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Jim Sherma

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Hershey CC is my home club and one of my favorite places to spend time. I thank Joe Bausch for graciously letting me use his photos for this tour of the West Course. HCC is also home to the East Course which is a 1970 George Fazio and a wonderful golf course in its own right. One day the quality courses of that big-boy era will be appreciated for what they are as opposed to what they are not.

The West dates to 1930 and was done by Maurice McCarthy. HCC’s first head pro was Henry Picard who was followed by Ben Hogan. From the beginning the club has been a venue for championship golf.

Significant tournaments and the winners:

Hershey Open 1933-1937
1933: Ed Dudley,
1934: Ky Laffoon
1935: Ted Luther
1936: Henry Picard
1937: Henry Picard

Hershey Four-Ball (126-hole round-robin match play tournament with eight teams)
1938: Vic Ghezzi and Ben Hogan

Hershey Open 1939
1939: Felix Serafin

PGA Championship 1940
1940 Byron Nelson def. Sam Snead

Hershey Open 1941
1941: Ben Hogan

Lady Keystone Open 1978-1994
1978: Pat Bradley
1979: Nancy Lopez
1980: JoAnne Carner
1981: JoAnne Carner
1982: Jan Stephenson
1983: Jan Stephenson
1984: Amy Alcott
1985: Juli Inkster
1986: Juli Inkster
1987: Ayako Okamoto
1988: Shirley Furlong
1989: Laura Davies
1990: Cathy Gerring
1991: Colleen Walker
1992: Danielle Ammaccapane
1993: Val Skinner
1994: Elaine Crosby

2011 PGA Professional National Championship (Both East and West Used)
David Hutsell 274 (–11)

2012 USGA Women’s Sr. Amateur
   2012: Ellen Port

Pennsylvania State Open 1935, 1953-1962, 1964-1966, 1971-1972

While Maurice McCarthy had an architecture pedigree I do wonder why Milton Hershey would have chosen him while the likes of Ross, Tillinghast and McKenzie were all still active at that time.

I asked HCC’s Director of Golf, Ned Graff, if there was any knowledge as to why McCarthy was selected. Hershey’s archivist sent the following response. While it does not answer the original question it is still a very nice description pertaining to the early creation of the club:

About 1908-1909 Milton Hershey oversaw the construction of a nine-hole course located between the Factory and Mansion Rd., off of E. Chocolate Ave.  An early edition of the Hershey Press (1915) described the original 9-hole links:

“Golf seems to be taking a deeper hold on the Hershey community.  Many of our visitors are inquiring about the well-kept facilities visible from the highway (Chocolate Avenue).  The present golf course is built around the private grounds of Mr. M.S. Hershey, a generous estate, permitting the laying out of a 9-hole course, with a variety of grades, foliage and streams.  For five years, this beautiful course has been built up until the greens are in perfect condition.”  

“Two years ago (1913) this 9-hole course was placed under the charge of Edward Dearie, Jr.  It was Mr. Dearie who built up the course at Montclair, New Jersey on the Hereshoff Estate, one of the finest private 18-hole golf courses in America.  Dearie’s last two years of tutelage were under the late Willie Anderson, four times Open Champion of the United States.  Upon coming to Hershey, Mr. Dearie revised and rearranged the course layout, bringing it to its present peak of perfection.”

As the factory expanded, the golf course shrunk to 5-6 holes.  In the late 1920s, Milton Hershey, decided to lay out an eighteen-hole course.  For its site, he chose Pat’s Hill, where he planned to build a large hotel in the next few years.  The project was turned over to Harry N. Herr, engineer for much of the town’s infrastructure.  Though he had never designed a golf course, Herr proceeded to lay out an exceeding difficult course for the steep and hilly terrain on Pat’s Hill.  However, before construction could commence, Milton Hershey met with Maurice McCarthy, a nationally known golf architect.  Hershey took him to view the proposed course on Pat’s Hill.  McCarthy discouraged its construction, suggesting that it was better suited for mountain goats rather than people.  McCarthy was ultimately hired to develop two courses.  The first was for the new Hershey Country Club (The current West course), incorporating the land of the original 9-hole course.  The second course was the Hershey Park Golf Course (The NLE Hershey Parkview course).

Irish- born Maurice McCarthy came to the United States in 1890 when he was only 15 years old. Though young, he was already a skilled golfer.  He capitalized on America’s emerging interest in golf and immediately began giving lessons in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  A few years later he laid out his first golf course for the Jefferson Country Club in Watertown, Massachusetts.  By the time Milton Hershey hired him to design a course for his model community, McCarthy had laid out courses for clubs in several states including Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina, New York and Connecticut.  

The course McCarthy designed for Hershey would become his best known achievement as a golf architect. After its completion it was ranked as one of the top ten courses in the country.  

I've never seen anything about how Milton Hershey connected with Maurice McCarthy.  I imagine it was in much the same way that he connected with Joseph Gassler and William Spinner, who were managing the Montclair (NJ) Golf Club before Mr. Hershey enticed them to come work for him.

