Philly Muni – Walnut Lane

Walnut Lane:  Designed by Alexander Findlay

Course: Tucked in Roxborough along Wissahickon Park, the course is by far the best of the muni’s. Not at all a long course, but the holes are interesting enough with turns and elevation differences to keep it pretty amusing. And the green fees are unassuming unlike at Cobbs and FDR. The first 2 holes are pretty straightforward, literally. Then comes a nice little dog leg par 4 with a small green abutting an embankment, where a pointed approach is called for. Number 5 is a sleeper par 3 and much longer than it looks. You hit across a valley with a steep climb up to the green. Your shot must be dialed in or you’ll be scrambling. You have to cross the road for the rest of the holes after the Seventh. 10 is a creepy little par 4 that ends in the creek, followed by a par 3 where you’re hitting straight uphill on what feels like a bluff. Good fun. The rest of the course bob and weaves along and before you know it, you’ve enjoyed a $19 course a lot more than you thought you would. The course is in surprisingly good shape, but don’t take this the wrong way; you will never mistake it for a thoroughbred. It’s playable and there’s enough grass to go around everywhere. That gets the job done for what this is; some where for beginners or anyone else who wants to take a stroll around the park. There is a good group of regulars, mainly older guys, who have been playing here forever and are great company. I will go a little further and say this is what I always think muni golf should be. Character, cheap, fun.

Gripes: Some people use the course as a hiking trail. It’s annoying when you think you could hit them with one of your shots, or when they’re walking dogs off leash. Can get crowded at times, which ruins most of the experience. Do not expect the majority of golfers here to know ettiquette. There is also no range or short game area; just a net.

Bar/grill: They sell snacks, that’s about it.

Clubhouse: A 32 inch tv from the 1980’s, some of the old guys play cards and bust each other’s chops. It’s their place so move along.

Nearby: You have Manayunk to go for beers after your round. Try Flat Rock or Le Bus. Or if you want to get a little saltier, try T. Hogans or Dawson Street Pub, which are more in Roxborough.

Getting there: Easy enough, it’s off Henry Ave, about 5 minutes from Route 76, Lincoln Ave. Exit. Can get crowded during rush hour.

Update:  June 2012.  The course still holds up as a nice muni course in a convenient location to Center City and the west suburbs.  I paid $25 for a cart on a Saturday afternoon and was able to play a full round in a couple hours.  I took some photos this time and I’ll go through the full run down of the holes.    There are no par 5’s, and only a couple holes where driver is playable on the par 4’s, but there are a variety of par 3’s that get you using all the clubs in your bag.  Slopes, hills and trees are the main obstacles and are effective a number of times.

Speaking of trees, a lot of them could use a good trimming.  Some of the openings are getting quite narrow, which makes the course a little tougher.  Some might say these trees make a few greens unapproachable but I wouldn’t go that far.

The course is also really into the First Tee program, so some of my comments from the first review may not apply any more.  There were kids in the clubhouse and on the putting green, so it looks like it’s a place for kids to learn the game and quite honestly is a good course to learn on since you use so many clubs and different shots.  It’s where I go when I want a practice round.  Conditions were fine as well.  Bottom line is this course remains a nice value for a low key no frills interesting round.

The First hole is a par 4 that is tree lined on both sides.  It’s 325 yards and starts you off nice and easy.  The Second is a par 3 about 196 yards.  Bunkers are left and right of the green and there is a fall off on the back side.  The Third is a 320 yard par 4 that has a nice dog leg left with a green tucked in to a knoll.  You can draw your driver pretty close to the green, otherwise it will go beyond the dog leg into trees that are along the right side of the fairway.

The green on the Third looking back to the fairway

The Fourth is a 228 par 3, but it’s down hill and anything left or right is dead.

The Fourth

The Fifth is another 200 yard par 3 that plays across a valley.  It only measured 170 yards when I played it and never remember this hole playing 200.  Trees are a factor here, knocking down most shots that try to get to the green from the right side.  The green slopes pretty well from back to front.  The Sixth is a 177 yard par 3 that sits on a hill side that slopes from left to right.  There are bunkers around the green that come into play and although there is a little room on the right, you can’t really get away with too much of a shot that goes left or right.

The Seventh is a par 4 is 370 yards that curves a little left downhill.  You’ll probably have a side hill lie on your second shot.

Tee shot at the Eighth.  

You cross the road for the rest of the holes, which start to get more interesting.  The Eighth is a par 3 that plays about 140 yards with green side bunkers along the front of the green.  Trees also come into play here.  A fade can get you around them.  The Ninth is a par 4 about 336 yards.  The tee shot is over a little knoll and you need to draw it if you hit driver.  There is no straight line from the tee that runs down the fairway.  Anything straight off the tee, unless you lay up, ends up in trees.  The green sits on a hillside protected by bunkers.  And trees.

The Tenth is a nice par 4 that dog legs a little left and downhill towards a creek.  The green sits along the creek and trees stand all around it, mashing anything that’s off course.

Tee shot at the Tenth.  Draw it around those trees.

A look at the green of the Tenth.  

The Eleventh is a 140 yard par 3 that goes straight up hill.  It’s blind, but there’s a lot of green up there you can’t see.

The Eleventh.  Club up.

The Twelfth is a par 4 that’s about 340 yards.  The tee shot must carry a ravine, then immediately turn left to avoid trees.  The green also sits on a hill side and slopes severely right to left.

Tee shot at the Twelfth.  Look at those trees demanding a particular shot and nothing else.

The Thirteenth is the shortest par 3.  It’s uphill and fronted by a large bunker.  The green is shallow, so your shot has to be dialed in.  I never play this hole well for some reason.

The Thirteenth.  The shortest par 3, but demand a precise shot.

The Fourteenth is another par 3 about 155 yards.  Simple enough, but left is the bailout here.  The Fifteenth is a 340 yard par 4 that dog legs right to a raised green with a bunker along the left side of the green.  The Sixteenth is a 160 yard par 3 to a raised green straightaway.  The Seventeenth is a 240 yard par 3, downhill with no room either left or right because of the trees.  The Eighteenth is a 360 yard par 4 with a blind tee shot, yet it’s straight, so no big surprises.  A few bunkers are around the green, along with those trees, bless their heart, to keep you honest.