Saucon Valley Country Club
by Peter McKnight

Saucon Valley Country Club is perhaps one of the finest country clubs in the United States. In addition to three championship courses, the club has a number of har-tru tennis courts, an olympic-sized swimming pool (which is located behind the clubhouse and between the 9th and 10th holes on the Old Course), an indoor practice facility at the squash court facility and two indoor tennis courts by the Shoudy barn. It was Eugene Grace’s vision (former president of Bethlehem Steel) to create such an establishment in the Lehigh Valley.

In October 1920, the Lehigh County Court gave Grace and 16 other business leaders the authority to transform 205 acres of farmland near the Saucon Creek into ‘golf links and other facilities for athletic sports.’ Grace chose Herbert Strong to design the first course in SVCC’s arsenal of courses. The course opened for play in 1922 and largely remains intact, although Perry Maxwell, William Gordon and Eugene Grace have all made slight revisions to the course since it opened for play.

In 1953, SVCC, through the leadership of Grace, decided to build another 18-hole course. The design team of William and David Gordon was hired to build what is now known as the Grace Course. This course was built in stages ”the first nine holes (1-6, 16-18 on the current routing) were built in 1953, while the rest of the course (7-15) was finished in 1957. The course officially opened in 1958. During the construction of the Grace Course, the Gordon’s also built the Short course, a 6-hole course for the club’s juniors and beginners. This course is located at the club’s Saucon Valley Road entrance.

In 1968, Grace and Bethlehem Steel finished the construction on the Weyhill Club course, which was designed by William and David Gordon. The property used to be a large family farm with very few country estates surrounding it. Today, it is an exclusive neighborhood with sizeable estates. Until recently, the facility was owned by Bethlehem Steel and managed by SVCC. Golf rates were different from the rest of SVCC. The Weyhill Club course was also the only course at SVCC without names for the holes. Of all 3 courses, it experiences the least amount of play throughout the course of a playing year. It possesses, however, the most dramatic land available along the Saucon Creek. For years, the executive chef Jack made the best hamburgers in the nation.

I caddied at SVCC for seven years between 1985 and 1992. I will always consider SVCC my home course since a great deal of my formative years were spent there in some capacity or other. I have personally have seen every inch of each of the three golf courses either by caddying or by my own play. Caddies are able to play one of the three courses (usually the Grace or Weyhill course) on Mondays between 0900 and 1300. If you could not play 27 holes in 4 hours, you were considered slow. In fact, the older caddies would specifically hit into you if they felt you were playing slow. And, of course, we walked!

The first head professional was Robert D. Thompson, who was hired in 1922. His assistant was Ted Polden, an excellent club maker, who in turn became the head professional from 1927 until 1935. In August of that year, the legendary Ralph Hutchison became the third head golf professional at SVCC. Most recently, the head golf professional was Jerry Pittman, the current head golf professional at world-renowned Seminole Golf Club. However, the most revered teacher at SVCC is Morry Holland, who has assisted so many players at SVCC become better players. I can still vividly see him drinking a few cold ones after another day of major swing surgery.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY AT SAUCON VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB

OLD COURSE

1951 US AMATEUR

Billy Maxwell d Joseph Gagliardi 4 and 3

1983 US JUNION AMATEUR

Tim Straub d John Mahon 1 hole

1987 US SENIOR AMATEUR

John Richardson (medalist) d James Kite 5 and 4

1992 US SENIOR OPEN

Larry Laoretti 275

2000 US SENIOR OPEN

Hale Irwin 267

GRACE COURSE

1987 PENNSYLVANIA OPEN

Brian Kelly 141 (including course record of 67)

WEYHILL COURSE

None.

The following descriptions of the course include the names of each of the holes (including the names I have given each hole at Weyhill), plus current yardages and the ability to add yardage if necessary for tournament conditions. For the Old Course, the description centers upon the membership rotation and, for Weyhill, the original routing as designed by the Gordons.

OLD COURSE

Hole 1 ”Saddleback 558 yards par 5 (560 yards if par 5, 485 yards if par 4). The tee is right in front of the stately clubhouse, a short walk from the men’s locker room. The opening tee shot must be long to approach the saddleback in the fairway about 290 yards from the tee. The second shot is usually semi-blind down the hill to a reasonably flat landing area about 100-125 yards from the green. This green, however, is not the original green as designed by Strong, as the green was redesigned and pushed back 40 yards prior to the 51st Amateur. The most difficult pin positions are on the right side over the front right bunker where the green has the most pitch. The green loses its pitch as the player goes back and left.

