers guarding the fairway and green. The 13th is a slight dogleg right at 336 from the tips and offers a risk reward scenario to driving close to the green. The fairway bottlenecks and the bunkers become more numerous as you get closer to this tiny target. The 18th is real treat in my opinion. First you must cross the Saucon Creek (loaded with fish by the way) and then you must hit a short iron up a steep embankment to a shallow heavy sloping green. On one occasion, I played this par 4 right after the US Senior Open when the greens were running at about 13 on the stimp and the grandstands were still up. It was amazing to experience a small sliver of the thrill that championship golfers face each week. In my humble opinion, I feel that this finisher is one of the most underrated short par 4s in golf. With the clubhouse backing the green and the fun shot making that is required, it is a joy to play this hole …. Not to mention it makes you want to cycle back around to the first tee. Overall, I will say that the Old Course at Saucon Valley is a fantastic ‘old style’ championship course. Is it my favorite at the club? No. That award goes to the Weyhill since it is (in my mind) the most enjoyable/fun/interesting experience. But that in no way diminishes my love and respect for the Old. When I feel the need to really test my game on a stern test, I head over to the Old.
Date: December 01, 2015