Pine Valley Golf Club
The par-four 17th
|Location||Pine Valley, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Tournaments hosted||Walker Cup (1936, 1985)|
|Designed by||George Arthur Crump, Harry Colt, Charles Hugh Alison, A. W. Tillinghast, Perry Maxwell|
|Length||7181 (championship tees)|
Pine Valley Golf Club is a golf course in Pine Valley, Camden County, in southern New Jersey. It was ranked the number one course in Golf Magazine's 100 Top Courses in the U.S. and the World in 2012, 2015, and 2019. It is a private club, and non-members can play only if invited and accompanied by a member.
Pine Valley was founded in 1913 by a group of amateur golfers from Philadelphia. They purchased 184 acres (0.7 km²) of rolling, sandy ground deep in the pinelands of southern New Jersey, and gave George Arthur Crump, who knew the area from hunting expeditions, the opportunity to design the course.
The site was challenging and the project became something of an obsession for Crump, who sold his hotel in Philadelphia and plowed his money into the course. Marshlands had to be drained and 22,000 tree stumps had to be pulled with special steam-winches and horse-drawn cables. This was all done at a time when many golf courses were still built with minimal earth moving, and the course was called "Crump's Folly" by some.
This was Crump's first and only golf course design, but he brought together celebrated architects such as A.W. Tillinghast, Hugh Wilson, George C. Thomas Jr., Walter Travis, and H.S. Colt to help him create the course. Crump set himself some idiosyncratic principles: no hole should be laid out parallel to the next; no more than two consecutive holes should play in the same direction; and players shouldn't be able to see any hole other than the one they were playing. He also felt that a round of golf on his course should require a player to use every club in the bag.
The first eleven holes opened unofficially in 1914. In 1918, when Crump died - reportedly penniless, four holes - #12, #13, #14, #15 - were incomplete; they were finished in 1922.
Pine Valley later spread to 623 acres (2.5 km²), of which 416 acres (1.7 km²) remain virgin woodland. Since Crump's death, alterations have been made by several other leading golf course designers. The club also has a ten-hole short course designed by Tom Fazio and Ernest Ransome III.
Although it is rich in golf tradition, the clubhouse is plain, and simple. The clubhouse consists of the great room and the bar. There is also the pro shop, several dining rooms, the main dining room, the private board room, and the patio. There are numerous pictures of Crump, as well as much history and antique golf memorabilia. Upstairs are member's lockers, several guest rooms, and a small lounge named the John Arthur Brown room.
The club offers shuttle service to and from the Philadelphia International Airport. Camden County Airport (19N) is also available to corporate aircraft located only one mile East with club shuttle service available. There are several places to stay for out of town people, such as the six cottages, the annex, the dorm, the new lodge that was built in 2006, the centennial house built in 2012, as well as some older homes used for lodging.
Pine Valley Slope, Rating, and Yardage as of 2010
In "The Complete Golfer," course architect Robert Trent Jones wrote that Pine Valley "is frequently alluded to as the most difficult course in the world, and this reputation is justified. To my way of thinking, it also possesses more classic holes than any other course in the world." Johnny Miller wrote that "There are no weak holes. Every single one is a masterpiece. There is a surprise around every corner, 18 unique and beautiful challenges."
Pine Valley is a difficult golf course; every year at the Crump Cup, the best mid-amateur and senior players rarely match or break par in stroke play qualifying. There are no rakes at Pine Valley; the sandy areas and bunkers found throughout the course are true hazards. There is no out of bounds at all, and structures including the clubhouse are considered "through the green".
The course has a consistent level of challenge and conditioning on each hole, requiring thoughtful placement of the ball from tee to green, and more specifically correct placement on approach shots to the green due to significant swales and undulations. Pine Valley has one of the best collections of par fives and par threes in the world. The course prides itself in being one of the toughest challenges in all of golf, with a slope of 155 from the championship tees.
Pine Valley's trademarks are the par three 5th hole, which requires a well-placed 220 yard slightly uphill drive over a lake into a small and sloped green, "Hell's half acre" (a barren wasteland on the par five 7th hole which is probably the largest non sea-side bunker in the world), "The devil's asshole" (an extremely deep bunker on the par three 10th hole), and the par four 18th, which incorporates many different elements of the golf course into a spectacular[weasel words] finishing hole.
Pine Valley Golf Club is a highly exclusive club. Male-only membership is by invitation only from the board of directors. The only way a guest is allowed into the club is if they are invited and accompanied by a member. Women are permitted to play the course on Sunday afternoons.
