Best public golf courses in Philadelphia
In the 19th century, Philadelphia was one of the most influential cities in American life. It has a lot of places to visit and historical facts that’ll teleport you to the past. Despite the things it had going on, the city built a good foundation for golfing over the century. Today, it has a good infrastructure of public and private golf courses you should experience.
Private golf courses feel like little heavens on Earth. But some public golf courses do too. I’ve prepared a list of these public heavens in Philadelphia to guide your golfing experience.
Top 10 public golf courses in Philadelphia
The Golf Course at Glen Mills
The Golf Course at Glen Mills is right outside Thornton. Decades ago, Thornton was a rest stop between Philadelphia and York. Because of its role in history, this village was added to the National Register of Historic Places list in 2007.
The course was designed and built by Bobby Weed with the help of Scot Sherman in 2000. The duo designed the course to be a beautiful yet challenging course that has consistently made it to the Top Public Courses in PA by Golf Advisor.
The course starts with four open golf holes and gradually increases in difficulty, with wetlands, tight fairways, snaking streams, and bunkers coming into play. The highlight of your experience on the course will be wildlife randomly popping at different corners. It’s made even more special by the fact that you rarely find such scenes in Delaware County.
Aside from being a popular public course, The Golf Course at Glen Mills runs a free junior golf program for troubled youth in the community.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort
The Omni Bedford Springs Resort is the home of one of the oldest golf courses in the US. The history of the Old Course dates back to 1895, when it was built by Spencer Oldham. It has since been renovated by A.W Tillinghast in 1916, Donald Ross in 1924, and Ron Forse in 2007.
Despite these renovations, the original flair and ingenuity in the 18-hole course design from the 19th century shines through. The par-3 fourth hole (the Volcano) is a perfect example. The Volcano is 223 yards long, and its green is elevated 30 feet above the teeing ground, making it difficult to find the green. Although the hole can be a pain, the experience it affords players isn’t found in many courses.
Over the years, it’s won several awards from Golf Adviser, including being named a ‘Top Course in Pennsylvania’ and Top 25 Course Conditions in the US.
Pitman Golf Course
Pitman Golf Course is found in Sewell, New Jersey, only 27 minutes from Philadelphia. The club was built in 1927 by Alexander Findlay, a Scottish and American golfer. It was a nine-hole course then, but it has since been expanded to a 6,480-yard 18-hole golf course.
Currently, the all-year-round golf course has three sets of tees, Blue, white, and Red (W), which accommodate players of all levels. Although the greens are tiny, the course is playable, and you can recover from poor shots well.
Golden Pheasant Golf Club
The Golden Pheasant Golf Club is a semi-private golf course located in Burlington County, only 34 minutes from Philadelphia. If you’re searching for a course that’s in good shape and won’t drain you, this is it. Stephen Kay and Doug Smith designed and built the course in 1963. They built it 6,000 yards long with four tees starting from 5105 yards and a slope rating of 114.
The traditional course winds through a picturesque view with several elevation changes that add to its fun. With its 68.6 ratings, you can complete the course in under four hours. I found the front nine to be the weakest on the course, with some holes being a little repetitive and positioned side by side.
Overall, it’s a friendly and fun course that deserves its award by the Burlington County Times as the number one course in Burlington County.
RiverWinds Golf & Tennis Club
The RiverWinds Golf & Tennis Club is a premier West Deptford, New Jersey facility that offers a challenging and enjoyable golfing experience for players of all skill levels. The course was designed by a renowned golf course designer, Ed Shearon in 2002 and features 18 holes of championship golf, over 7,000 yards long.
The course is hidden in the grasslands between the deep harbor marina on the Delaware River and Woodbury Creek. Its positioning affords it breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.
The course has four sets of tees that are 5301 to 7072 yards long. Six holes are close to the wetland by the river, while a number of the others flirt with the lakes.
The mounding on the fairways isn’t prevalent on the front nine but on the back nine. The change adds some difficulty in the play of what would have been a straight shot. Fortunately, the fairways are forgiving, making this course ideal for drivers.
Jeffersonville Golf Club
Jeffersonville Golf Club is an 18-hole public course owned by West Norriton Township. But before 1971, it was under the Evans Family. In the late 19th century, the Land where the Jeffersonville Golf Club stands was used for horse racing. But in 1919, it was acquired by Anton Evans, who later discontinued the racing and turned it into a golf course with the help of Donald Ross.
Although it still had its historic charm, Jeffersonville was run down and was ready for renovation in 2000. So the management called in Ron Richard, an architect who specializes in renovating the work of Donald Ross. The modernization project involved re-adding 40 bunkers and rebuilding tee boxes on the holes.
At $68, you can enjoy this course all year round.
Scotland Run Golf Club
Scotland Run Golf Club is located in Williamstown, New Jersey, just 20 minutes from Philadelphia. It’s known for its unique links-style design that pays homage to the golf courses of Scotland. The design is attributed to Stephen Kay and Doug Smith, who challenged themselves to build the course in an old sand quarry by Stephen Kay and Doug Smith in 1999.
In addition to the design, the huge bunkers, water hazards, and forced carries to make the course a must-play. To affirm its beauty and the experience it gives, Golf Advisor named it in their ‘Top Courses in New Jersey’ in 2021, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Rock Manor Golf Course
Rock Manor Golf Course is not in Philadelphia but in Wilmington, Delaware, approximately 30 miles south of Philadelphia. It is a public golf course built in 1937, offering 18 holes of championship golf, with a par of 71 and a length of 6,405 yards, a significant increase from 5,779 yards before its renovation in 2008 by Lester George.
Although 6,405 yards isn’t the longest course we’ve experienced, the Rock Manor has some redeeming features, like a mix of open fairways and a blind tee shot. Unlike other courses, there’s little water in play, but you must account for the lake on two holes.
Turtle Creek Golf Course
With Turtle Creek Golf Course constantly getting rated one of the top courses in PA by Golf Advisor, it has earned a spot on the list. Like most courses we’ve listed, Turtle Creek Golf Course is a few minutes’ drive from Philadelphia (in Limerick).
The course was built in 1997 by a renowned golf course architect, Ed Biedel. Ed Biedel has been a part of over 240 projects, and his skill shone through in creating Turtle Creek. He built this course on 200 acres of farmland, giving it an open and exposed look. Only a few holes will get you to the wooded region, which makes the course forgiving.
Note: The course opens on 3/01 and closes on 11/24.
Deerfield Golf Club is found in Newark, Delaware, only 45 minutes from Philadelphia. The course was built by William F. Gordon in 1955 on 145 acres and is nicknamed ‘natural treasure.’ One of the course’s best parts is the ancient white Clay Creek State Park forest surrounding it.
The 6323-yard golf course is covered in bent grass and rolling terrain, which adds to its beauty. The distinctive and memorable holes add to the challenge making it an even better experience.
Although many of these courses aren’t in Philadelphia, they are a few minutes away and worth the trip. Bear in mind that not all are playable all year round, and the costs vary, so you should factor that in before making the trip.
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