Aronimink Golf Club

Aronimink Golf Club – Played August 2017

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #80, Golf Magazine #82
  • Location: 3600 St. Davids Road, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
  • Year: 1928
  • Original Architect: Donald Ross
  • Additional Work By: Robert Trent Jones, Ron Prichard, and Gil Hanse
  • Course Access: Private
  • Walking Rules: Walking Only, Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Back: 7,190 yards, Par 70, 74.7 Rating/134 Slope
  • Middle: 6,522 yards, Par 70, 72.3 Rating/129 Slope
  • Forward: 6,115 yards, Par 70, 70.3 Rating/126 Slope
  • Front: 5,769 yards, Par 70, 74.6 Rating/136 Slope

I still never get over the excitement of being invited to top-tier private clubs.  There is a “kid on Christmas morning” feel to it that I just can’t shake.  So when I got an email from my buddy Alex that he had an extra spot in his group I jumped at the chance.

Now, our tee time was on a Saturday afternoon.  Aronimink is outside of Philadelphia and I live in SC.  So I did what I do on this crazy quest.  I hopped in the car and made my way towards Philly.  As an aside, Go Pats but still congrats to the Eagles.  They played great.

Funny enough, a lot of the quest goes like this.  I would love to tell a super interesting story every time or play 10 courses in a row.  Life doesn’t always work that way though.  Many times I get an invite, play, and head home.  Sometimes, depending on the situation, I will check out the clubhouse or eat.  It really depends on my host and the group I am playing with.  I am definitely one to go with the flow and if that includes skipping the frills so be it.  I’m here for the golf!

So after a pretty uneventful drive that was full of anticipation I arrived at the course.  You are greeted with the wonderful looking clubhouse seen below.

I met up with Alex, his brother, and our fourth Jon to get ready for the round.  I stuck to the putting green, but I am assured the practice facility is top notch.  The locker room (seen below) is super cool and has a great vibe.

The history of the club is quite rich.  From a playing standpoint it has hosted the 1962 PGA Championship, 1977 US Amateur, 1997 US Junior Amateur, 2003 Senior PGA, 2010/2011 AT&T National, and will host the 2018 BMW Championship.

The course also spawned John McDermott who became the first American born golfer to win the US Open in 1911.  The club was officially founded in 1900 and moved around to a few sites before settling on their current spot in 1926.  It was at this time that they commissioned Donald Ross to lay out 18 holes for them.  He set out to test players on their long iron play.  That may not be as true today, but the course provides plenty of challenge while still remaining fun.

Since then it has been recently restored by Gil Hanse.  His work shows up the most in the revamped bunkering.  Jon mentioned to us that it was night and day from when he had played pre-renovation.

With views like the one below you can’t help but like the place.  I had this picture framed and it is hanging in my house now 🙂

Let’s get into the round.  We played the blue tees.

Hole 1 – 414 yards – Par 4 – Apache

There is no gentleman’s handshake to start the day.  The fairway is wide enough, but the hole is long and plays straight uphill.  Drives won’t get much roll.

The approach continues up the hill.  From the lowest point of this fairway it is quite a hike.  The green is open in front, but you’d need a real heater to roll it up there.  Beware of shots spinning too much.

The green angles right to left when viewed from the fairway.  You can also see the small runoff areas behind and too the side.

Hole 2 – 372 yards – Par 4 – Pueblo

I didn’t mention on the first hole, but they are all named.  The naming comes from the Native American culture as does the club’s name.

This hole requires the correct line and the help of a good caddie.  If you go too far left you can get hung up in the rough.  Driver isn’t necessarily the play.

As you make the turn left the green comes into view.  Plenty of space in front, but both sides and long are not to be messed with.

The green presents some phenomenal contouring, especially on the right side.

Hole 3 – 416 yards – Par 4 – Navajo

This is a slight dogleg left, but overall plays straight.  At this distance a long, straight drive is the goal.  There are bunkers out there, but due to the slope they are somewhat hidden.

This is where Hanse’s bunker work starts to shine.  The green looks surrounded by sand, but most of these are not close to the surface.  They are visual obstacles.

As you can see below, nothing fronts the green.  Long is dead here.

Hole 4 – 418 yards – Par 4 – Seminole

This longer hole plays to a blind landing area.  Tee shots should favor the right side to avoid the fairway bunker on the left.

The approach plays slightly downhill.  Stay away from the bunker on the right.

The green has some good slope to it as you can see below.

Hole 5 – 149 yards – Par 3 – Mohawk

This little hole can sneak up and bite you.  In theory, the shortness should allow most players to hit the green easily.  If you miss though there is plenty of sand.  The bunkers are deep and challenging.

The green has plenty of typical Ross slope that will make putting interesting.

The photo below gives you an idea of how far below the green the bunkers are.

Hole 6 – 381 yards – Par 4 – Comanche

This dogleg right plays a bit longer than the yardage due to the uphill slope.  The bunkers on the right are in play, but can be carried.

I found one of them on my tee shot and the view below was what I faced.

You can see the green contours below.  A large mound on the front left and one on the back are clearly visible.

Hole 7 – 376 yards – Par 4 – Shawnee

This is another blind landing area.  The hole doglegs a good bit to the right and you can run out of fairway.

The second shot plays a bit downhill.  The front bunker is quite large and I imagine a popular spot.

