Pine Valley--Clementon, NJ
-Rankings as of 11/3/2015---#1 U.S. Course and #1 Course in the World (Golf Magazine); #1 U.S. Classic Course (Golfweek); #2 U.S Course (Golf Digest)
Pine Valley has long been considered the best course in the world by many golf course architecture enthusiasts. In fact, the great Jim Barnes, winner of 4 major championships from 1916-1925, said, "Pine Valley is the greatest golf course in this country, and I do not know of any course abroad that will compare with it."
Furthermore, Pine Valley's intended purpose as a golf course was to be a test of golf for the finest players in the world. A.W. Tillinghast was quoted in 1913 as saying, "the course will be constructed to furnish an exacting test of golf. It will be no place for the duffer or timid player." And I think the course's founder and visionary, George Crump, saw to it that the design and construction of the course produced exactly that...a world class test.
There are many books that talk about Pine Valley, including the club's history book. And in the world of golf afficiando's, Pine Valley is hallowed ground. In fact I have included the course in my Hall of Fame, as I think it is one of the most important courses ever to be built. I would encourage anyone who is interested in golf, golf courses, and/or golf clubs to read and study all they can about Pine Valley. It design, intent, construction, operations, and history provides many key lessons on how, arguably, the greatest club in the world functions.
As for the course itself, one might say, there are no weak holes. However, I think that statement is too meek and mild. In my opinion, there are no average holes; they are all very good to great. I wish I could show you all the pictures I took of the course, but the photos I took during my round at Pine Valley were lost. However if you dig around the internet, you will find many photos of the golf holes out there.
I will make mention that as I made my way from the first green to the second tee, I was stunned. The 2nd hole is truly incredible. Not only is it visually wonderful, but the demands it asks from your game are intense...and you realize this before you even put your tee in the ground. But what you see, isn't all you get. As you hit your approach shot to a severely elevated and heavily bunkered green, you cannot see the green. And, make no mistake about it, your journey is not over when you reach the green on this hole. Some might even say, it is just beginning.
Another thing that makes the course so amazing, is not just that the quality of the holes are among the finest in the world. But it is the joyful walk that Pine Valley offers. Every hole seems to effortlessly flow from one to the next and the variety of challenges compliment one right after the other. And there are many times when you have that same feeling I described while I stood on the 2nd tee. That feeling of almost overwhelming anticipation of trying to tackle the immense challenge that is lain out in front of you.
In short, Pine Valley's reputation is well earned and well deserved. It is an amazing test of golfing ability and anyone who plays well out there, has, indeed, played well!