Each year, golf publications of all shapes and sizes offer their rankings of the best golf clubs in the United States. From the world’s most exclusive courses to daily fee tracks, golf resort destinations, municipal layouts, university courses and everything in between, the best of the best are examined, discussed and ranked by industry experts. But which golf club is the most desirable in the U.S.?
Pine Valley Golf Club
By many accounts, year in and year out, Pine Valley Golf Club is the most desirable golf club in the states. Courses like Augusta National Golf Club (home of The Masters each April) and Pebble Beach Golf Links are also in the running, so the overall consensus that Pine Valley Golf Club is the cream of the crop should say something about its offerings.
Pine Valley Golf Club is an ultra-exclusive golf club located in southern New Jersey in Camden County. Pine Valley is situated nearby New Jersey’s western border with Pennsylvania — and the city of Philadelphia.
The history of Pine Valley pulls its roots from Philadelphia. The club was founded in 1913 by golfers who resided nearby. The group of amateurs initially purchased 184 acres of the sandy, pine-covered terrain. George Crump was selected to design the golf course, thanks to his knowledge of the area and its rolling terrain from his hunting expeditions there. In a time when many famed golf course designers built numerous legendary tracks, Pine Valley was Crump’s one and only design.
Why Pine Valley Golf Club is so appealing
In the time since its inception, Pine Valley has grown to cover more than 620 acres, including more than 400 that remain undeveloped woodland. This seclusion is what makes Pine Valley so appealing and exclusive. Rarely can non-members see its gates, let alone have the opportunity to play the golf course.
While there have been updates and alterations made to the course in its 100-plus years, much of what Crump designed still remains. When designing the famed course, Crump set out to achieve a handful of simplistic but challenging goals. First and foremost, he refused to have one hole parallel with another. Secondly, he thought that no two consecutive holes should be played in the same direction. He also designed the course to prevent golfers on different holes from seeing each other. Finally, his lasting legacy was designing the course so that each golfer was required to use every club in their bag.
Pine Valley’s green complexes
The course itself is incredibly difficult from tee to green. But, the green complexes are what make Pine Valley, well, Pine Valley.
Like most elite golf courses designed in the early 1900s, an emphasis was put on making the approach to Pine Valley’s greens an extremely difficult task. Whether you’re hitting an approach shot from 120 yards away or chipping from nearby rough, the undulations and difficult green complexes present a flurry of issues for golfers of all skill levels. The course is known well for its collection of par 3s and par 5s — some of the best in the world.
Pine Valley’s membership
Putting the course’s quality aside, what makes Pine Valley Golf Club the most desirable golf club in the U.S. is its exclusiveness. The club admits members by invitation only and even the game’s most notorious players gain access to the course through a member. Its membership is kept very private. But, reports over the years have shown that golf icons Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were part of the membership alongside politicians George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle.
Outsiders do have one chance each year to see the famed layout. Of the handful of outside events the club hosts, its maintains the Crump Cup each and every season. The event is restricted to high-level mid-amateur golfers but its final round is open for public spectators, who park nearby and shuttle onto the golf club’s grounds.
— Ben Larsen