Waynesborough Country Club, a design originally by George Fazio, updated by Tom Fazio, scarcely gets a mention in the greater Philadelphia area as one of the top golf courses. However, it is a course one should seek out if in the area and you have played the ten-fifteen courses of higher reputation such as Pine Valley, Merion East, Aronimink, Philadelphia Cricket Club Wissahickon, Lancaster, Gulph Mills, Rolling Green, Huntingdon Valley, the three at Saucon Valley,….well, you get the picture.
This is a very fine golf course by a former professional player who turned architect. George Fazio, born in Norristown, PA, played in seven Masters tournaments, with a high finish of 14th in 1952. He twice won on the PGA tour, the 1946 Canadian Open and the 1947 Bing Crosby pro-am (a tie with Ed Furgol). He finished third in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion East won by Ben Hogan. In the 1940’s he was the head pro at Hillcrest, site of an early PGA. George Fazio became interested in golf architecture when he was asked to renovate a municipal course, Cobbs Creek. I consider his best design to be Butler National. This is followed by the Hills course at Jupiter Hills, the National Golf Club of Canada, and the Champions course at PGA National. He built across the USA including Edgewater Tahoe in Nevada and Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii. Other notable courses that he built in Pennsylvania include Chester Valley, Downingtown, Hershey Country Club East and Moselem Springs.
Tom Fazio, born in Lansdale, PA, and George Fazio’s nephew, got his introduction to golf course design by working with him. Tom Fazio came back to renovate Waynesborough. Interestingly, Tom Fazio has only one solo design credit in Pennsylvania.
Waynesborough was considered good enough to twice host a PGA tour event, the Pennsylvania Classic in 2000 and 2002. It certainly helped that the title sponsor was SEI and the CEO of SEI was a member at Waynesborough and lived on an estate bordering the course. The event did not attract many of the top professionals due to the timing on the calendar and perhaps due to the quality of the golf courses that conducted the event (although Laurel Valley is very good).
The course is described on the club’s website as being on “rolling hills” and made for the everyday player, although capable of hosting professional tournaments. It is described as short, but requiring a deft touch around the greens. I consider this mainly to be true, although Waynesborough seems to be flat compared to the other more highly ranked courses in the area. The exception to the mostly flat terrain is the higher ground for the ninth and eighteenth greens and the teeing areas of ten, three and six. The highest point of the course seems to be the eighteenth green. To compensate for the flatter land, Mr. Fazio raised several of the greens, although not as many as perhaps he should have.
The nice part to the flatter ground is the course is a very easy and pleasant walk.
The routing is a bit predictable, with nine holes to one side and nine holes on the other side with both nines coming back to the clubhouse. The front nine is the less interesting as six of the holes are routed as “back and forth” with two of the par 3’s and a single par 4 going diagonal to them. Four of the holes are doglegs with the eighth hole offering the most difficult tee shot. The green on the ninth is easily the best on the outward nine.
The back nine moves around much more with four additional doglegs. The land is a bit more rolling and while the par 3’s on the front nine are good, the par 3’s on the back nine are more compelling.
The Gold tees play to a yardage of 7063 yards, par 71 rated 74.7/140. The Black tees are 6640 yards rated 72.5/138. The Blue tees are 6370 yards rated 71.2/135. There are two sets of lesser tees. The last time I played it the Blue tees were approximately 6425 yards. I will reference the Gold and Blue tees.
1. Par 4 – 369/352. This is a nice starting hole, falling gently downhill before flattening. This dogleg left has bunkers placed on the corner of the turn and a bunker complex on the right front of the green. The small green slopes back to front tilting more to the right but with a left front that is lower. There is a mound front center short of the green. Longer hitters can cut the dogleg and get very close to the front of the green. It is a nice entry to the course.
2. Par 4 – 410/383. A left bunker sits about 225 yards from the Gold tees so it is more than possible for players to carry it. If you land in it these bunkers are slightly raised and the priority is to get out. The fairway tilts to the right with the right side offering a level lie, but too far right and part of the green is blocked. The ground tilts considerably to the right about 40 yards short of the long green. There are flanking bunkers at the green which is multi-tiered and tilted left to right at the backside.
