Pennsylvania is chockablock with first-rate golf destinations and popular local venues. Whether you are a local Pennsylvanian looking for new spots to golf within easy driving distance, or a seasoned golf-vacationer looking for a resort destination for your next buddies’ golf trip, you’re going to find something you’ll like.
From the countryside around Pittsburgh, to the Alleghenies, to the many highlands and valleys, Pennsylvania’s rolling green hills, wooded areas and natural lakes make beautiful course architecture fit right in with the natural countryside. Many of the most luxurious courses are private clubs, but some are open to the public. Many private courses participate in exchange programs with other clubs, allowing more visitors and guests to play their stunning greens.
Here are some of our top picks for the best places to golf in Pennsylvania:
1. Merion Golf Club
This is a private club for members and their guests. It’s not necessarily accessible to everyone who wants to play there. Normally that would push it down the list in terms of popularity and inclusive fun. But, Merion Golf Club is such a beautiful, well-designed and well-maintained course that we have to keep it listed at the top!
Ranked among Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Courses” list, Merion definitely makes the grade as one of the best places to golf in Pennsylvania. Located in Ardmore, “Merion’s East Course has played host to more USGA Championships than any course in America,” says club administration. This Hugh Wilson-designed course keeps the pros coming back.
2. Mystic Rock at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Pennsylvania certainly has no shortage of incredible private courses. But this gem of a course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is open to the public, making it all that much more inviting. Just a bit more than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh, this full-service resort has been home to the Mystic Rock course for years.
In exciting news for Pennsylvanian golfers, the resort is slated to offers visitors the choice between old favorite, Mystic Rock, and a brand new Pete Dye-designed course, Shepherd’s Rock, with a planned opening in 2017. Mystic rock was also designed by Pete Dye, with input from course founder Joseph Hardy. It is a beloved championship-level course perched high in the Allegheny Mountains. Visitors love how caddies are included in greens fees, which is emblematic of the resort’s immersive golf experience, including access to the popular Nemacolin “Golf Academy.”
3. Omni Bedford Springs Resort
Omni provides successful luxury accommodations around the world, but this favorite golf destination is located right in the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania state. The resort itself is a certified national historical location. The Bedford Springs area has been a vacation destination for those seeking “rejuvenation” for about 200 years. The “Old Course” provides a championship golf experience, featuring a “completely restored and historic golf course [with] bentgrass tees, plush greens and well-manicured fairways.” An impressive practice facility is available onsite as well.
4. Laurel Valley Golf Club
This one is another private course, designed by Dick Wilson in 1959. Golf Digest ranks it among the “Top 100 Courses in America” and third in the state of Pennsylvania. This club’s sprawling green expanse in Ligonier, Pennsylvania is punctuated with a grand brick clubhouse with every amenity.
Golf coach, Bill Satterfield calls the course’s 10th hole its “signature hole.” This par 4 is flanked by trees and flowers lining both sides of the green. And, “If you didn’t know better, you would mistake yourself for being at Augusta National when playing this hole,” he told Golfcoursegurus.com. The 18th hole boasts a sweeping view across the lake to frame the stately traditional clubhouse.
— C. Pedroja