It's not often you get to play one of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the country but finally, I played my first. Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square is ranked #76 in the United States by Golf Digest and it did not disappoint.
When I received the invite (thank you JJ & MJ) I actually debated if I wanted to or not. I had played private courses before so I thought, "How different could Aronimink be?" Well, I'm an idiot for even considering not playing and now I think I might be hooked on the Top 100 Golf Courses. As a golf fan enthusiast, I needed to play this so I could truly understand what I have been missing. Without further delay, here is Aronimink Golf Club.
(The clubhouse at Aronimink Golf Club. The club was founded in 1896 and moved here in 1928.)
Aronimink Golf Club is located just outside of Philadelphia, PA in Newton Square. Although founded in 1896, the club changed locations several times before finally settling here in 1926 and opening its doors in 1928. The club sits on 300 acres and they own an additional 90 acres which would be able to host an additional nine holes.
The course is a traditional Donald Ross design it's nothing short of spectacular. How good? It's rumored Ross him self was quoted as saying "I Intended to make this my masterpiece but not until today did I realize I built better than I knew". The course has undergone some changes since the original design and but the majority of it remains the same.
The Club hosted it's first PGA Championship in 1962 and in 1977 hosted the USGA Amateur Championship. After 20 years without an event, the 1997 USGA Junior Amateur Championship was played here and just 6 years later, the Senior PGA Championship was hosted by Aronimink. Wondering if we would ever see an event here again, The AT&T Championship (Tigers Woods Tournament) signed up to play the 2010 & 2011 events as Congressional undergoes some changes.
The way things look, this could be a stop in the near future for another major championship or a regular PGA Tour stop. It's that good.
I asked a prominent golfer I know for some advice prior to playing here. He responded with "stay out of the fairway bunkers and stay below the hole". This is normally sound advice on any course but I'd like to take it a step further. The fairway bunkers are very difficult to get out of. They have a pretty good face to carry and in most cases you'll have to club down to get over it which makes reaching the green almost impossible. My advice to you is hit the fairway.
As I mentioned above, I have played private courses before, but nothing like this. The rough was without question the thickest rough I have ever hit out of. I'm not sure if it was because the AT&T National was 5 weeks prior (our caddy said it had been cut down some since then) but this was thick. In most cases I could only see the top of the ball and once in the rough, it would be very difficult to reach the green. My tip for anyone playing: stay in the fairway!
(A view of the clubhouse and green on the 9th hole. A 605 yard par 5 plays uphill)
The par 70 course plays 7190 yards from the tips (which we didn't play) and offers a slope/rating of 74.4/130. Each 9 has one Par 5, two Par 3's, and six Par 4's. There is very little room to make up a stroke on either side and you will begin to understand why 10-Under won the AT&T National. Per the course website, it has 101 bunkers strategically placed and they have been worked on over the years to increase the depth, making them more challenging.
The Par 3's
As I mentioned above, the Par 70 course offers four chances at an Ace. The 5th hole (pictured below) may be the easiest, but don't be fooled. The perched green is guarded by three deep bunkers in the front. All three of my playing partners were in the bunkers and while on the green, I could not see any of them.
(The 5th hole, a 178 yard par 3 named "Mohawk" is guarded by 3 deep bunkers)
The 8th hole is one of the most incredible holes you'll ever play. The 238 yard par 3 has an elevated tee box and is guarded by water short of the green. For all four of us, it required a long iron and I imagine some would hit a hybrid here. There is a landing area just over the pond (see picture below) which allows you to be a little short, but too short and you're wet. The only word coming to mind when on this tee box is "intimidating".
(The 8th hole is an intimidating Par 3 playing 238 yards from the tips)
The mens locker room was pretty special. I won't give too much detail but it's a large open room with a very high ceiling. The prestige and history of the club can really be captured in here. The service was great from the time you arrive until the time you leave.
The greens were typical Donald Ross. Most of them sat on a "perch" and if you missed, you were hitting up to the green. I expected the greens to be fast but I suspect the rain slowed them down a bit and they were still in recovery mode from the recent PGA event along with some extremely hot weather in the area this year. They rolled very true and were in excellent condition. One of the guys in our group (MJ) made a remarkable downhill birdie putt on the 15th, the #2 handicap hole.
(The 7th hole is a dogleg right Par 4 playing 401. Notice the elevated green. Anything left is jail.)
What WAM Thinks
If you have the chance to play here, do not pass it up. It's a true golf experience I hope everyone can have. From the time you pull into the drive until the time you leave, you realize you're playing somewhere special.
Location: Newtown Square, PA
Cost: $95 for the round, $80 for the caddy.
Proshop: Yes. Pickup a souvenir for yourself!
Range: I didn't get to use it but yes, it has a practice facility.
My Score: 95 (49-46) Hit the fairway!
Play Again: If I'm lucky enough to be invited yes! My Aronimink Picture Post
Website: Aronimink Golf Club
Notes: I was asked several times how I played here and I told everyone... I combined two of the tips in here:
It's free to download courtesy of Golf Vacation Insider.
Special thanks to JJ & MJ for making this happen!