2013 US Open - Merion

US Open in Philadelphia

With the playing of the US Open this week at Merion the spotlight on greater Philadelphia — returns to the front page in the golf world.

The City of Brotherly Love — founded in 1682 by William Penn — has some of the finest golf courses in the nation — most notably on the private side of the ledger with the likes of Aronimink, Rolling Green and Huntington Valley, to name just a few. Merion / East is hosting its 5th US Open and the facility will host a record 17th USGA Championship.

For those bringing clubs to Phillie during Open week or at any other time it pays to sample the public options below. The range of courses runs the gamut — there’s city-owned Cobbs Creek designed by Hugh Wilson — the man responsible for both courses at Merion. You also have old-time architects who have left their handiwork with the likes of Donald Ross at Jeffersonville. The recent vintage includes places like Glen Mills, Lederach and Scotland Run — just across the Delaware River in New Jersey.

Philadelphia also offers a slew of top tier attractions and places to visit. Much of America’s earliest days can be traced here — the roots of America are certainly here with the likes of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and a rich mix of architectural styles that add considerable heft and attention.

Bring your appetite as well. Philadelphia has a slew of top tier spots — with the world renowned cheesesteaks leading the way.


Places to Play …

The Golf Course at Glen Mills – Glen Mills, PA
Par-71, / 6,636 Yards
T (610) 558-2142

Often mentioned as the leading public course to play in the greater Philadelphia area. Designed by Bobby Weed, Glen Mills provides rolling terrain to a solid mixture of holes. The golf course is named for the Glen Mills Schools which dates back to 1826 and has been at the forefront in helping at-risk youth.

Photo Credit: Scotland Run

Photo Credit: Scotland Run

Scotland Run GC — Williamstown, NJ
Par-71 / 6,810 Yards
T (856) 863-3737

Located about 30 minutes from Philadelphia on the Jersey side of the Delaware — Scotland Run is a Stephen Kay design and provides a combination of elements — wooded in spots and includes links-like holes that move in and around a former quarry site. Well routed and often in superior conditioning. The par-4 16th is a classic risk and reward hole.

Lederach GC — Harleysville, PA
Par-71 / 7,025 Yards
T (215) 513-3034

Designed by Kelly Blake Moran — Lederach is clearly outside the norm of ho-hum matter-of-fact public courses. The layout incorporates various shape and contours on the putting surfaces. Just reaching the green is only half the battle. First time visitors will need to pay particular attention to landing one’s tee ball in the appropriate location. Thinking golf is alive and well here.

Makefield Highlands

Makefield Highlands

Makefield Highlands — Yardley, PA
Par-72 / 7,058 Yards
T (215) 321-7000

Located in the northeast suburbs of Bucks County — Makefield Highlands is a recent addition — 2004 — to the greater Philadelphia golf market. Turf quality is generally top shelf and the layout by architect Rick Jacobson uses the former farmland with a good mixture of holes. Choose the appropriate tees when playing — the slightest miscues will be penalized — in fact, 22,000 balls were fished out of the fronting pond at the par-4 15th.

Cobbs Creek (Olde) — Philadelphia, PA
Par-71 / 6,202 Yards
T (215) 877-8707

Photo Credit: Cobbs Creek

Photo Credit: Marc Feldman / Billy Casper Golf

The first golf course in Philadelphia dating back to 1916 — Cobbs Creek is the handiwork of Hugh Wilson — the man responsible for the design of Merion / East & West. Interestingly, the course is only four miles from the US Open site. Avoiding the creek on the early holes is a must and dealing with the land grade changes and lengthier holes on the back is no small task either.

Wyncote GC / Oxford, PA
Par-72 / 7,148 Yards
T (610) 932-8900


Photo Credit: Wyncote GC

Tucked away in Oxford — located in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania — Wyncote is a heathlands layout and is designed by Brian Ault. When played from the tips — Wyncote requires a merging of sufficient distance in tandem with uncanny accuracy to get near pin location on some of the more vexing greens one can putt.  Be ready to play or perish.

Jeffersonville GC / Jeffersonville, PA
Par-70 / 6,443 Yards
T (610) 539-0422

When the fingerprints of legendary architect Donald Ross are on your course — it’s hard to ignore or beat. Opened in 1931, Jeffersonville has been updated smartly in recent times by Ron Pritchard and the restoration work has added much of the original character and charm. The long par-4 1st hole may be the best public opener in the region.

Paxon Hollow CC / Media, PA
Par-71 / 5,709 Yards
T (610) 353-0220

Not long in total distance but wonderfully crafted on a small piece of property. Dating back to 1926 — Paxon Hollow illustrates the importance of shot making and placement. Be wary of Trout Run which meanders throughout the course. The closing par-5 18th is a real treat because so much can happen on this final hole.

Five things to do when in the greater Philly area !

* Longwood Gardens
An incredible array of horticulture, fountains, and various concerts scheduled throughout the summer months. Located in Kennett Square — less than 40 miles from the core of Philadelphia but well worth the ride. Great family fun indeed. www.longwoodgardens.org/

* Independence Hall
Where the US Constitution was drafted and the Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776. Visitors are admitted free of charge by tour only, with tours beginning in the East Wing. Visitors need a free timed ticket for the Independence Hall Tours from March through December. www.nps.gov/inde/independencehall-1.htm/

* Liberty Bell
No visit to the Philadelphia area should miss this iconic landmark — the “bell” of liberty is indeed alive and well here. The inscription says it clearly and succinctly — “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants.”

* Adventure Aquarium / Camden, NJ
Just across the Delaware from Philadelphia. Provides a slew of interesting options for all ages. The perfect place to be in the summer time when the weather fails to cooperate. www.adventureaquarium.com

* Philly Cheesesteaks …    
Be sure to have a cheesesteak when in town — hard to resist when properly prepared with all the fixings. The choices below will certainly help solve your appetite – but likely not your overall weight!

Tony Lukes

Tony Luke’s

Tony Luke’s – Oregon Avenue – Cheesesteak/Roast Pork — be sure to try the seasoned roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe with seasoned Italian Fries – out of this world experience.

DiNic’s – Reading Terminal Market – Roast Pork
Jim’s Steaks – 4th & South Street – Cheesesteak
Geno’s/Pat’s – 9th & Passyunk – Cheesesteak
Shank’s – Columbus Blvd. – Cheesesteak