3. Par 4 – 437/415. This is one of the better visual holes on the front nine as the tee is elevated. This dogleg right has two long bunkers on the corner. Bigger hitters are unlikely to try to carry them as the second one is 280 yards out. However, if they play too safely they can run through the left side of the fairway. Shorter hitters should simply favor the left side although there is a single small bunker placed opposite the right side bunkers. The green complex is slightly uphill and has a bunker left and one on the right to this raised green with an overall tilt to the right. I like this hole due to the placement of the bunkers and trees as a defense down the left side.
4. Par 4 – 188/156. There is a pond here fronting the green but it is well short of it. There is a single bunker front left as the right front one has been removed which I consider a mistake. There is good contouring to this green, which is superior to the first three holes.
5. Par 4 – 420/390. This is rated the third most difficult hole on the front nine. This dogleg left has another tilted fairway, this time kicking to the left. The two fairway bunkers are on the inner corner and longer hitters should not take them on as this is perhaps the widest fairway on the course. The green plays slightly uphill with flanking bunkers. The highlight of the hole is the three-tiered green. If one misses the green, it requires a deft touch to stay on the proper tier.
6. Par 3 – 220/194. Playing from an elevated tee, one can get slightly distracted from the noise from the tennis courts and swimming pool. This is a hole that demands one’s attention as any miss left with end up in one of the two deep bunkers from which recovery is difficult given the slope of the green. If one is to miss, the miss should be short or right. Behind the green there is a sizeable fall-off.
7. Par 5 – 547/522. This hole does not offer much interest for me. Longer hitters should have a reasonable chance of reaching it in two shots as it plays downhill. There are two bunkers right of the fairway and scattered trees while the left side has heavy trees and out-of-bounds. However, the fairway offers adequate width for the tee shot. As one nears the green there is a bunker left about 70 yards short of the green, followed by one on the front and right corner and one left side. The front/right bunker is the real danger, as one has to clear it.
8. Par 4 – 373/345. This short dogleg left has heavy trees down the left side as well as out-of-bounds with a few scattered trees down the right. There is a bunker right only in reach off the tee for the longest of players. The green is shallower than others and has bunkers on the sides. The only really interesting part to the hole is the “infinity” look of the green as there is very little behind it to provide definition.
9. Par 4 – 447/415. This is rated the most difficult hole on the front nine. I think it is easily the best. This hole begins a stretch of the three most difficult consecutive holes on the course. It plays uphill with fairway bunkers on either side, the left side about 25 yards farther up. Longer hitters should play down the right side even if it brings the two deep bunkers fronting the green into play. The green is elevated with a false front, sitting on a shelf with higher ground to the left as well. Recovery from the left side is very difficult as the green is sloped severely to the right and is multi-tiered. There is a high probability of three putts on this green.
10. Par 4 – 457/404. This is rated the most difficult hole on the back nine. Playing from an elevated tee there is a collection of bunkers down the right about 260-280 yards from the Gold tee. Scattered trees go down the left side. There is a pond that begins about 60 yards from the green on the left side that comes into play for those who are too far back off the tee or hit it left into the woods and are trying to lay up. The good news is that the pond ends about 20 yards short of the green so it should merely be “eye candy.” The green is angled a bit right to left with a left side bunker eating into it creating a difficult back left pin location. The green has a couple of swales, more pronounced on the left side.
11. Par 4 – 420/391. This hole is rated the second most difficult on the back nine but of these three holes, it seems to play the most difficult for me. For me this is the best hole on the golf course and not due to its difficulty. There was once a pond fronting the tee that has been removed and this hole used to play fairly straight. It has been rerouted to being a dogleg left with two bunkers on the inner corner and one further up on the right side. Trees are also heavy down the left side near the second of the bunkers. There is a wetland area off to the left about 60 yards short of the green that I often find. The green is elevated with two bunkers on the right/front. Thankfully, this green is one of the easier ones on the par 4’s.