Hole 2 ”Roadside 434 yards par 4 (465 yards). This hole is perhaps the strongest par 4 hole on the Old Course. The hole parallels the Saucon Valley Road entrance road to the club, hence the hole’s name. Again, the drive must carry a much-reduced saddleback in the fairway to hit a mid-iron from a level lie into a severely undulating green. The most difficult pin is back left, although any pin in the back is difficult. There is about 30 yards of room to move the back tee back and it would be near the 5th hole on the Short course, although there is more room to place the tee back further which would place the tee very near the 5th green on the Short Course.

Hole 3 ”Meadows 368 yards par 4 (370 yards, maybe 385 yards with some REAL effort). The tee shot on the 3d hole must be threaded through a funnel created by mounds protecting players going to the rock pile, the caddy shack and the main parking lot. There are trees on both sides of the fairway. Caddies forecaddy on this hole on the other side of the mounds near the tree line by the parking lot. I remember during my caddy days that all caddies would kick balls out of the right tree line to help speed up play. The hole takes its name after a large meadow on the extreme left behind the rock pile. The second shot is played with a short iron over Saucon Creek (the first shot over the Creek) to a sloping green. The green has two levels, although they are modest. The toughest pin is in the back, just over the ridge.

Hole 4 ”Knoll 159 yards par 3 (165 yards). This is the first hole in my playing life I played from the back tees. I didn’t feel like walking to the middle tee so I placed a ball down at the back tee, hit an 8 iron to 15 feet and decided to play from the back from then on. The hole itself is only troublesome if the pin is in the top shelf, back right. Otherwise, with a wedge or 9 iron, not much is asked of a player. For about two years in the 1980s, the sand was so soft in the front (deep) bunker that balls would disappear in the front face. If the club were ever to institute chipping areas, shaving the bank on the right would be great.

Hole 5 ”Cathedral 416 yards par 4 (440 yards). This is my favorite par 4 on the Old Course. I believe the hole got its name from the design of the green. The tee shot must be hit straight between two fairway bunkers to leave a shortish iron into a long and severe green. The second shot is hit to a green surrounded by trees on all sides and an OB fence on the left. The green is perhaps the subtlest green on the course, with the most difficult pin mid center and left. The hole needs additional length for tournament play because the green was designed for mid irons, not short irons. Bruce Fleischer, for example, hit driver, wedge here in the 2000 US Senior Open and that needs to change.

Hole 6 ”Sahara 582 yards, par 5 (595 yards). This hole runs gently uphill all the way until the 165-yard mark. The fairway is wide open for a fade or draw. The second shot must contend with the expansive sand area known as the Sahara. The Sahara is on the left and is littered with small shrubs (and, yes, caddies have to rake it). The third shot is usually a wedge to a moderate-sized green with a deep pot bunker front and center. The toughest pin position is right behind the pot bunker. This is the number one stroke hole for the members, although it played the easiest of all the holes in the 1992 US Senior Open.

Hole 7 ”Plains 430 yards par 4 (450 yards). This hole parallels the 16th on the Grace Course and is on some of the most level land on the course. The drive must thread through a set of bunkers to reach the plains and set up a mid-short iron into a moderately sized green. There is a hogback that runs across the heart of the green, making back pins more difficult. Again, length is necessary for tournament play because the green was designed for a mid-iron, not 8 and 9 irons.

Hole 8 ”Evergreens 378 yards par 4 (415 yards). This hole is reasonably hard against the club’s Shoudy barn entrance road and one can see the 6th tee and the 18th hole on the Grace Course from the tee. The tee shot must be drawn around the bunker in the left corner of the dogleg to set up a wedge approach. Prior to the 1992 and 2000 US Senior Opens, a great deal of the green was recaptured behind and to the right of the right front bunker, green that had been lost over years. It added about another pin position or two to the green and brought the right bunker into play. The toughest pins are on the right side. Another chipping area would be good right and long. The length is necessary to make the fairway bunkers more relevant again. The new tee would be placed in proximity of the 6th tee on the Grace Course.