The current routing of the West course:

Prior to the building of the East Course the club originally used Milton Hershey’s Mansion as the club house.

On the overhead the mansion is located by 5’s green and 6’s tee.

The only changes to the routing that I know of is that the original first hole went west from close to where 6’s tee is towards the parking lot in the overhead’s lower left. The second hole than teed off from the lower left of the overhead to the current 6th fairway and green. The original first hole was lost to a plant expansion and it is my understanding that the following changes were made to make up for the lost hole.

The current #8 played as a long par 4 starting from near 7’s green and playing as a sweeping hole that ended down behind the current #9 tee. The old green pad can still be seen where the front tee box on 18 is. The current #1 green was played to as a par-3 along the tree-line behind the current 17’s green. To make up for the lost hole the current #8, #18 and #1 was created/expanded from the original two holes described above.  

The Card:

I will post the first three holes in the next day or two as I get the time.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 04:56:22 PM by Jim Sherma »

Rory Connaughton

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 12:37:36 PM »
Great stuff Jim.
Hershey is a great place for golf.  I'm a big fan of both the West and East Courses and prior to their respective demises, really enjoyed the Links and Parkview.  Keep it coming!

Steve_ Shaffer

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 01:58:51 PM »
I have many fond memories of Hershey CC and the Hotel Hershey, one of which was  the appearance of the Lone Ranger(Clayton Moore) at the annual meeting of the PA Trial Lawyer's Ass'n.  ;D

Here is the story of Ben Hogan at Hershey:

"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses ... "  Adlai Stevenson
Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone: "We're bigger than US Steel."
Ben Hogan “The most important shot in golf is the next one”

Dan Herrmann

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 09:07:16 PM »
It's a very special place.

Steve Wilson

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 10:52:59 PM »
While I enjoyed being introduced to Lancaster and York while up there last month thanks to Jim and Rory, I have to admit that I would enjoy playing the West Course day in and day out.  There's a lot of fun golf on the West.
Some days you play golf, some days you find things.

I'm not really registered, but I couldn't find a symbol for certifiable.

"Every good drive by a high handicapper will be punished..."  Garland Bailey at the BUDA in sharing with me what the better player should always remember.

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (1st Hole Posted)
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2014, 09:06:48 AM »
Hole 1: Par 4 – 437yds

Challenging par 4 to start the round with par a very good opening score.

The right fairway bunker is a difficult carry for everyone other than the truly long and the key to the tee shot is really to just put it in the fairway without running through it. Anything that gets along or into the left rough inside of 200 will have to take on the tree at 143.

View from the tee:

The shot into the green will have to clear a cross-bunker to a green that feeds away from the front for the first 30% of the green or so. The approach to this green is interesting and I believe that it is caused by the fact that we are playing it from an angle that it was not designed for. It was originally played as a par three being played from along the left tree-line/hillside. The vestigial bunkers on the left served to visually block out part of the green and the current cross-bunker

View from the right side of the fairway near the bunker:

The low lying blindness seen here is a recurring theme on the course with obscured approach shots on 8 or 9 holes depending on where your drive ends up.   

View down to the green from up by the vestigial bunkers short left of the green:

This shot is taken along the as-built approach line to this green. From the current approach line, as seen in the fairway shot above, it looks like the front left of the approach should act like a kick plate moving balls onto the green from the left. Looking at this picture however you can see that as you get up closer to the green on the left the slope flattens out and I’ve had many balls end up in the left greenside bunker that I had hoped would feed to the right. The green as an extension of the fairway is also a recurring theme and allows for many run-up options through the round resulting in significant enjoyment for players of all ages and styles.

View from long right of the first green:

Here we see some of the old-school sharp edged shaping that exists as part of many of the greens on the West course. The natural flow from the fairway is very much is very much manufactured creating an illusion of a natural extension that the player does not realize until you either exit the green happily or made the mistake of missing a green on the downhill side. This green kind of fights the flow of the land and results with a green moving from back to front over the last 2/3rds of the green after moving away from the front left for the first third. There is no obvious saddle point and at normal green speeds the resulting change in speed is subtle and difficult to read well coming across the transition in the middle of the green.

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (First Hole Posted)
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2014, 12:37:04 PM »
Hole 1: Par 5 – 568yds

First of five par 5’s on the course.

The white tees (540yds) play from an elevated tee box on the left while the blues play from a lower box on the right. The lower box is a more challenging shot since you generally cannot move the ball right to left due to the angle of the fairway and some trees. The added length also forces me to play to the most interesting part of the fairway that has significant movement affecting the lie for the third shot.

View from the upper white tee:

The right to left tilt and pretty heavy rolls in the fairway as you approach the upslope at the end of lower fairway add a significant amount of interest to the hole. As you get towards the end of the lower fairway the shot to the green becomes more and more blind but this is offset by a somewhat more level lie compared to the area 20-60 yards short of the end of the fairway. The blindness gets accentuated as you move left in the fairway.
Assuming that I can’t reach the upper fairway my preferred play is to hit it as far as I can up the right side as I can. You can generally draw a flattish lie and a little better view of the flag/green. The rough is not generally maintained to be a huge deterrent given that you’re inside of 100 yards is you are on the hillside.