The green has subtle contouring seen from this view behind the green.  You can also see the slope of the fairway down to the green.

Hole 8 – 204 yards – Par 3 – Sitting Bull

This is probably the hardest one shot hole on the property.  It is a long shot playing to a very shallow green.  The elevation of the tee makes club selection difficult.  The two large front bunkers are well below the putting surface.

Here is a closer look walking up to the green.

You can see below the mound in the middle of the green as well as the runoff area behind.  A par here is a great accomplishment.

Hole 9 – 517 yards – Par 5 – Kickapoo

The ninth offers your first shot at a par five.  Due to the severe uphill slope the hole plays longer than the yardage.  The fairway cambers to the right making fading shots likely to end up in the rough.

The view as you walk up the fairway.

The approach shot is even more uphill.  Spinning shots may come back off of the green.

The green here is one of the flattest on the course.  It offers perhaps the best opportunity to hole a putt.  Take advantage.

Hole 10 – 411 yards – Par 4 – Cherokee

This one is a tough tee shot.  The bunker and trees on the right make an approach difficult from that side.  The left side runs downhill quickly and has thick rough.

Approach shots from the left have to carry the water hazard which is a daunting task.  This green reminded me somewhat of the 11th at Augusta.

The runoff area to the right of the green is expansive and provides plenty of options for recovery shots.  I loved the look from this side of the green.

The view from the back really shows the slope of the green.  There is a lot more than it looks from all the other angles.

Hole 11 – 388 yards – Par 4 – Kiowea

I got a little picture happy on this hole, but it was worth it.  Hanse’s bunkers really stand out here.  The fairway bunkers on both sides are firmly in play.

The approach is uphill and must navigate numerous bunkers.  Shots coming up short will roll back down the hill.

The two photos below from an adjacent hole really shows the full scope of the bunkers.

The green slopes severely.  If you don’t find the correct area of the green balls will roll away from the pin quite a bit.

The view below gives the full expanse of the hole.

Hole 12 – 420 yards – Par 4 – Saginaw

Your tee shot plays downhill here to increase distance, but you lose that on the uphill approach.  There is plenty of room in this fairway though so swing away.

This is another difficult pin position.  Shots missing left will run down a hill away from the green.

The slope is pronounced here from the left side of the green to the right (where I’m standing).  From this angle putts will have to negotiate the large ridge to the right of the flag.

Hole 13 – 351 yards – Par 4 – Blackfoot

The course gives you a break here with a birdie opportunity.  Driver can leave you with a short wedge shot, but shorter clubs are options as well.

The green is guarded by a couple bunkers.  Long is not a good miss.

Below you can see the raised, flat portion on the right side of the green.  The putting surface extends back to the left.

Hole 14 – 188 yards – Par 3 – Iroquois

This may have been the nastiest pin position we saw all day.  It’s a sucker pin for sure.  Deep bunkers guard the green.

You can see the slope of the green below.  3/4 of our group short-sided themselves.  Not a good idea!

Hole 15 – 426 yards – Par 4 – Lenape

This is a long brute of a hole.  The fairway angles down from right to left.  A big drive is needed, but you need to avoid the fairway bunkers down the right.

The approach plays slightly uphill to a green that is open in front.  Deep bunkers run down the left side.

One of the flattest greens on the course will reward a good shot with a makeable putt.  There is some more slope on the right side, but that’s about it.

Hole 16 – 512 yards – Par 5 – Sioux

The only other par five is the better birdie chance.  The right side of the fairway provides the best angle to approach the green.

Here is the angle from the right side.  The bunkers on the right side should be avoided on the lay up.  The opening into the green is very narrow.

The green is slightly elevated and guarded by deep bunkers on either side.  The bunkers look like they’ve been there forever.

The view from behind reveals the slope of the green not seen from the fairway.  Shots missing the center will roll off on all sides.

Hole 17 – 179 yards – Par 3 – Seneca

This water feature is a bit out of character for the rest of the course, but I didn’t mind it.  It isn’t really in play.  The deep bunkers on the right are more important in my mind.

Below you can see the green is bisected into two tiers.  This front pin offers a backstop behind and probably yields the most birdies.

Hole 18 – 400 yards – Par 4 – Aronimink

The final hole will make you work for a score.  The bunkers up the right are the main challenge.  A power fade works best here.

The approach shot plays back into the awesome view of the expansive clubhouse.  Avoid dumping your shot into the front bunker.

The putting surface is quite large and has multiple swales throughout.

Below you can see the extent of the contours.  Putts will bend quite a bit along these humps.

I can’t say enough good things about this course.  It is tough enough to host the pros, but incredibly fun.  The course is infinitely playable.  The greens are prototypical Ross charm with slope galore.  The rough penalized you, but was not impossible.  If you choose the correct set of tees the round will be very enjoyable.  The conditioning was great and the company even better.

As an added bonus, we got to hang out for a drink on the terrace at the clubhouse.  Being able to discuss the course with new friends was a great experience.  I loved my day here.  Congrats to Gil Hanse on the renovation.  The members of Aronimink should be proud of their club.

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4 thoughts on “Aronimink Golf Club

  1. Jimmy

    What a great review. The pictures were outstanding. What I liked about the course is the bunkering! They were everywhere, but now unfairly placed. I would love to play this course, it looks like great fun!


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