Hole 9 ”Creek 180 yards par 3 (185 yards). This hole concludes the front nine and is another shot over Saucon Creek. The back tee is near the squash center and the tennis courts. Prior to the 2000 US Senior Open, the club recaptured some of the green over the right front bunker, adding another pin. The green is rather large and moderately sloped from back to front. The toughest pins are on the right side. The club’s pro shop is just behind the green. Also, the 1980s scorecard version had this hole as the signature hole on the Old Course.

Hole 10 ”Lookout 387 yards par 4 (400 yards). Tournament 16th hole. This hole is a rather difficult opening to the back nine, especially after the long walk between the 9th and 10th holes, which takes one by the club’s olympic swimming pool. The tee shot must thread through bunkers left and right (the right side have been added in 1992 and 2000) to a upsloping fairway. The second shot is usually played from about 150 yards to a large back to front sloping green where a shot hit with spin will screw back 40-50 feet easily. In 1992, Larry Laoretti, on his way to winning the US Senior Open, fired right at the back left pin to 5 feet for birdie. The hole earned its name from the view from behind the green.

Hole 11 ”Turtle 172 yards par 3 (185 yards, with some effort). Tournament 17th hole. This is my favorite par 3 at SVCC. The tee is elevated from the green and is hard against the snack shop. The shot itself is about an 8 iron to a green shaped like a turtle’s shell and surrounded by sand. It is the hardest green on the course to read. There is a flat shelf on the green middle to back on the left side that houses the most difficult pin on the course.

Hole 12 ”Dog-leg 412 yards par 4 (435 yards, with a little more effort than the 11th). Tournament 18th hole. This hole is a true dog-leg (hence the hole’s name), continually bending from right to left almost to about 150 yards out from the green. The tee shot is downhill, sweeping from right to left. The second shot can be semi-blind, depending on what side of the fairway the player is. The green has characteristics of a Biarritz green, but is nowhere near the structure of Yale 9. There is a swale that bisects the green about 40% into the green to a reasonably sloped upper tier. The toughest pins are in front, although one can bump and run a shot into this green. Laoretti birdied here in 1992 to close out his fourth round, then was fly-tackled by his wife.

Hole 13 ”Buttonwood 338 yards par 4 (335 yards). The tee is by the west dining room in the clubhouse and is on the opposite side of the putting green from the first tee. The tee shot is partially downhill to an uphill fairway surrounded by bunkers (none were part of the original design; they were added by Maxwell, Gordon and Grace himself). There is a swale in the green that is not too severe and reasonably accepts a wedge shot. The hole earned its name from the trees framing the hole.

Hole 14 ”Plateau 195 yards par 3 (200 yards). Tournament 11th hole. This hole is the longest par 3 on the Old Course by far and plays entirely uphill. As a caddy, you wanted your golfer to at least make it up to the forecaddy area, otherwise the walk down, then up the hill would be brutal. The green has two levels, which were more distinct prior to the 1992 US Senior Open. Expanding the chipping area in front of the green would allow balls to exit the green far quicker and leave a more difficult shot. I believe this green is the most severe given the shot required of the player. The 4th hole on the Short Course is on the player’s right.

Hole 15 ”Surprise 589 yards par 5 (600 yards). Tournament 12th hole. This hole was featured in Golf Journal as one of their Great Golf Holes in 1992. The tee shot must be threaded through a tunnel of trees and makes one think it is similar to Congressional open rotation 17. The drive must be played right to left to take advantage of the downslope. The second shot must be played off a somewhat downhill lie and must avoid a rather large fairway bunker (in the fairway) about 125 yards short of the green. The third shot must be delicately placed to a much more relaxed version of the Turtle. The toughest hole location is back and right. From 15 yards short of the green and looking right, one can see the third hole on the Grace Course.

Hole 16 ”Narrows 434 yards par 4 (450 yards, maybe another 15 with a great deal of work). Tournament 13th hole. This hole parallels the 17th on the Old Course and the 2d on the Grace Course. The hole is straightaway with no bunkers. For the better player, the Saucon Creek doesn’t come into play (which is on the left side). The green really is not all that severe as some of the others on the Old Course.

