The Best Modern Course in Pittsburgh
The Club at Nevillewood, located just south of Pittsburgh, was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in the early 1990’s. It is clearly the best modern golf course in the area and ranks up there in the overall best courses in the City. Golf Digest ranks it in the Top 25 in the State, which is debatable given the number of great courses not included in their ranking. Nonetheless, its a great layout in a beautiful setting.
There are two other ‘modern’ courses that were built in Pittsburgh during the same timeframe. Diamond Run Golf Club was designed by Gary Player and opened in 1993 and Treesdale Golf & Country Club was designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 1994. Both are similar concepts to Nevillewood as they are upscale residential communities built around golf courses. Diamond Run is a quality course and I would rank it far ahead of Treesdale, but well behind Nevillewood based on overall routing and experience. Treesdale is a beautiful community but the course lacks character and variety, the only bonus being that it has 27 holes.
Nevillewood has many redeeming qualities but the overall takeaway is that it’s a fair course with the ability to challenge the best players and accommodate all skill levels at the same time. With many teeing options and wide fairways, it can be played any number of ways. The approach shots are the biggest challenge throughout the round as the greens are large and well guarded by either bunkers or water hazards. Also, the subtle slopes allow for many different pin placements. This combined with a wide variety of teeing options on most holes allows for a lot of flexibility in course setup – a quality that I rate very highly given my interest in George Thomas Jr.’s architecture and his focus on variety.
A great example of the theme throughout the round can be found on the first hole. The tee shot is uphill with a wide fairway closely guarded on the left by trees. The downhill approach shot is to a punchbowl-like green sloping back to front. The further you get to the top of the hill on the tee shot, the more narrow the fairway becomes and the easier the approach shot is. The shorter the drive, the wider the fairway but the the approach becomes blind. It’s a short but strategic hole.
Highlights include the 11h and 17th holes, both par-4’s that are generous but demanding. The 11th hole winds around to the left with bunkering left and right off the the to a small and narrow green. The 17th hole makes great use of the natural landscape with an uphill tee shot and a severe downhill approach to a tiered green.
Overall, the conditions, layout and setting make the overall experience unique and enjoyable. The beautiful clubhouse, surrounding views and challenging course are what sets it apart.