View from the end of the lower fairway:

Note the depression in the hillside rough in line with the flag. This appears to be a grown in bunker. Restoration (or creation if I am mistaken) of this bunker would add significantly to the interest in the second shot since it would force more of a decision as to challenging the second shot.

View from the green from short in the upper fairway:

Staying in front of and to the left of the hole is very important on this green. This green is fairly large and generally moves from back right down to the front left. Within the general slope there are variations that make for certain areas that play very severe compared to others. There are hole placements in the back right and around a little ridge moving diagonally from the back left towards the front middle that can result in very severe putts if you are on the wrong side of the hole. The severe areas are not that obvious due to the fact that they very often result in a slight variation within a broader general slope. One of the joys of membership was spending the first couple of years developing an understanding of just how much hole-placement means on many of these greens.

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2014, 12:44:28 PM »
Great stuff Jim.
Hershey is a great place for golf.  I'm a big fan of both the West and East Courses and prior to their respective demises, really enjoyed the Links and Parkview.  Keep it coming!

Rory - the whole saga of Wren Dale/Hershey links is just sad. When the Links was part of the club it was very nice having three courses from three eras all of them very good representations of that era.

West Course - 1930 - Maurice McCarthy
East Course - 1970 - George Fazio
Links - 2000 - Hurdzan and Fry

Parkview was anohter neat old Maurice McCarthy course that met its demise in 2005 right after I moved to Hershey. I had the pleasure to have played it many times over the 20 years prior to that and always considered it one of my favorite courses. There were a good 6 half-par holes that opened up a large spread of potential scores and there were just so many fun shots to play there.

Jim Sherma

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Hole 3: Par 4 – 354yds

After the somewhat pedestrian 2nd we move further towards town and have the first of two wonderful short par fours.

View from the front of the white/yellow tee box:

Notice that the first two bunkers on the right were filled in 5 year ago or so. While not in play for the better player they did add to the hole visually. This hole reveals itself slowly. Off of the tee the second fairway bunker on the left is not visible. My preferred play is to hit 3-wood down the right side of the fairway on a line to the right of the 150 stake. The angle to the green from the right side is preferred and anything moving left can find big problems quickly. The further back you leave yourself the worse visibility you have of the green as the hole slowly works its way up and over a slight rise.

View from 140 or so with none of the trouble around the green is visible:

A more aggressive drive leaves you being able to see the surface of the green as it extends from the fairway.

View from just inside of 100 from the left side of the fairway:

Like number 1 this green plays as an extension of the fairway but it is built up and fully manufactured.

Left side of #3 green:

Left rear of #3 green:

It does not take many mistakes to learn the folly of chasing any pins on the left side or back of this green. I find this a very nice short to mid length par four that must be treated with respect but readily rewards well thought out and executed play.

Dan Herrmann

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (Third Hole Posted)
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2014, 09:04:35 PM »
FYI. the photos above show the iconic Hershey smokestacks and the Kissing Tower at nearby Hersheypark.  To me, this really adds to the sense of place, and brings a smile to my face. 

Joe Bausch

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (Third Hole Posted)
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2014, 09:07:40 PM »
FYI. the photos above show the iconic Hershey smokestacks and the Kissing Tower at nearby Hersheypark.  To me, this really adds to the sense of place, and brings a smile to my face. 

I like chocolate too, Dan.   ;D
@jwbausch (for new photo albums)
The site for the Cobb's Creek project:
Nearly all Delaware Valley golf courses in photo albums: Bausch Collection

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (Third Hole Posted)
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2014, 10:13:39 AM »

Hole 4: Par 4 – 307yds

At this point we cross the street and head back into the town proper with Milton Hershey’s mansion, the old Chocolate factory location, busy roads and a very active train line. I believe the train line is the old main line of the Reading Railroad.

As we cross the road we go past a one-room school house that at one time served as the caddy-shack for the club:

Photo from late 1930's of Caddyshack from the Hershey Historical Society Website:

While short on the card the fourth hole is a very difficult hole in my opinion.

View from the front of the white tee box:

It’s said that ben Hogan would always play this hole 7-iron -> 7-iron and simply take the trouble out of play. The obvious challenge off of the tee is the narrow fairway, left is lost-ball dead and right leaves very little chance of recovery. I find that being along the right edge of the fairway is the preferred angle. After years of regular play I am still not sure what the best play distance wise is.

The real difficulty of the hole is the getting a ball to stay on the green in a spot that you can get the ball in the hole.

View from 80 or so with the old power plant building, smokestacks and cocoa bean silos in the background:

The ridge right behind the hole is what makes the hole. For this hole placement anything running past the hole and over the ridge makes for an almost impossible two-putt as the ball will just run-out towards the front of the green. A neat feature of this green that adds to the difficulty is that the ridge also hides the fact that the green cuts in from the right and there really is no way to hold the green if you land the ball past this pin either in line with the pin or to the right of it. Once you hit either the top of the ridge or the downslope past the ridge there is just not enough green to hold the ball on. The only way to get the ball on the back half of the green is to challenge the left bunkers. The generally softer soil down in this hollow adds to difficulty of trying to hit the types of wedge shots needed for this hole.

