Situated along the Conestoga River in Lancaster, Pennsylvania sits Conestoga Country Club, a challenging golf course designed by golf course architect William Gordon who is also known for his work at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At only 6,400 yards, Conestoga CC presents plenty of challenges for golfers of all skill levels. A careful strategy is required throughout the round as positioning off of the tee is essential to scoring. After glancing at the scorecard before seeing the course, one would immediately think that a 6,400 yard course would make for short and easy holes, but that is definitely not the case at Conestoga as many of the holes are doglegs that require long irons off of tees and approaches to small, well guarded greens.
The opening hole is a short reachable par-5 that can jumpstart your round but a well positioned tee shot is essential. The approach is to an elevated green and depending on the pin location can be difficult to get close to. This is why a well positioned tee shot and good second shot will allow for a much easier approach or putt for eagle, making birdie more of a possibility. The second is the first of four par-3’s and is a challenging uphill hole to an undulating and well protected green. After a leisurely start to the round with a short par-5, players now have to get serious if they want to come away even par after the first two holes as the second is quite a challenge.
The fourth hole is a sharp dogleg left that requires careful positioning off of the tee or a dangerous shot over the dogleg. A long iron or 3-wood off of the tee will leave about 150 yards into a well elevated, undulating green. This sixth is another tricky dogleg that winds to the right up the hill into a back to front, two-tiered green. Again, positioning off the tee is important as the approach requires a great deal of accuracy. The ninth hole is another challenging hole as the Conestoga River comes into play off of the tee. A lay up short of the River has to be a strategic one as a large tree sits on the right side of the fairway. The safe play is a shot out to the left of the tree but players looking to have a shorter approach to the green will take the aggressive line either right at the tree or just right of it. All in all, the front nine is a real challenge as it puts a premium on strategy & long-iron accuracy.
The back nine gets off to a similar start as the front does with a par-5 followed by a par-3. The tenth is the only other par-5 on the course besides the first and is another short hole that puts a premium on the tee shot. The Conestoga River is very much in play as it winds down the left side of the fairway. For longer hitters, laying up off of the tee is a smart play as the fairway narrows to less than 10 yards with the River left and a bunker right. A lay up and good second will leave less than 150-yards into another elevated and undulating green. While it may be short, it is by no means an easy hole. Holes 12, 13 and 14 are possibly the toughest stretch of par-4’s on the course. The twelfth is a great hole that requires a tee shot down the left side in order to have a good angle into the green. The closer you get to the inside of the dogleg, the more likely you’ll be blocked out so it’s essential to be down the left. The thirteenth hole is the No. 2 handicap hole that winds around to the left. The tee shot is difficult because it doglegs hard to the left right away and is easy to get out of position off of the tee. A well positioned shot still leaves 150+ yards uphill to the green. The Conestoga River doesn’t come into play off of the tee because of the dogleg but adds to the beauty of the hole.
The fourteenth completes the tough stretch of par-4’s as it is a straight away tee shot and then a slight downhill approach into a small well guarded green. A drive down the right side of the fairway will roll into the middle or left fairway making for a good angle into the hole but a drive too far right or left will leave a very tough angle. Two good shots are required to hit this green in regulation.The seventeenth hole is a great downhill dogleg right with a great green that sits at the bottom of the hill, in my mind I think that this would be a great finishing hole as it gives players the option to either bomb driver down the right side or lay up down the middle. A good drive down the right can make for some excitement as it could end up close to the green but a lay up leaves about 150 yards in making for a difficult hole.
All in all, Conestoga Country Club is a great golf course and a tough test of golf despite its short yardage. The holes are well routed and they take full advantage of the natural terrain and it benefits from the Conestoga River which runs through the middle of the property which adds a great deal of difficulty and beauty. With long, challenging par threes, a variety of dogleg par 4s and two short but challenging par-5’s players will likely never play the course the same way every time. If you’re looking to take it low your first time out, chances are you’ll have to have done your homework and execute a careful strategy. Come prepared to shape your shots and think your way around the course, and you’ll be in good shape.