Hole 17 ”Willows 422 yards par 4 (430 yards). Tournament 14th hole. This hole parallels the first hole on the Grace Course (and I used to use this fairway to play the first on the Grace Course when I really pushed my drives to the right ”made it easier to play that hole). Another right to left dog-leg tee shot that must flirt with the willows on the right to open up the hole. The second shot clears Saucon Creek some 50 yards short of the green to a semi punchbowl green with moderate slopes. With some breeze, this tee shot is tough.

Hole 18 ”Pond (originally called Saucon) 345 yards par 4 (370 yards). Tournament 15th hole. The original back tee was shared with the middle tee on hole 16. The tee shot is not all that demanding to a flat fairway. The bunkers that dot the hole on the left of the fairway were not part of the original design ”the original design was to emulate the 18th on the real Old Course and could be driven. The second shot is a wedge to a highly sloping, large green. It is best not to be above the hole here. This hole did not play as the 18th in tournaments because only about 500 people can watch play from behind the green and the fact that it is only 25 yards from the West Patio.

At a par of 70, it could play at 6975, with the par 5s at 595 and 600!

GRACE COURSE

The first nine holes constructed on the Grace course had virtually unlimited land. The second nine holes constructed had far more limited land. The shot values are less than the Old Course, but some length is necessary by a player (unlike the Old Course) and there is a better finish, especially with Hole 15 converting into a par 4. Unfortunately, the Grace Course will never be tested in competitive situations because of the 18th hole (more on that later). Also, converting two of the par 5s to par 4s would be less controversial here than on Old Course 1.

Hole 1 ”Valley 582 yards par 5 (585 yards). You approach the first hole on the Grace Course from the clubhouse area. When a player walks by the 18th hole on the Old Course to Grace Course 1, one understands the name of the hole. The hole is a double dog-leg, ultimately bending to the right. There is not too much imagination necessary here. The green is one of the more sloped greens on the course. There is a cross bunker about 25 yards short of the green to create a visual effect. I have two stories about this hole. The first is that Larry Bell Snr (scratch), long time club president, was attempting to qualify for the club championship one year. His first tee shot was a straight dive into Saucon Creek in front of the teeing area. He ultimately took 9, yet shot 76 with 17 straight pars. The other was when I caddied for Gary Daniels (club champion 1989, 1997, 2000, played in the 2000 US Senior Open) during a practice round. He had 83 yards into the green and told him so. He thought it was 86. He hit it 86 and was above the hole. He then hit it 83 (after walking it off) and put it 3 feet under the hole. That was my first glimpse of truly controlled golf. This hole parallels Grace 18 and Old 17.

Hole 2 ”Saucon 412 yards par 4 (415 yards). This hole parallels the Old’s 16th and is remarkably similar on the tee (just opposite directions). The second shot must clear Saucon Creek some 90 yards short of the green to a green with bunkers right and left. The green is reasonably large with subtle breaks. The rough here is usually some of the thickest because it is one of the low points on the property and receives the most sun.

Hole 3 ”Island 232 yards par 3 (235 yards). This hole’s tee (almost) abuts the Old’s 15th green area. It is the longest par 3 on the course and at SVCC. There is water about 40 yards short and to the right of the right bunker. If one pulls it greatly, Saucon Creek is also in play on the left side. The hole usually plays into a crosswind. The green does not have a severe pitch and allows for a long iron to hold. It was on this hole I gave up trying to hit a 1-iron. This hole is probably the toughest par on the course.

Hole 4 ”Old Pike 542 yards par 5 (480 yards par 4 or 565 yards par 5). This hole earns its name by paralleling the Old Philadelphia Pike. It is perhaps the easiest of the par 5s on the Grace Course. If this hole were converted to a par 4, the tree at the corner of the dog-leg would have to be removed (and, I think, would make for a better hole). Old Pike is also the only par 5 that is not a double dog-leg. The drive must be drawn, which then allows a player to reach it in two. The green is moderately sloped and has a stand of trees behind and right of the green.

Hole 5 ”Eden 166 yards par 3 (165 yards). This is the shortest par 3 on the Grace. The hole also shares its tee with the 17th on the Old. It is about an 8-iron, slightly uphill, to a reasonably severe green with a deep bunker in front. In terms of a pretty picture, this is certainly one. Something along the lines of Pinehurst 9 could work here and take better advantage of the physical terrain short and behind the green to create chipping areas that would increase the shot value from the tee.