Finally, this green is one of the toughest greens to read well that I have ever encountered. On repeated plays I find this hole just plain tough.


Hole 4: Par 3 – 176yds

The most photographed hole on the course. The green sits on Milton Hershey’s front yard and is very severe for all hole placements other than the front to middle locations to the right of the left bunker.

Absolutely a beautiful natural hole. Played from a ledge in front of the rail line. The ruins of Catherine Hershey’s rose garden are seen short of the tree on the right.

View from the front of the upper white/blue tee box:

I have not seen a photo that does this green justice. The back left location shown is the highest spot on the green and any putts not approached from below and left of the hole are very tough. Left front locations over the bunker can play somewhat like a redan in that you can draw the ball in across the front of the green and it will release down into that area of the green. Anything long on this hole is a very difficult up and down with everything moving away from you.

Outside of the picture to the right was where the old Hershey Chocolate plant was located. Except for office space the plant is taken down at this point with all production moved across town to the expanded Hershey-West plant. While the move from a 100+ year old facility was needed the biggest loss is that the smell of roasting and processing the cocoa beans no longer wafts over this part of town. If the breeze is in your favor you can still sometimes get a great roasting peanut smell from the Reese plant in town.

« Last Edit: July 29, 2014, 11:12:01 AM by Jim Sherma »

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (Third Hole Posted)
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2014, 10:21:26 AM »
The way the course interacts with the town is great in my opinion. I have always liked in-town courses however. Saying that, while it is a very mature and beautiful course the West course is certainly not a place for solitude and getting away from it all.

The original routing that started at the mansion was very much start in town, go for a walk in the country, return to town. Both nines played like this but even in 1930 there muct have been a decent amount of activity at least around the plant-end of the property.

FYI. the photos above show the iconic Hershey smokestacks and the Kissing Tower at nearby Hersheypark.  To me, this really adds to the sense of place, and brings a smile to my face. 

I like chocolate too, Dan.   ;D

Carl Nichols

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My family is at the park today with the kids' swim team.  Looks fun -- maybe next year I'll join them and try to get a round in. . .

Mark Pritchett

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I am enjoying this thread.  Hershey CC looks like a fun and interesting course.  Have you played any other Maurice McCarthy courses?  I realize he did not do too many. I have played Forest Lake Club in Columbia, SC and really like it a lot. 


Jim Sherma

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I am enjoying this thread.  Hershey CC looks like a fun and interesting course.  Have you played any other Maurice McCarthy courses?  I realize he did not do too many. I have played Forest Lake Club in Columbia, SC and really like it a lot. 


The only McCarthy courses I have played are the NLE Hershey Parkview, which was a wonderful course, and the nine hole Spring Creek also in Hershey. Spring Creek was originally called the Hershey Juvenile Golf Club and was built for kids to have a place to learn. There are still 5 original McCarthy holes (1,2,7,8,9) in use and the greens are pretty cool.

The website is here:

At some point I know I will have to make more of an effort to play some. I'll do some research and try to add some background info on McCarthy into the original posting. In the past I have tried to find more info on him and have not had too much luck.

Jim Sherma

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Hole 6: Par 4 – 348yds

We are right in town for the 6th hole. The tee is on a ridge hitting down to a wide landing zone with the main hazard being the diagonal Spring Creek. The water hazard coming in from the right is a cement culvert that is dry more than not.

View from the front of the white/blue tee box:

The drive is more interesting than it looks. Trees have mostly blocked out the chance of cutting the corner leaving the choice of how much to challenge the creek. In scrambles and such some players still try to take it up over the trees but it is a low probability shot with the rewards not outweighing the risks in my opinion. There are many benefits to challenging the creek. The further left you go along the creek the shorter second shot is an obvious benefit. More importantly the lie you have gets flatter as you move both left along the creek and closer to the creek. Most importantly however is that if you hit your drive too deep into the fairway the approach shot will have to take a couple of large willow trees into account that block out the green.

View from 100 or so right along the creek – on the right are the willows that impact approach shots from deeper into the fairway:

View from behind the green:

This view really shows the advantages of challenging the creek off of the tee. The way the fairway flattens out short of the creek between the willow and the creek leaves a very straightforward 100-120 yard shot. Taking more club or bailing out right from the tee either leaves you behind the willow or hitting off of the tilted fairway with a hook lie from 140-190. Once on the green it is fairly straightforward.

The 6th hole uses parts of the original routing’s first and second holes. The first played off of the ridge but down towards the factory and town. The second would then play straight along the road approaching the green along the center line shown in the photo above.


Hole 7: Par 5 – 550yds

Pleasant but somewhat straightforward par 5. This is a hole that has not benefited from the new equipment.