12. Par 4 – 341/325. After the difficulty of the previous three holes, this dogleg right presents an opportunity to catch one’s breath. There are scattered trees down both sides with the three bunkers all on the right side. This hole previously had a single large bunker complex on the right side which I preferred. The green is thin at the front due to two bunkers on the left placed inside the back left of the green. These two bunkers replaced a single large bunker which I also thought was better. In essence, I think the recent renovations hurt the golf hole although it retains a nicely contoured green.
13. Par 4 – 435/365. This par 4 ends six consecutive par 4’s and is another difficult hole from the Gold tees, but very forgiving from the Blue tees. This hole previously played as a sharper dogleg left but the tees were moved more to the right creating a gentler draw to the hole. The difficulty is going left with the tee shot where two deep/raised bunkers and thick trees await. The best view of the green is to the right side of the fairway although another bunker sits there only in play for the longest of hitters. A stream cuts diagonally in front of the green with a back right bunker. There used to be a small, front bunker but this was eliminated when they extended the front of the green to create pin positions closer to the small stream. I preferred the hole when it had the small bunker in front.
14. Par 3 – 175/135. This is the most picturesque hole on the course as a pond goes from the forward tees to the front of the green. The green is somewhat flat with a back right higher plateau. There is nice contouring in the green surrounds. From the Gold tees the green appears small but from the Blue tees there is adequate room. It is a very pretty hole in the fall due to the surrounding trees.
15. Par 5 – 554/498. The second par 5 comes late in the round. There are trees that jut out on the left side after a bunker making a play down the left to shorten the hole perhaps the wrong decision. Another bunker is on the right about 285 yards from the Gold tee. After the initial turn, the hole straightens with the final fairway bunker about 100 yards from the green on the right side where some additional trees pinch in. The hole rises gently to the green which has front flanking bunkers. The green has several horizontal ripples running through it. The green is angled right to left a bit. This hole used to have a single bunker on the front left and more of an angled green. I prefer the previous version to the current green complex.
16. Par 4 – 436/387. This is a straight hole that ends in a green that is angled right to left. Two bunkers go down the right side of the fairway along with scattered trees on both sides, although thicker on the left. This is one of the flatter parts of the golf course and for me it is not a memorable hole despite the two tiered green. There is a single bunker on the front left.
17. Par 3 – 254//208/166. This is another flat hole which was lengthened by nearly 50 yards to account for modern technology. There is a single bunker on the right side and two on the left to a green that is slightly raised. It is a difficult hole due to length but lacks any visual appeal.
18. Par 5 – 580/527. This is one of the longer par 5’s in the greater Philadelphia area. The most interesting feature of the hole is the green being built on the higher ground on the side of a hill. To get to the green, one has to navigate flanking bunkers off the tee, scattered trees the length of the hole, a bunker on the right about 100 yards short of the green, and then finally two bunkers at the front and another on the left side. Until one reaches the hill, the hole is essentially flat and lacks visual appeal. The green is very tilted back to front and left to right. One has a good chance at recovery unless they go over the green.
I like Waynesborough and appreciate many of the changes they have made to the course with the exception of some bunkering. The members are very proud of their course and they should be given the strength and variety of the par 3’s as well as the stretch of holes from nine to eleven. For the better players, the par 5’s are somewhat weak, although the eighteenth has a difficult green.
For the area, it is one of the few courses that have kept a fair number of their trees although certainly tree removal has occurred.
If one is into the architecture of a golf course, there is nothing here that is unique. While greens committees are often reluctant to change an original design of a good designer, one wonders if the more interesting green complexes with more raised greens and run-offs could have been utilized. It would be better to have center-line or even cross bunkers to create more visual appeal, particularly where the course lacks land movement. The green surfaces themselves are good although a few greens could have a bit more interior contouring. For the most part there is a lack of contouring in the green surrounds. However, the objective of the course has been met which was to create a golf course enjoyable for players of all levels.
Date: December 22, 2020