Set within an attractive valley between the Laurel and Chestnut Ridge Mountains, the Laurel Valley golf course was originally designed by Dick Wilson in 1959 but later modified by one the club’s founding fathers, west-Pennsylvania native Arnold Palmer.
Built on a swampy hunting estate, the areas in close proximity to the elevated clubhouse occupy nicely undulating ground, but much of the course is routed across a small public road on land that is quite flat. Palmer, and his design associate Ed Seay, started adjusting the Wilson holes during the 1980s, the pair’s most significant alterations were to the 10th green and the rerouting of the par three 17th and the long par five 11th, which once bent right but now follows an elevated plateau and dives to the left. They also stretched the 18th to a par five and pushed its green closer to a pond. Throughout the rest of the course, greens and fairways were subtly reshaped with the flatter holes generally more heavily bunkered.
Despite these changes working reasonably well, the course suffers a little from the contrasting design styles and is still hurt by the lack of interesting terrain. Aside from the holes heading back toward the clubhouse, and a brief stretch through the inward nine that runs alongside a heavily treed ridge, the best moments include the cross-pond approach into the 7th and the right-bending par four 10th, which follows a stream toward a green pressed against the water.
Laurel Valley is a very pleasant golf club that has fine amenities and fairways that are generally kept in super condition. Although the abundant plantings of the early members have helped to delineate holes and enhance the parkland nature of the experience, the course itself is fairly unremarkable.
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