Hole 6 ”Little Sahara 389 yards par 4 (425 yards). This hole takes its name after the 50 yard by 50 yard bunker that guards the front and left of the massive green. After one catches one’s breath after the walk from 5 green to 6 tee (you walk through the 18th hole to get there), from the 389 tee, it is a fairway wood and a 9 iron or wedge into the green. The green is broken up into quadrants without severe undulations. There is plenty of room to move the tee back and slightly to the left in an effort to ensure the hole is not played as an iron/wedge. The 16th tee is directly behind this green. Near the teeing ground was the residence for Jerry Pittman when he was head golf professional.

Hole 7 ”Peak 445 yards par 4 (445 yards, perhaps another 15 yards with a great deal of work). This hole is almost a 90-degree dog-leg from right to left. A sweeping draw is required from the tee, and using the edge of the bunker at the corner of the dog-leg helps tremendously. The second shot is from about 165 to 175 yards to a smallish green with bunkers left and right. This green has some pitch to it and putting is not as easy as the previous hole. After playing this hole a few times, I finally learned that I needed to play a draw in order to score better. Learning that draw helped me keep some rounds going while playing the Grace Course, in that this hole no longer was a guaranteed double bogey.

Hole 8 ”Spring House 398 yards par 4 (415 yards). This hole plays downhill on the tee shot towards a drainage pond about 150 yards short of the green. There is also a huge weeping willow on the right side of the drainage pond, which forces a player to hit his drive to the left of the fairway. The second shot is hit uphill to a relatively flat green that possesses little imagination. I believe adding some undulations to the green and placing the tee on the other side of the road leading to the Villa Pazetti would strengthen the hole. There is a little house near the drainage pond and that is where the hole derives its name.

Hole 9 ”Villa Pat 428 yards par 4 (455 yards). This hole is one of the really solid par 4s on the Grace Course. The tee is back in the trees and the tee shot asks a player to hit another draw to a fairway with a bunker on the left and Saucon Creek well on the right side. From an uphill lie, the second shot is hit to a moderately undulating green near the Villa Pazetti, the Grace’s halfway house and private party house at SVCC. Bunkers surround the green. Placing the tee back some 30 yards would strengthen the value of the second shot.

Hole 10 ”Crossing the Stream 536 yards par 5 (550 yards). From Holes 10-14, this represents the most cramped section on the Grace Course. This hole was featured in either Golf Digest or Golf Magazine as one of the top 100 holes in the United States in the 1980s. As the name suggests, it is a par 5 where a player must cross Saucon Creek on the drive and on the second shot to set up a wedge approach to a reasonably pitched green. Essentially a three wood, 7 iron and wedge gets the job done on this hole. The only tough shot the player faces is placing the tee shot in the fairway, where there are trees on the left and trees and Saucon Creek on the right. The back tee is about 25 yards in front of the patio at the Villa Pazetti.

Hole 11 ”Sitting Pretty 197 yards par 3 (200 yards, and there is about another 10-15 available). This par 3, in my opinion, is the best on the Grace Course. It is a mid-iron to a narrow green with two deep bunkers on the left. If it were as downhill as Olympic 3, it would resemble it to a certain degree. Right and/or long are not the places to miss it on this hole.

Hole 12 ”Weyhill 342 yards par 4 (345 yards). This hole is the furthest point from the main clubhouse and, across the road, is the Weyhill Club Course no. 16 green (hence the hole’s name). The tee shot must be hit about 225 to a narrow fairway with a huge stand of trees on the right that block access to the green. The second shot is a wedge to a small green with the trees hard against the green on the right. The club has had tremendous difficulty with this green because it receives almost no sun (this may have changed). The hole is more difficult than it appears. For example, club member Robin McCool was challenging for the lead in the 1987 Pennsylvania Open when he tripled the 12th to fall out of contention.

Hole 13 ”Sitting Pretty 340 yards par 4 (360 yards). This hole, along with the 10th, possesses the only sloping fairway on the Grace. A straight tee shot is required to avoid the rough on the right and the trees on the left (shared with the 10th). The tee shot should favor the left side, as it opens up the rather large green. Again, there is little imagination with this green for such a short hole. The player sees the 17th green and 18th tee on the Weyhill Course from the green.

