By Adam McCully
Course Rating 65.5
Topping off our list is the oldest American golf course in continuous use. Foxburg Country Club was first established in 1887 by Joseph Mickle Fox who discovered the game while traveling through the United Kingdom and liked it so much he decided to build a course of his own.
This may not be the longest course you’ll ever play, but it’s rich history, scenic beauty, and challenging play more than make up for that fact. The narrow fairways and speedy greens will keep players on their toes, and you can feel the legacy of more than a century’s worth of golfers each time you tee off.
Especially if you tee off using hickory stick golf clubs. Don’t have any hickories of your own? Don’t worry, you can rent a set from the pro-shop.
In fact, Foxburg Country Club offers a completely unique playing experience. Golfers can rent hickory stick golf clubs, vintage balls, and tee off using a handful of sand piled up in a tiny mound.
There’s no better course in the US to replicate the early days of this sport, and if you like a challenge, or you’re just looking for a new way to experience this great game, there’s no better way to play.
*Spoiler alert: Even if you’re a big hitter, don’t expect to get the same amount of distance you usually get off the tee. I found that my tee shots were pretty much cut in half.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the course will be hosting its 9th annual Foxburg Hickory Championship. Although, I’d strongly recommend practicing a few times with the hickories before entering a tournament.
Foxburg Country Club is also home to the American Golf Hall of Fame, located on the second floor of their beautiful log clubhouse. The Hall of Fame features priceless artifacts and memorabilia that recap the history of this 400-year-old sport.
The Clubhouse also features a bar, restaurant, and pro-shop.
Foxburg is a resort town, meaning there are plenty of things to do once you’ve finished your round. You can spend the night at the Foxburg Inn, or take your dinner at the Allegheny Grille, located on the banks of the Allegheny River.
For more information on Foxburg Country Club, the town of Foxburg, or to book a tee time call 724-659-3196.
Course Rating: 68.3
Established in 1927 by Sam Henderson and his family, the Pinecrest Country Club is a semi-private (open to the public, but tee time required) course located in Brookville.
A member of the USGA and Western PA Golf Association, this course presents a challenging, yet fun, experience for golfers of all skill levels. The creeping bentgrass greens and poa annua fairways are both “beautifully maintained” according to online reviews.
Pinecrest’s other features include a putting green, chipping practice area featuring a sand trap, a driving range, a pro-shop featuring top brand name products as well as custom Pinecrest Country Club gear, and the 9-Iron restaurant, also open to the public and serving up everything from casual faire to fine dining.
Pinecrest is also the home of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Player of the Decade, Nathan Smith. Smith is a 4-time Mid-Am Tournament Champion and has played in 4 Master’s Tournaments as a result.
Golfers can set up a tee time online at PinecrestCC.com or by calling (814) 849-4666.
Course Rating: 73.0
Right off Exit 62 on I-80 is a fantastic course right outside the university town of Clarion. Built in 1968, Clarion Oaks features 18 holes and 236 acres of championship level course, which is open to the public.
One of the most notable features of this course is how open it is. In fact, you’ll find that most tees present you with an opportunity to break out the new driver and swing for the fences, as the extra wide fairways are remarkably forgiving.
But don’t get too comfortable. There are plenty of doglegs that will leave you with a troublesome second shot if you’re not careful, and the greens are notoriously challenging.
Clarion Oaks also features a driving range, two putting greens, a pro-shop, restaurant, and lounge. There are also several hotels located conveniently nearby for any golfers that are traveling from far away.
To set up a tee time or to learn more about the course itself, call (814) 226-8888. You can also visit Clarion Oaks’ Facebook page, which features several photos of each hole so you can scout it out before you play.
Course Rating: 68.8
Nestled within the Allegheny Mountains and right next door to Elk Country is Bavarian Hills Golf Course in St. Marys. This public course can be enjoyed by golfers of any skill level, but the hilly terrain (what did you expect with a name like Bavarian Hills?) will reward the patient and thoughtful golfer that prefers to lay up instead of going for it.
In addition to providing a challenge, the hills of Bavarian Hills also offer some pristine views of the surrounding countryside.
Visitors to Bavarian Hills can enjoy The Hills Restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner and is available for hosting banquets. There’s a driving range on the course, as well as a putting green and a fully-stocked pro-shop.
Two unique features found at Bavarian Hills would be the indoor golf simulators, which are available during the winter months upon reservation. There’s no better way – at least if you’re staying in PA – to keep your skills sharp and ready for spring than a golf simulator.
Course Rating 69.6
Built in 1954, this semi-private course is extremely well maintained and a joy to play. This is another course that stays fairly wide open on the front nine, but offers more challenging play on the backend, with an increased number of hazards and much tighter fairways.
Even if you’ve never played ECC, you might recognize the course from the 2010 film, Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.
Mike’s Pro Shop has a large selection of name brand equipment and ECC custom gear, and the Country Club restaurant offers up some great food service Thursday through Saturday.
If you’re a visitor to the Allegheny National Forest and looking for somewhere to play a round of golf, Hunter’s Station in Tionesta is your best bet. This 18-hole, 5,174 yard, open to the public course runs along the Allegheny River, PA Organization for Waterways and Rivers’ 2017 River of the Year.
Accuracy is key at Hunter’s Station, especially on the front nine where narrow fairways and wooded areas can lead to plenty of lost balls or difficult second shots. The trade off to this is of course the majestic scenery and rustic landscape. If you’re a golfer that enjoys “getting in touch with nature” then you’ll really enjoy scenic vistas at Hunter’s Station.
Hunter’s Station has an exceptional restaurant and lounge set up, and if you’re interested in spending a few days playing golf in the Pennsylvania wilderness, Hunter’s Station has six 2 bedroom with two baths condos, four motel rooms and a six bedroom with 5 baths home for guests.
Golfers can set up a tee time and inquire about lodging packages by visiting HuntersStation.com or calling (800) 227-9067.
Course Rating: 70.7
Located just outside the small town of Brockport is Scottish Heights, an 18-hole, open to the public course that will provide an extreme cardiovascular workout for anyone that foregoes that cart and decides to walk.
The courses’ hilly terrain provides a challenging and fun environment. While the sheer size of the course favors big hitters, those that are shorter off the tee can make up a few strokes on a couple of tricky par 3’s surrounded by water hazards and woods.
Scottish Heights also features a driving range, putting area, pro-shop, the Bagpiper’s restaurant – which has been getting excellent reviews online – and lodging for anyone spending the night.
To set up a tee-time or reserve a room check out their website at ScottishHeights.com or call (866) 622-9292.
Course Rating: 73.5
The first of two courses located in the Treasure Lake area of Dubois, the Silver course is the “friendlier” course with wide open fairways and considerably less woods. The Silver course still offers players a challenge, but provides more real estate to accommodate the occasional slice or hook off the tee.
Course Rating: 71.4
The more challenging of the two Treasure Lake courses, the Gold course is much narrower and much less forgiving than its counterpart.
Featured in Golf Digest as “one of the best and most affordable courses in PA”, the Gold course demands accuracy off the tee and well… pretty much everywhere else as well.
To set up a tee time call (814) 913-1480 for the Silver course and (814) 913-1482 for the Gold course, or visit TreasureLakePOA.com