Most golf courses are inanimate objects, things of beauty that stand still, waiting for golfers to find the course and their game. This is not the case with Chester Valley Golf Club, which has a history of movement unheard of at any other course I have played.
Once the home of the Smedley and Hatton farmsteads, Chester Valley began with the purchase of the properties in 1928 by the Pennsylvania Railroad Golf Club. Prior to this, the PRGC rented space at Llanarch Golf Club, another historic Philadelphia course.
Swedish fur traders called this area home in the late 17th century, trading beaver pelts with the Native American Lenape and Susquehannock tribes. A hundred years later, Gen. George Washington planned a decisive battle here, which — like many of our golf games — was rained out.
Paid for by the members of the PRGC, who each purchased a $300 bond, the course was open to any director, officer or employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Opening day, Memorial Day 1930, was celebrated with 60 foursomes (55 made up of men and five of women).
Although there is controversy over who designed the original course, most historians agree that it was Perry Maxwell. Maxwell must have rolled over in his grave in 1968 when progress met the course head-on with the construction of Route 202 across the property.
George Fazio redesigned the layout, leaving only a few holes of Maxwell’s original design. Today, the course is a shot-maker’s paradise with rolling hills and a very tight design. I played the course recently with John Ecklund, a past GTee reviewer (The Legends – Moorland Course, July 2008), and Bobby Hancock, our host.
Hole 1 (381 yards, par 4)
This can be a challenging starting hole, as there is a strong tendency to drive your ball too far left. Go way left, and you will be caught under some large willow trees and will need to punch out. Even left on the fairway makes it difficult to reach the green. The best shot is to favor the right, allowing a clean shot to the slightly elevated green which is surrounded by bunkers.
Hole 2 (575 yards, par 5)
Though this is ranked only as the ninth-most difficult hole, I find it quite challenging. It transforms from an uphill monster — you have to drive big to get as close to the crest as possible — into a downhill to the green. The second shot is somewhat blind, as you still have to clear the crest before heading to the smallest green on the course. A short chip shot allows you to land on the green that is surrounded by bunkers. Watch flying the green, as John did; it’s not very friendly back there. This is one of the remaining original holes.
Hole 5 (196 yards, par 3)
From the tee box, this does not look like a particularly difficult hole, but it tends to be my nemesis. John and Bob knocked their tee shots onto the green within 15 feet of the pin. I, on the other hand, decided to make this uphill par 3 more challenging by landing left of the green, leaving me with a downhill chip to the green. I rolled this into the opposing trap and carded a five while my teammates made par. In competitive play, this is a dreaded hole for the pros.
Hole 6 (418 yards, par 4)
No. 1-handicapped Hole 6 can cause plenty of problems. The first is the potential for your drive to find the creek below, which only big hitters like Bobby Hancock have to worry about. His ball landed on the slope into the creek for a difficult shot to the green. Is this the same guy who had a hole-in-one at the K Club in Ireland (GTee, January 2007)?
From your drive, hopefully short of the creek, take your mid-iron to the green, using a little more club, as the hole is uphill. Four large bunkers around the hole add to its difficulty; making par is a real achievement.
Hole 8 (405 yards, par 4)
Reaching this hole in two can be difficult, as the landing area is a strong uphill climb. From the tee box, you need a strong, straight drive to gather enough distance so you will have an iron to the green. Anything weak leaves you with a difficult fairway shot. Drives right of the fairway land in thick rough, and you will need to clear some trees to reach the green. Your target is tucked into the right side of the layout, guarded by a trap waiting for those approaching from the right.
Hole 10 (217 yards, par 3)
Stop at the halfway house for a cool drink to prepare for this difficult par 3. From the elevated tee box, the green is only slightly higher, but in between lies a valley. Any shot short leaves you with a challenging chip to the green. I nailed my shot left of the green, landing behind the left trap with an awkward chip to the green. No one landed the green, but John’s chip landed within two feet of the cup for par, and Bob and I carded a four.
Hole 13 (449 yards, par 4)
Here there’s a blind drive to the landing area, with a massive downhill and wooded area on the right — perfect for those who might slice the ball. Bob struck gold with his drive left center over the fairway hill. John and I took the more difficult track to the right. I punched out, but John decided to nip every limb in his path.