Hole 14 ”Over There 173 yards par 3 (175 yards). This is the last of the par 3s on the Grace Course. The tee shot, with a 7 or 8 iron, is played to an amphitheater setting near the Villa Pazetti. Part of the front of this green is a false front, while the back portion is rather flat. The same thoughts I stated about hole 5 can be reiterated here in an effort to strengthen the hole. The 1980s scorecard version had this hole as the signature hole on the Grace Course.

Hole 15 ”Faraway 541 yards par 5 (475 yards par 4 or 565 yards par 5). This hole was analyzed by Ron Forse in Links Magazine in either 1999 or 2000 as an example of a strategic par 5. It is a double dog-leg, first to the right (and slightly uphill), then to the left, which sets up a wedge approach to a moderately sized green. While Forse is right concerning the number of options available to the player from the tee, its position on the back nine is unfortunate because a player will have hit a wedge on nos. 10, 12 and 13 and another wedge on 15 is too repetitive. As a par 4, the finishing stretch would be quite strong, although certainly not in the league of Winged Foot West.

Hole 16 ”Mounds 446 yards par 4 (450 yards). This hole is remarkably similar to the 16th on the Old Course with two major exceptions ”1 ”The tee shot on Grace 16 must be hit from left to right to avoid the trees and 2 ”there are mounds surrounding the green that slopes from front to back. Missing this green is usually not recommended because of the heavy rough on the mounds. A player can see the 6th green on the Old Course from this green.

Hole 17 ”Corner 437 yards par 4 (445 yards). This hole is the only severe dog-leg from left to right on the course. The tee shot must be hit from left to right and be center-left on the fairway to open up the green. This, along with the 12th green, is the only non-original green on the Grace Course. The original allowed for a bump and run shot to a semi-punchbowl green. In the late 1980s, the green complex was changed to force a shot from the air and added some severe contours. It is the only green that looks (more or less) out of place on the entire SVCC property. I must say, however, that changing the green strengthened the hole significantly. This hole is parallel to the 8th on the Old Course.

Hole 18 ”Playground 445 yards par 4 (455 yards). This hole, after some of the heroics found on the Grace Course, is somewhat of a let-down. The hole is usually downwind and down hill. The Shoudy barn entrance road is on the players right (OB). The tee shot is best played right to left, which leaves about 165 yards to the hole. The second shot is played to a moderately sized green with some contours with some trees long and the squash court’s playground on the right (hence, the name of the hole). There is simply no room for any spectators on this hole. Hole 18 also parallels the 1st hole.

At a par of 70, the course would play 7075 yards with good par 4s closing out each nine.

WEYHILL COURSE

The Weyhill Club Course always disappointed me in the way the land was utilized by the Gordons. The greens on the Weyhill Course have much more contour than the greens on the Grace Course and it does not appear as if they had any space limitations on what they could design. A number of the original back tees are no longer utilized, although their yardage will be listed as part of this narrative description. The original design blueprint (last I checked) can be found in the caddyshack. As mentioned earlier, this is the only course at SVCC where the holes have not been named. I, about 10 years ago, named them myself while caddying there on a Sunday. For the record, I find the course to be of great enjoyment to play, just disappointed on the lack of fortitude throughout the 18 holes. This course has the longest walks between holes (8 and 9, 10 and 11, 16 and 17(!!!) of all three courses.

Hole 1 ”Roadside 381 yards par 4 (430 yards). This hole earns its name because of the road that parallels the 1st hole on the left. The tee shot is straightforward and needs to avoid some fairway bunkers. Currently, the second shot is with a wedge to a severely contoured green from front to back. There is an area about 55 yards directly behind the green that would be great for a green site and add length to the hole for a better opening hole. I would like to see the same style of green, slightly enlarged at the location 55 yards behind the current green.

Hole 2 ”Death Valley 573 yards par 5 (480 yards par 4 or 575 yards par 5). This hole earns its name for the huge depression in the land that separates the lower fairway from the upper fairway and green. As a par 5, it requires a long, drawn tee shot that sets up a long iron up the hill and over Death Valley to about 100 yards from the hole. From there, it is a wedge to a large two-tier green with a front left bunker most in play. I believe placing the green at the 103 yard marker (and same size as the current green) would make for perhaps one of the best par 4s in Pennsylvania and would be quite a heroic second shot. For years, the club had a fairway cut in Death Valley; in 1987, it was eliminated.

