On the road less traveled, the wandering golfer often encounters the hidden gems of courses. As the weather forecast for March 7th predicted sun and sixty degrees for central Pennsylvania, our thoughts turned to what a friend termed “a great little club” and we set forth to play Williamsport Country Club, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Williamsport Country Club is an A.W. Tillinghast design and is a wonderful time capsule of golden age golf course architecture. While the yardage may not seem all that intimidating at 6,514 yards, the course is by all means championship caliber. A well designed course takes advantage of the natural terrain, and Williamsport is a prime example of the designer allowing ground features to reveal strategic routing. The holes take full advantage of the elevation changes and many of the holes play much longer than the yardage indicates. In addition to the great use of elevation changes, the green contours require a good deal of thinking and its quite easy to get out of position. The green complexes are very characteristic of Tillinghast as the majority of the greens slope from back to front, have major tilting high flashes around the edges and feature a mixture of dramatic and subtle false fronts. If you aren’t careful, the chances of putting it right off the front of the green are very good. All in all, you won’t finish your round feeling like you played a short yardage course, because in order to score well you have to hit a wide variety of shots and use all sorts of strategy to be well positioned on the greens. Williamsport Country Club provides a true and fun test of golf that requires a good deal of punch, but a greater degree of strategic thinking.
It was a great start to the 2012 golf season here in central Pennsylvania. While we had always known about the Club, details were few and our research revealed few insights. Thanks to my fellow teammate and his father the superintendent, Paul Krout, together with the wondefully accommodating head professional, Chris Macdonald, we were welcomed with open arms. Despite being the beginning of March and the fact that much of the grass was still dormant, the course was in excellent condition. We learned first hand from Paul Krout that great conditions have long been Williamsport’s calling card. We were told that the greens speeds average about 11.5 on the stimp throughout the summer and on any given day the course could host a championship event. This year it will play host to the Pennsylvania Mid-Am and the Pennsylvania Girls Junior Championships.
Williamsport C.C. has sought to restore and renovate its course in keeping with Tillinghast’s design. Although Tillinghast undertook to redesign WCC’s original 1909 nine-hole course and create a new nine, the course is unmistakably a Tillie design. The Club engaged Forse Design to undertake a study of the course and develop a long range Master Plan. Ron Forse employed his usual high energy and exhaustive research tools to formulate a plan keeping with Tillinghast’s intent. The results of Forse’s work are terrific, most notabliy the outstanding bunkering on holes 7 through 15 with holes eight and thirteen being of particular allure.
A visit to Williamsport C.C. is a pure pleasure and any outing to the Club will certainly provide a wonderful day of golf by the wonderful team of Pro, Chris Macdonald, and Superintendant, Paul Krout.