The hole is draped softly over the land and the most interesting part of the hole is how the second set of fairway bunkers are cut into the upslope of a natural depression running across the fairway. They are not visible from the drive’s landing area and are real hazards as far as the third shot goes. Unfortunately, for stronger players they are no longer really in play unless the rough is up or you end up in one of the bunkers off of the tee. Unfortunately I do not have a real good photo of these bunkers.

View from the front of the white tee box:

The driving zone’s upslope do tend to make the hole play longer. To the left through the trees is true sacred turf in the golf universe. That area is the old practice area where Ben Hogan would hit balls and during his tenure from 1941-1951.

View from 40 or 50 yards short of the green:

Another green that is an extension of the fairway. The West Course’s approaches are kept sufficiently firm to allow for use of the ground game as long as you’re not bringing it in with too much spin and/or trajectory. The green generally slopes from back to front and this is another one that subtly gets very severe in certain areas as the broad slopes slope change within themselves. For this green the front and middle right areas are severe as is the back of the green generally. There are also some spots along the left that can get real fast as well. For greens that appear so mild from the fairway knowledge of where the more severe areas are can be very beneficial in terms of knowing where not to hit it.

Mark Pritchett

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Here is a link to an article about Forest Lake Club that mentions a little about Maurice McCarthy.  I will see if I can get their club history book and hopefully it will have more information.

Mark McKeever

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Great tour so far Jim, keep it going!

Best MGA showers - Bayonne

"Dude, he's a total d***"

Jim Sherma

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Hole 8: Par 3 – 232yds

Long par-3 over a benign stretch of ground.

Given that this is one of the longer approaches on the course the green is one of the few that does not allow for a run-up shot. The upslope short of the green is just too steep. Staying short of the green is preferable to any of the other misses.

View from 150 yards or so short of the green:

Hooking the ball into the left bunker is especially tough as there is a risk of the ball plugging into a downslope lie in the left side of the bunker. This green is one of the two that are not original to the course, the other being 18, and it is somewhat out of character and has less interest than the rest. I do not know the specifics of when or who did the work on either this green or 18.


Hole 7: Par 4 – 389yds

The second shot on the ninth really starts a great stretch of golf in my opinion. One of the ways I think about how courses separate themselves architecturally is how the architect handles bland flat land with little or no natural elements to play off of. The ninth on the West is that in spades. It is a mid length par 4 across an essentially flat field. The only movement to the land is that it gently rises up and then down removing any chance of full visibility either on the drive or the approach. Onto this canvas McCarthy built a green that moves steeply from left to right and slightly from back to front creating significant interest in repeated plays to a hole that would have very little otherwise.

View from the front of the white tee box:

From the tee there is virtually no definition whatsoever. The two bunkers you can see somewhat frame the fairway and are out of reach for all but the very long hitters. My preferred line is at the left edge of the right bunker. This allows you a less oblique angle to the slope of the green that is essentially falling away from you if you approach it from the left rough. The trees on the right side will affect you if you challenge the right side and miss even slightly into the right rough.  

View from the left side of the fairway from 130 or so:

From this angle you can see the tilt from the high right left side down to the right. The left green side bunkers are a real bad spot as it is very unlikely that you will be able to stop the ball until it feeds all the way down to the right edge of the green.

View from just short of the green on the left:

This is not a good spot to miss for most hole placements as everything is running away from you with no upslope to hit the ball into. This is one of the more benign hole placements on this green and any of the three balls seen here are fine. Moving the hole to the left significantly makes the hole play harder.

View from left of the green:

This angle shows just how much movement there is down towards the right of this green. When green speeds get a little fiery the only good place to leave you ball is pin-high to the right of the hole. With most playable spots on the right half of the green the area of good outcomes shrinks quickly. In some ways the approach plays a little easier when the greens get firmer since the shot will release down to the low side of the green. When the greens are softer I sometimes find that the ball will hang up on the slope more and the shot that I thought was perfect will leave me a very difficult two-putt.

And yes, that pine tree should be taken down. While Hershey West does have many trees on the property the course does not play like a tight course except in a couple of spots. There are some new plantings taking place but they appear to be getting ready for the older trees aging and becoming more brittle.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 04:00:09 PM by Jim Sherma »

Jim Sherma

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Re: Hershey Country Club West Course - Photo Tour (Front 9 Posted)
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2014, 11:52:09 AM »
HOLE 10:

Hole 10: Par 4 – 422yds

When I consider how different courses compare to one another I believe that courses that have the chance to separate themselves from the pack need at least a few spots of something really special and world class. The tenth is a very good hole with touches of greatness in my opinion. While there are no “wow” visuals there is architecturally a lot happening from tee to green.

From the tee the whole line-of-instinct versus line-of-charm dynamic is in play. You can see the flag floating to the right over the fairway bunkers.

View from the front of the white tee box:

The obvious answer seems to be to challenge the inside bunkers to shorten the hole. However, the best angle for the approach is the far outside of the dogleg that is achieved by challenging the left fairway bunker.

View from the right center of the fairway 130-140yds out:

The second shot is downhill to the green with a worse angle relative to the greenside bunkering the further to the right that you go.

