6,516 yards, 132 slope from the Blues

Course:  Scotland Run is located off 42 South, about half an hour south of Center City.  This is one of the area’s higher end daily fee courses.  Generally, I am always cautious of the high end courses.  You’re spending close to $100 a round at these places, so you really have to figure out why they’re charging so much and if it’s worth it.  I’ve been to many courses that have a high end price tag, but don’t deliver, either because the course is boring, the course is not in the shape you’d expect, bad service, nearby environmental conditions (highways, etc.), or a combination thereof.  Admittedly, there was a period of time where I didn’t think it was worth paying the high green fees at the Run.  This was mainly because I didn’t appreciate the course and was quick to call it gimmicky.  While there is a great practice facility, bar, snack stand and cart girl, I felt that the course itself was overlooked.

I recently played here and boy how wrong I was.  My playing experience was first rate and Scotland Run provides a unique public course design that is challenging and diverse.

View from first tee

Most of the holes are protected on the sides by trees, high grass, bunkers or a gigantic quarry pit.  Tee shots are usually to decent sized fairways, but you will get penalized for wayward tee balls.  The second shot usually presents a number of options that are challenging, risk-reward and sometimes very difficult.  That is what I appreciate about the course this time I played it; the number of options available on most of the holes, which is always something that separates great courses from everyone else.

Number 1 starts you off nicely with a par 5 that graduates down hill.  There is a severe bunker on the right just short of the green, which I realized is invisible on your approach.  Another plus here that I didn’t realize before; knowledge of the course counts for something, which changes the experience you have each time you play.

Tee from Number 2

Number 2 has woods on both sides of the hole, with a lengthy bunker on the left to collect bad tee shots.   Interestingly, there are actually two greens for this hole.  One green turns this into a dog leg left while the other makes the hole a straightaway par 4 (both options are par 4 though).  3 is a shorter par 4 that dogs legs right.  Bunker placement is good here, punishing those who try to out drive the dog leg or those who push their approach shot right, where a pot bunker is waiting for you.

My second shot from 3.  Blind and with a towering bunker in front of me.

Pot bunker on 3

4 is a nice little par 3 where you hit into a punchbowl-esque green set down from the tee.  The green is big, just like the bunker complex that sits to the right and right front of the hole.  A pin position on the right of the green brings this sand into play and narrows the landing area significantly.  4 certainly presents a number of options on how to get the ball in the hole.  And oh yeah, the green slopes towards the bunker monster.  5 has a steep bunker along the left side towards the hole.  Here, the green is interesting, multi-tiered and sloping from back to front.  6 reminded me of a Pete Dye design.  There was a bunker running up the entire left side and any approach shot that didn’t stick the pin just gets killed.  It’s short enough so you are strategizing more than just worrying about length.

Tee at 6.  Bunker runs down the left entire length.

A look from the bunker on 6 from the green back to tee.

7 is a dog leg left.  You need to clear a waste area on your tee shot and the green, although rather large, undulates and its shape makes for an interesting approach that differs significantly depending on pin position.  8 gives you a lot of options on your approach and varies in difficulty depending on your tee shot. Anything off to the left brings the quarry into play, which is pictured below.  You’ll have to carry the length of the quarry to get to the green, or otherwise bail out right.

The quarry. The water is usually not there, but that’s what you get during the winter.  The green for 8 is straight ahead.

Number 9 is the second par 3 on the front.  You’re on a raised tee yet again and its short distance makes it a fairly easy hole.

I felt the back 9 was much more distinct and enjoyable, but then again, I started playing better then as well. 10 is a par 5 that has a raised green with a bunker guarding the entire front, complete with railroad planks.  Again, Dye seems to influence here.

Bunker guarding 10.  Yep, the wind knocked my ball into it.

11 is a shorter par 4 with some bunkering to keep you honest.  A large waste area also separates fairway.  12 has water on the right and a waste area on the left.  The approach is in to an amphitheater green with yet another gigantic green that gives a lot of pin placement options.

The green on 12.

13 is a great par 3 that could be characterized as an Eden hole.  This is a type of hole originating at St. Andrew’s that designers such as MacDonald and Raynor utilized on their courses.  Typically, greens on an Eden are set on a hill.  13 is no different, requiring a lengthy one shorter to yet another interesting green complex.

Tee shot at 13.

14 is a great example of this course emphasizing shot management as ultra important.  The hole is a very short par 4, but is littered with a number of bunkers and hills.  In fact, the green is set on a hill with the split fairway running through two hill sides.  Most players grab their driver and see how close they could get to the green, but any long drive off its path gets you in big trouble.  You could choose to lay up for a manageable approach, but even the lay up area isn’t all that large and the approach is still tough.  Just a great hole that you could play a thousand different ways.

Tee shot at 14.  

14 from a second shot view.

15 is a short par 3 with a few small bunkers and a larger green.  The hole is encased in trees.  Putting is the big key here.

16 gives you the most intimidating tee shot of the round, and possibly one of the most intimidating in the area.  You must carry the quarry, but get to decide how much you want to take off in a risk reward scenario.  Bail out is left.  I really wish I knew how to hit a draw for this shot.

Tee shot at 16.  

The hole gets even more interesting with a tough approach.  Cross bunkers are from left to right and the green slopes from right to left.

Way left on 16 second shot

17 is a longer par 4 with a green surrounded by water.  It’s a great hole mainly because of the undulations and mounds along the fairway.

17 tee shot.  More waste areas to deal with.

18 is a wonderful signature finishing hole.  It’s a par 5 with a green sitting up on a quite a large hill.  There’s water on the right if you belt it too far that direction on your tee shot but bunkers are on the left.  You could temper your tee shot, but then again you’ll be clamoring with your third approach shot up the hill.  A long straight tee shot is key here.  Your second shot can take a lot of forms and this hole can be played many different ways.  Once you get to the green, it’s multi tiered and the wind is usually blowing pretty hard.

Looking at the 18th green from the fairway.  The green is on top of that plateau.

Going up to the 18th green.  Still about 100 yards away from the green.  Bunkers are hanging out all over the hill.

I really enjoyed playing this course.  Even though I played during the winter, I’m looking forward to coming back when the course is in ideal condition.  The service is great, everyone is real nice and helpful and the amenities are top notch.  If I lived closer, I’d consider a membership here.  After my recent round here, I’m moving Scotland Run from 16 to 7 on my rankings.  Also, their hot dogs are much better than I remembered, so they get a bump in those rankings as well.  The bun is awesome.

Gripes:  Still think the green fees are too steep.  It’s definitely worth it, but they should take a page from White Clay, who lowered their fees.  

Bar/grill:  Best in the area.  Great beer, great food, great service, great t.v.’s, great crowd.  I would go here just to hang out even if I wasn’t playing.

Clubhouse:  Big, great sales on Ping equipment and good clothing.

Nearby:  Not much I know of.  Kind of in the middle of no where.  The course is too good to pass up though.

Getting there:  Pretty easy, just go gown 42 South and it’s about 5 minutes off that.