Hole 3 ”Weyhill Crescent 395 yards par 4 (400 yards). This hole earns its name from one of the estates near the 3d tee, as well as the view from the tee. The tee shot is best worked from left to right and towards the right side, as the fairway is sloped from right to left. The second shot is a short iron to a moderately sized green that is wildly contoured and a deep bunker on the left side. The only change I would make is pushing the fairway slightly to the left from the tee to increase the pitch in the fairway. When you play this hole, it is best to look over at the 5th green from the 3d green to see where the pin is.

Hole 4 ”Quarry 178 yards par 3 (180 yards). This hole earns its name from the quarry between tee and green. The green is pitched from back to front and from side to side. The only thing I would add are chipping areas right and long. Given the natural setting, this is the best par 3 on the course. When the breeze kicks up, this is one hard hole.

Hole 5 ”Valley 418 yards par 4 (425 yards). This hole earns its name from the view from the tee and is probably the best par 4 on Weyhill. The original back tee is no longer used, so now it plays about 375 yards. The tee shot is hit into the valley to a fairway that slopes from left to right and is about 24 yards wide. The second shot is straight up the hill to a hillside green strewn with bunkers and trees on the left and long (a lost ball for sure). The green has two distinct levels, although there is little contour in this green. Pushing the tee back to 425 yards increases the shot value to the drive ”currently it is an iron and short iron.

Hole 6 ”Hilltop 143 yards par 3 (165 yards). This hole earns its name from the tee being placed on the highest point on the property. There are two back tees on this hole ”one on top of the hill and another near an old fireplace almost level with Saucon Creek. The green is quite large considering the shot and not all that severe. It is also surrounded by sand. I think the hole would be best played from the fireplace location, add 20 yards, shrink the green by 40% and tighten the bunkers to the green. The only problem with this change is the length of the walk from 5 green to 6 tee. This hole represents the closest I have ever come to a hole-in-one ”almost holing a wedge on the fly.

Hole 7 ”Homestead 364 yards par 4 (370 yards). This hole earns its name from the home for the club’s general manager up on the hill right of the green. The original back tee is no longer used, as it is between two trees at the base of the hill that shapes the 6th hole. The original tee is best used because it increases the difficulty of the drive. Currently, the hole is an iron/wedge to a smallish green surrounded by sand. I would push the fairway towards Saucon Creek on the left, push the green towards the creek as well, deepen some of the bunkers and increase some slope to the green.

Hole 8 ”Running Away 551 yards par 5 (555 yards). This hole earns its name because it appears as if the green is running away from the player. It is another Gordon double dog-leg par 5, but I like this one in the manner in which they utilized the land. The tee shot must be hit left to right, a long iron or wood up the hill and a wedge third. The green is reasonably contoured with a deep bunker right front. I would add some chipping areas right and long on this hole.

Hole 9 ”Pit 440 yards par 4 (475 yards). This hole earns its name because of the depression of land 50 yards short and right of the green. After the long walk from the 8th green to the 9th tee (where one must cross the road leading to the club and behind the 1st green), one must play a long tee shot (either a draw or fade works), then a mid-iron into a large, moderately contoured green with bunkers left and right. The hole works its way back to the caddyshack. There is plenty of room behind the back tee, which would add 30 to 40 yards and would be consistent with the original design of the hole.

Hole 10 ”Spectacles 539 yards par 5 (475 yards par 4 or 540 yards par 5). This hole earns its name from the two bunkers that guard the entrance to the green. When I caddied at SVCC, most caddies started their rounds on Weyhill at no.10 to start off with a par 5. The tee shot asks for a draw, a mid-iron to set up the wedge third shot. The green has some decent size and is moderately contoured. The only thing I would change is converting the hole to a par 4, which would give the back nine a par four over 450 yards, as well as adding a challenge to the player after hitting short irons at holes 6,7 and 8.

Hole 11 ”Skeet Shooting 395 yards par 4 (400 yards). This hole earns its name after the skeet shooting house on the left side of the fairway. The tee shot, especially in the morning, is played into the sun and is best played left to right to set up a short iron approach. There is a pond on the right that affects a player’s drive. The green is moderately sized and contoured. The only thing I would change is to bring Saucon Creek (on the right side of the green) more into play with the green to offer some challenge to the second shot.