View from the right edge of the fairway 80yds out:

Moving closer to the green the benefit of approaching from the left becomes more obvious. The front to back movement of the green also becomes evident. An interesting element of the approach that was pointed out to me my fellow GCA’er Steve Wilson is the swale on the approach. I always just thought of it as necessary for drainage and not really as an integral part of the how the hole played. For front hole locations Steve pointed out how it forces one to really commit to either flying the ball at the hole or playing a run-up and landing the ball well short in order to get it to kick forward. Any shot that splits the difference will just die in the upslope leaving a rather unpleasant chip to a green running well away from you.

View from directly behind the tenth green:

View from back-left of the green:

This is a green that just keeps growing on me. There is so much happening on it within the general fall to the back-center of the green. There are three different spines coning into and across the surface from the outer edges of the greenpad, front-right, back-right and back-left. Pretty much any putt outside of 25-30 feet will be a difficult two-putt unless you are directly below the hole.

HOLE 11:

Hole 11: Par 4 – 354yds

Short par-4 that plays with a lot of bite. Very small green with a lot of sharp movement within it. I find this to be a difficult green to read well and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of putts made on it.

Yet another tee shot with very little definition. The aiming point is the Hershey Kiss streetlight right in front of the house. The right tree line is jail while anything left is usually ok except for the fact that left side hole placements become quite a bit more difficult to access.

View from the front of the white tee box:

I always lay-back from the tee in order to have a fuller wedge and take the fairway bunkers out of play. The fairway slopes down to the green past the fairway bunkers leaving a very testing shot from a tight lie with OB lurking just past the green. There is a cart path behind the green that is very tight to the left half of the green and leaving a little more room the further right you go. The path almost assures that most shots that go long will meet a bad fate. It is needed to supply a route from the 6th green (to the right of this picture over the road) to the 7th tee off to the left. While there are cart paths by the greens and tees they generally are not too noticeable or intrusive.

View from 60yds:

The hump to the back center of the green does act as a backstop and also serves as an anchor to a spine that impacts putts going across the green. The spine takes an already small target and creates a collection of rather severe locations across the back of the green. The hole location pictured here has very small margins of error with the path maybe 5 yards behind the hole and OB directly behind that.

Rory Connaughton

  • Karma: +0/-0
Keep it coming Jim.  I think 10 is a fantastic hole and the green presents a great challenge.
Reminds me of the comment I heard one day when I hit one right at the flag. . "I bet you think you hit a good shot"

Jim Sherma

  • Karma: +0/-0
HOLE 12:

Hole 12: Par 3 – 180yds

This was the 18th hole in the original routing. Interestingly, in the original routing both 9’s ended with par 3’s. West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill, PA also has both 9’s ending with par 3’s. I am sure that there are other courses out there with this configuration but I have not played them. To have two of them within 15 miles of one another is an oddity.

The twelfth plays much more uphill than it appears to from the tee, I usually allow for almost a full club more. There is a rise in front of the tees that hides most of the ground between the bunkers and the tee. It also serves to hide the sense that you are hitting uphill to the green.

View from the front of the white tee box:

The green is very fast back to front and kind of funnels to the front center. There are some very neat hole locations around the perimeters of this green. The front center of this green is the one place on the course that really doesn’t allow for fair hole locations when the greens are running at normal speeds. The rest of the green can be pretty scary is you’re above the hole but at least uphill putts will stop and not roll back.

View from 120:

This second photo is from on top of the rise and you can make out how the green is raised from the land approaching it.

HOLE 13:

Hole 13: Par 5 – 568yds

I consider the thirteenth one of the really great natural holes that I have played. It is a par 5 that plays for me as a true three shotter. The greatness of the hole is how McCarthy took advantage of the most extreme land form on the course and draped this hole across it. 

View from the front of the white tee box:

The tee shot is played to a wildly sloping fairway with a reverse camber. While everything drops off to the left there is enough primary rough on that side of the fairway to keep most balls from running down into the gunch/trees. When the primary rough is allowed to grow up a little the drive on this hole becomes much more difficult, I usually play for the ball to run out and am pretty indifferent as to whether or not it ends up in the fairway or not given the normal height of our cut. The bunker on the right is a very bad miss and there really is no reason to challenge it in the first place unless you are long enough to carry it by a good distance. The fairway in the landing zone has a lot of undulations and the challenge of flighting the ball off of these types of lies is a treat.

View from a good drive’s run-out along the left edge of the fairway:

The fairway continues up to the right along the upper rim of this landform. Misses left into the bowl are very bad and a lot of big numbers are made from there. For the second you are almost invariably left with a significant hook lie. There is a huge advantage to getting the ball as far up the fairway as possible in order to get a flatter lie and also the margin for error on left is much greater if you can get past the bowl’s far side. This is one of the really great par-5 second shots that I’ve played that did not involve hitting to the green.

View from about 90yds:

Assuming that you successfully got to this point the fun is not over. The angle up to the green only allows you to see a sliver of the 34 yard green. With the back to front tilt magnifying the difference there could be as much as a 2-3 club swing between a front and a back hole location depending on how aggressive you are to the back location and how smart you are in keeping the ball below the front locations.