Back in the fairway, I advanced enough to reach the green in three. Unfortunately, I caught the trap right and was pleased to walk away with a five. Bob hit the green, clearing the creek and carding a four. John’s score is still unknown.
Hole 14 (495 yards, par 5)
Be aware of the creek that runs across this fairway at an angle from left to right. The farther left you drive, the more fairway you have to land; if you turn your ball toward the right, it will end up taking a swim. I drove a perfect shot with a slight fade, landing nearly dead center of the fairway about 10 feet from the creek. From here, you can “swing away” with a fairway wood to get distance, as the fairway continues uphill to a series of traps right and left. I had visions of grandeur as I took a swing, but I chunked the shot, still gaining enough to be short of the traps. From here, I threw caution to the wind and slammed a 5-wood, landing right of the cup and two-putting for par.
Hole 18 (440 yards, par 4)
The finishing hole does not disappoint. The entire fairway pitches right to left and then levels out near the pond, 80–90 yards from the green. The shot is a downhill drive — remain as straight as possible so you do not venture right to the rough, high grass and brush. With a decent drive, you could be 100 yards or less to the green; then a simple sand wedge should be all you need to reach the slightly elevated green with its traps right and left. Note the beautiful views of the clubhouse and the first hole as you approach the green. Be sure to stop in the clubhouse bar and order the “Hancock.”
Chester Valley Golf Club
430 Swedesford Road
Malvern, PA 19355
tel 610 647 4007
Read This Next
Grand Hyatt Taipei
All Reads on This Topic
Read Them All
FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan Introduces Spring Experiences
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko in Japan offers travelers exciting experiences this spring. Opened in July 2020, the property overlooks Lake Chūzenji and Mount Nantai in Japan’s Northern Kanto region. With cherry blossoms (Sakura) set to bloom in April, the area is the perfect destination for a spring getaway.
Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler
Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler
New Limited-Time Bonus Offers from Scenic, Emerald Cruises
Scenic Luxury Cruises and Emerald Cruises currently offer travelers savings of up to $500 per cabin and a 50 percent reduction on deposits on select 2023/2024 river and ocean itineraries. The offers are available through March 31 and can be combined with others, such as early-booking savings of up to $1,500 per couple and a Pay in Full bonus that includes free or reduced airfare options.
The Cape Ann Museum Announces Major Edward Hopper Exhibit
This July, The Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, hosts Edward Hopper & Cape Ann: Illuminating an American Landscape, the first major exhibition to explore Hopper’s connection to Cape Ann during his formative years as an artist. Visitors will be treated to 65 works that include paintings, prints and drawings assembled from collections housed at Whitney Museum of American Art; Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; private lenders; and other institutions.
Enter to Win $500 and Get Six Months’ Free Access to the New GT App
Now through May 8, sign up for a free six-month trial of the Global Traveler app and be automatically entered for a chance to win a $500 gift card of your choice for Amazon, Apple or American Express.
March 2023Mar 22, 2023
Global Traveler Celebrates the 2022 Winners of the GT Tested Reader Survey Awards
Travel is back and better than ever! Last year brought a big boom to our beloved industry, and we were thrilled to celebrate the best of the best in December 2022 as we honored the winners of our 19th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, located downtown at LA Live!
Austrian Airlines to Bring Back Flying Chefs
DailyMar 22, 2023
Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf Review
eFlyer ReviewsMar 22, 2023
eFlyer DealsMar 22, 2023
Brown Hotels Celebrates Beachside Greek Resorts Reopening with New Offer
In honor of the seasonal reopening of its beachside Greek resorts, Brown Hotels offers a generous 25 percent discount on all bookings made by the end of April. This discount can apply to Brown Hotels’ beachside properties of Isla Brown Corinthia, Brown Beach Chalkida, Brown Beach Eretria and DAVE by the Beach Loutraki.
FXExpress Traveler of the Year
FXExpress Traveler of the Year Contest 2023
eFlyer DealsMar 22, 2023
Air Tahiti Nui Announces Limited-Time Sale on Flights from LAX to AKL
Through April 24, passengers booking a flight with Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles (LAX) to Auckland (AKL) enjoy round-trip fares from $974 per person in Moana economy class or $2,394 in Moana premium class.