Hole 12 ”Creek 184 yards par 3 (195 yards). This hole earns its name after the creek that fronts this green. The tee shot is over the creek (the only par 3 with water really in play) to a severely contoured green with a bunker right and left. This hole, in the morning, plays into the sun. The only change I would make is to bring Saucon Creek more into play both in front and left. One of my favorite playing memories took place on this hole one Monday. It was playing right into the sun and 185 yards. I hit a 5-iron (Titleist 1) but couldn’t see the result. I thought I hit it thin and hit another ball. The second ball (Titleist 2) felt thin too, so I hit a third (Titleist 3) and I felt the same feeling. Well, I decided to walk to the green to find out what happened. To my astonishment, all three balls were within 6 feet ”the only problem was that my original tee shot was 6 feet above the hole and I three jacked the green! Oh well.

Hole 13 ”Willows 432 yards par 4 (440 yards). This hole earns its name after the numerous weeping willow trees found on both sides of the fairway. The tee box is hard against Saucon Creek. The tee shot requires a long tee shot (a draw or fade works) to reach a fairway that begins to climb uphill about 165 yards from the green. The second shot with a 7 or 8 iron must be delicately played to a smallish green surrounded by bunkers that possesses some decent contours. Since there is not a really level lie in the fairway, there is an extra test for the player on the second shot. This hole looks totally natural in its setting. The original back tee is no longer in service.

Hole 14 ”Pond 383 yards par 4 (385 yards). This hole earns its name because of the pond that is just short and right of the green. I believe this is the weakest hole on the course. The tee shot is with a drawn, long iron. The second shot is with a wedge from a level lie to a large green, pitched from back to front (although it is not that severe given the length of the second shot). I would improve the hole the following ways:

  1. I would reduce the green size by 33%;
  2. I would eliminate the right green side bunker;
  3. I would move the green closer to the pond so it is in play;
  4. I would narrow the fairway from the right towards the stand of trees on the left;
  5. I would institute a series of fairway bunkers similar to Lytham 18.

Hole 15 ”Surrounded 205 yards par 3 (210 yards). This hole earns its name because the green is totally surrounded by sand. The tee is elevated to a moderate sized green with gentle contours. A sliced iron can find Saucon Creek if off-line by 15-20 yards. I would eliminate the back bunker so that shots that miss the green long may find Saucon Creek. I would also trim the trees right and behind the green to increase the impact of a swirling breeze.

Hole 16 ”Double Crossing 597 yards par 5 (630 yards). This hole earns its name because it is similar to the 10th on the Grace Course ”the player must cross Saucon Creek twice. The drive must be played left to right to a similarly sloping fairway. There is a huge weeping willow at the end of the fairway on the right side. The second shot is played over Saucon Creek to a flat fairway. The third is about 120 yards over Saucon Creek again to a small green with bunkers right and left. From the green, the player can see 11 green and 12 tee on the Grace Course. I would push the tee back by a maintenance shed because one can hit a three wood and get away with it now. The original back tee is no longer used.

Hole 17 ”Elbow 404 yards par 4 (405 yards). This hole earns its name by the severity of the dog-leg from left to right. The tee shot must be played left to right to an area about 150 yards from the tee. From there it is a 9 iron or wedge to a distinct two level green with no bunkers (the only hole on Weyhill without bunkers). The original back tee (back and to the right of the current tee) is no longer utilized. Restoring the back tee would strengthen the hole. From the green, the player can see the 13th on the Grace Course.

Hole 18 ”Verandah 386 yards par 4 (445 yards). This hole earns its name because the back verandah of the clubhouse overlooks the green. The tee shot must clear Saucon Creek and move left to right. From an area about 120-140 yards out, it is a wedge to a green with a mound in front and bunkers left and right. The green is not all that severe. For a finishing hole, this is really weak. I would eliminate the current green and place a new one back and to the left 60 yards near a bend in Saucon Creek so that a wedge is no longer hit into the 18th hole. The fairway would also have to be recontoured to properly play correctly. The only potential problem is that it would reduce some of the available land on the practice range. This hole experiences the most problems with heavy rains ”it tends to flood.

At a par of 70, Weyhill would play at 7065 yards and with a better start and finish.

Well, I hope that will answer your questions about SVCC and is reasonably complete. I apologize that I don’t have any photos of the courses. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask me.

The End