View from short right of the green:

Another classic West Course green. A broad slope, back to front this time, with variations within the slope adding significant interest. There is a nasty little ridge middle-left that makes for some tough locations and some more severe spots in the front and back-right locations. Generally the green is very fast if you are past the hole.

Jim Sherma

  • Karma: +0/-0
HOLE 14:

Hole 14: Par 4 – 354yds

The 14th is kind of a pacing hole that falls in the middle of a stretch of 3 par 5’s in 4 holes. This is also an example of how McCarthy used the green to find some interest on an otherwise flat piece of land.

The fourteenth slowly rises from the tee leaving you with only a view of the top of the flagstick. The deep fairway bunker right is a bad miss although over it in the rough is not too bad of a spot to come in from. Anything left forces you to take into account a tree that sits about 50 yards short of the green.

View from the front of the white tee box:

The green is somewhat of a punchbowl with the perimeter tending to move balls back towards the center. The drainage is to the left of the green past the bunker and putts down to that area can get a little quicker. The bunkers on the right are a bad miss as they are a little removed from the green surface and the green is generally running away from you. There is a pretty dense copse of trees past this green that makes the turf very sparse back there. I consider that area one of the worse misses on the course.

View from 90yds:

View from back left of the green:

View from back right of the green:

This second photo shows some of the internal movement on this green. It is a little different than most of the greens in that there are a couple of saddles and ridges through the surface. Many of the greens have a dominant slope with variations through them. The hole is certainly one of the easier ones on the course but is still a nice drive and pitch hole with some interest.

I generally don’t want to see holes lengthened just for the sake of it but this one could probably benefit from adding 20 or 30 yards. There is certainly room to do so and the only down side would be having to back-track to a new tee box while the current one sits right next to the previous green.

HOLE 15:

Hole 15: Par 5 – 501yds

The 15th is the third piece of the course that I consider to be a world class hole. The green sits on a wonderful natural landform and makes for a great reachable par 5.

View from the front of the white tee box:

The tee shot is another one with little or no definition. From where this photo is taken you can see a lot more of the hole than further back in the tee box where the hole is normally played from. Joe must have made himself pretty tall to get this view. The left fairway bunker is generally out of reach for most players and really serves more as a way to add some definition as to where the left edge of the fairway is.

View from 250yds:

The fairway contains some nice natural rolls that must be taken into account when trying to execute the second shot, especially if you are going for the green in two. From this point the majesty of the green site is still not seen.

View from about 140yds:

This is one of my favorite spots on the course. At 140yds the hole plunges down around 40 feet or so before rising back to a beautifully sited two-tiered green. Depending on where your drive ended up and how aggressive you want to be this hole forces a decision to be made. 

View from the bottom of the dip:

From down here you are faced with a shot ranging from 110 to maybe 60 yards from a tight flat lie. There is no visibility of the green and the two tiered nature of the green makes distance control very important. This is my least favorite of all of the options. Any ball ending up on the fairway short of the green will roll potentially roll all the way down to at least the slightly flatter spot that can be seen half way down the slope and potentially all the way down to the bottom. If I can’t get up to the top of the hill I find that being on the upslope in the right rough is not a bad spot in general. The straight uphill shot off of the tight lie is just tough in my opinion.

Short right of the green up on knob:

From this spot the natural green location is fully seen. Left of the green up in those trees is usually lost-ball dead. Anything to the right of the bunkers risks bounding down to the right where it bottoms out at the same level as the dip seen in the previous picture. Long of the green leaves a nasty pitch that can easily run off of the front of the green and all the way down the fairway. My usual play is to blow something at the bunkers and it if turns over and ends up on the green that’s a bonus. The bunkers or the rough around them leaves a pretty good chance at getting up and down and generally takes some of the bigger numbers out of play.

View from behind the green:

From up here the trouble along either side of the green is obvious. The ridge running across the green is steep enough and high enough that putts/chips from the back to the front can run off the front of the green if you get a little too aggressive. Even the seeming bailout along the left and rear of the green leaves a very difficult shot off of the downhill lie. When the greens are running fast I’ve aimed away from the hole in order to take running off of the front edge out of play and just taking my medicine.

In my opinion the 15th is a hole with a sense of greatness. There is a fairly thin line separating having a reasonable chance at a three and making a 7 or worse. While I consider this hole a potential birdie opportunity I know that being aggressive always risks blowing up a round.

Jim Sherma

  • Karma: +0/-0
HOLE 16:

Hole 16: Par 5 – 517yds

Coming into the home stretch. The 16th is the last of the five par 5’s. The drive is downhill with a knob/ridge in the fairway that provides a significant advantage to those who can carry it.

The neat aspect of this hole is the right to left slope on the right 20% of the fairway into the right rough. Given the trees up the right side and the hook lie you are left with anything ending up along the right brings all of the trouble on the left in play for your second shot.

