Founded in 1908, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Country Club moved to its present location a few miles south-west of Allentown in 1928, when a new course designed by William Flynn first opened for play. Set beside the Little Lehigh Creek, much of the layout is routed across a lush, rolling ledge but the property also features a sunken creekside valley, which Flynn skilfully incorporated into both nines.
Flynn did a great job building this golf course, creating some interesting side-hill holes and instilling tremendous variety into his putting surfaces. Complicating play is the fact that the targets are often tilted more severely than they appear. The highlight of the course, however, is the routing, and the manner in which the holes are arranged across what is a steep and fairly difficult site. A number of holes plunge into or across the attractive basin area, such as the par three 7th which drops almost 100 feet over the creek to a green pressed hard against the hazard, or the mid-length 4th, which falls from the upper ledge over the water but then rises into a beautiful green site benched into an opposing ridge. Both the 12th and 13th head along the flat ground beside the creek, while the preceding hole is a riotous par five that slings right-to-left from the tee and then crashes dramatically down into the valley. Away from the water, better features include the big shoulder on the left side of the 3rd green, the narrow fronted 5th green and a fine front-to-back target on the downhill 10th.
Lehigh doesn’t really have any world-class golf holes, but 1 through 18 is about as strong and consistent as anything in the Flynn portfolio. Pleasingly, the club has resisted the trend toward narrowing its fairways and strengthening its holes, leaving admirers of classic golf architecture to enjoy what remains a strategic and relevant test of golf.