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 🙂
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.
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.
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 longer hole plays to a blind landing area. Tee shots should favor the right side to avoid the fairway bunker on the left.
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.
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.
This is another blind landing area. The hole doglegs a good bit to the right and you can run out of fairway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This may have been the nastiest pin position we saw all day. It’s a sucker pin for sure. Deep bunkers guard the green.
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 only other par five is the better birdie chance. The right side of the fairway provides the best angle to approach the green.
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.
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.
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.