View from the front of the white tee box:

Once the drive is negotiated into the left half of the fairway or even the left rough the decision as to how to negotiate the hillside must be made. Carrying all the way up to the upper fairway has a good chance to run onto the green. There is a lot of movement within the rough in the ridge so there is no guarantee of having a straightforward lie if you end up between the two sections of fairway.

View from 210yds:

On the second/third shot anything wildly left will bring big numbers into play. Right however makes for a more difficult up and down as the green is running away from you to the left. The green/flag is blind as you approach the end of the lower fairway.

View from short of the green:

The green is fairly large with a general slope from back left to front right. The more severe pins are in the front to middle left and up in the back center to right. Middle right can get tough as well. This was a green that I found much more interesting across multiple plays as there is very little obvious interest until you start to see all of the different hole locations.

When the PGA Club Professionals played here they played this hole as a long par 4 although I am not sure if they used the gold or the white tee box. This is the other spot on the course that adding some yardage would bring some of the architectural interest back given today’s distances. Namely the ridge in the fairway and a tougher decision as to where to leave the second shots. The flow from the second green to the third tee would need to be addressed but there is definitely room behind the current back tee to add 30 or so yards if desired.

HOLE 17:

Hole 17: Par 3 – 182yds

The 17th is a wonderful par-3 with a green that is just wicked in spots.

View from the front of the right side yellow tee box (although this is a mistake in the yardage book the white tees usually play from the right side box while the yellows play from the front-left box – the blue tees are almost always on the back left box:

The green drains to the front left and there is a knob in the front right that makes for some very difficult hole locations all the way across the front of the green. The center to back left of the green is some of the more benign locations on the whole course. The front left bunkers are not a bad miss for front hole locations as you are hitting back into the slope. Anything left or long runs the risk of falling down a steep wooded hillside. The right bunkers just tend to be a bad place to miss.

While there are not too many trees that impede the golfer on the West the pines on the right here certainly do and should be taken down in my opinion. One of the more fun shots on the course is releasing a little draw down to middle and back pins off of the slope on the far right side of the green. The pines do nothing but dissuade you from challenging the right bunkers in order to use the slope in the green to access those locations.

View from short of the green:

From closer to the green you can see how much slope there is down to the front left of the green. This hole played from the blue tees is more interesting due to the longer club that you are asked to hit. Coming in at a lower trajectory enhances some of the front right contours and also brings the hard left miss more into play for me. Three is always a well-earned score on this hole.

HOLE 18:

Hole 18: Par 4 – 424yds

We have reached the end. The 18th is not original to the routing but does serve as a solid closer.

View from the front of the white tee box:

This is a very awkward drive. The fairway turns early and full drivers aimed down centerline will run through the fairway leaving you in the tree line. Hitting to the turn will leave you a shot of 170-200yds to a green that is elevated from its surrounds and well-guarded. The aggressive line is up and over the corner to the left of the pine you see along the right side of the fairway. There is actually a decent amount of room down there even if you can’t see it from the tee. The copse of pines at the inside of the dog-leg (where the shadows are at the bottom of the hill on the right) used to be allowed to grow down to the ground and was a miserable spot to end up. By cutting the branches up it is much easier to talk yourself into taking the more challenging and aggressive line assuming you have the carry length to get up and over. Feeling comfortable with a line over the corner took me 2-years of regular play. Players comfortable with a cut shot off the tee have a huge advantage on this hole.

View from 150yds:

The 18th green is similar in character to the 8th, the other non-original green that I am pretty sure was made at the same time. The slope going up to the green is steep enough to reject any run-up shot other than something coming in low and hard. There is a spine coming down into the green from the back center but all in all this green is lacking in some interest for me. Saying that it is difficult for me to read and I rarely make putts of any length on this green.

View from behind the green:

That’s it for the West Couse at Hershey CC. My opinions of the course are admittedly quite high and I believe that the course is generally underrated. I am unsure if my bias from familiarity causes me to think too highly of the course or rather take some very good stuff for granted and therefore think too low. My handicap index has fluctuated between the high 3’s and the mid 6’s in my time as a member and all strategic assessments are based on my game. I have played the course with players of many levels and have never seen anyone feel like they have been beaten up unduly or that the course does not allow them to play to their strengths. At the same time the course is challenging to the good player and with a little heavier cut of rough and some more aggressive pin placements it can hold its own with most courses in terms of scoring difficulty without having to do anything stupid.

Saying all of that, there is clearly not enough length to challenge the best golfers anymore and I certainly have no desire to see any changes made in that direction. Having played the course over the last nine years, the last three as a member, I still feel fully engaged with the architecture and feel like I am still learning some of the subtlety of what’s there. I really find no meaningful faults with the course and there are at least three holes that I consider to be world class. Coupled with the more challenging but somewhat less lovable 1970 George Fazio East Course I feel very fortunate to be a member here and believe that Hershey is a very-very solid golf destination for serious golfers with a GCA inclination. The courses are accessible to guests of the Hotel Hershey and the Hershey Lodge.

Just to clarify; I do work for the chocolate company and love living in Hershey, I have no relationship with the club other than as a member.


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