There are about 930 members spread throughout the world, and the list is a closely guarded secret. Notable members of the club have included George H. W. Bush, Sean Connery, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Fazio, Bob Hope, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Connie Mack, Bob McNair, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Roger Goodell, Dan Quayle, Brian L. Roberts, Jay Sigel, Jeffrey Lurie, George C. Thomas, Jr., and A. W. Tillinghast.
Tournaments at Pine Valley
Although it is regarded as one of the greatest courses in the world, Pine Valley has not played host to any major professional golf tournaments, mostly because there is not enough room on the course to accommodate tens of thousands of spectators. The club has stated that they have no intentions to remove trees or change the layout of the course in order to host a major tournament.
The only time Pine Valley ever had mainstream exposure was a 1962 Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match between Gene Littler and Byron Nelson. The club does allow the public in for one day in late September every year to watch the Crump Cup, a nationally recognized tournament featuring elite mid-amateur players.
The Crump Cup is an invitational golf tournament for amateurs. The first tournament was held in 1922. It is named for George Arthur Crump, and is played on the grounds of Pine Valley Golf Club, which Crump founded. The format for the four days is two rounds of stroke play, qualifying, followed by four rounds of match play. The final round has traditionally held on the last Sunday in September. Jay Sigel has won the event the most times, with nine victories between 1975 and 1993.
Since at least the 1970s, the public can, on the day of the final round, tour the golf course and view tournament play. This is the only day each year on which the public has access to the grounds of the club. Visitors park at the nearby Clementon Amusement Park, where a local youth athletic association charges $25 per car. Yellow school buses then take fans on a five-minute ride down a secluded side road, away from amusement park, and unload in a gravel parking lot in the woods. Visitors are not allowed to bring in cameras, video recorders, or cell phones.
Awards and Rankings
Pine Valley Awards and Rankings
|1985-2000||Golf Digest||#1 - America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses|
|2003-2008||Golf Digest||#1 - America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses|
|2003||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the United States|
|2005||Golfweek Magazine||Best (pre-1960) Golf Course in the United States|
|2005||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the United States|
|2007||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the World|
|2009||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the United States|
|2009||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the World|
|2011||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the United States|
|2011||Golf Magazine||Best Golf Course in the World|
|2013-2014||Golf Digest||#1 - America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses|
|2015-2016||Golf Digest||#2 - America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses|
|2017-2020||Golf Digest||#1 - America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses|
- "Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. and the World". Golf Magazine. September 14, 2009. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- Matuszewski, Erik (September 14, 2017). "Attention, Golfers: Here's Your Chance To Visit Pine Valley". Forbes. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- Steinhardt, Avid (July 19, 2012). "You'll Never Play Golf Here". NJ.com -. Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- D'Amato, Gary (June 4, 2013). "Fairways and dreams: Pine Valley Course a duffer's paradise". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- Miller, Johnny; Yocom, Guy (May 11, 2004). I Call the Shots. Penguin. p. 120. ISBN 9781101216606.
- "Is the Crump Cup the Best Tournament in Amateur Golf?". AmateurGolf.com. September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
- Weinberg, David (October 31, 2009). "No course on a par with Pine Valley". Atlantic City Press.
- Fensom, Michael J. (25 May 2012). "You'll Never Play Golf Here." Inside Jersey.
- Sens, Josh (February 18, 2015). "This Weekend Anyone Can Tour the World's No. 1 Course". GOLF.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- Matuszewski, Erik (September 18, 2009). "Pine Valley, Golf's 'Slice of Heaven,' Opens Gates to Public". Bloomberg.com.
- Shaner, Todd (August 26, 2010). "Crump Cup: Walk the Valley Sept. 12". Courier-Post.
- Giordano, Paul (September 2000). "Pine Valley opens gates to public". Courier-Post.
- Matuszewski, Erik (September 21, 2009). "Pine Valley Lures New Jersey's Weekend Golfers to No. 1 Course". Bloomberg.com.
- Matuszewski, Erik (September 1, 2018). "Pine Valley Opens Gates To Public Again: Get The 2018 Crump Cup Details". Forbes. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- "Pine Valley Golf Club". golflink.com.
- Golf Club Atlas - a well illustrated course guide
- Into Pine Valley - An account of the Crump Cup
- Aerial photos
- Aerial view of Pine Valley, 1938 - From the Dallin Aerial Survey Company