Springfield Country Club

6,018 yards, 127 slope (from the Blues)

Course:  Springfield CC is a public track located in Springfield, PA, which is about 40 minutes west of Philadelphia proper.  Historically, the land was once occupied by Abraham Lincoln, but turned into public land and eventually a golf course in 1947.  The course underwent a greens restoration in 2000.

I had only played this course once before and a couple things that stuck out to me were the elevation changes and dog legs, with some forced carries mixed in for good measure.  Greens had some texture to them and utilized the various slopes and contours of the hilly area pretty well.  I found it to be a fun play that gave you a chance to hit some interesting shots, but was over priced and very crowded.  I liked the outdoor bar set up, though.

Upon returning after a few years, many things had changed.  For starters, there was a Marriott hotel hanging out where the parking lot used to be.  The pro shop, outdoor bar area and halfway house were also dramatically different.  It seemed like Springfield had been upgraded; the staff was friendly, the carts were top notch and the Marriott looked to be packed.  I couldn’t wait to see how the course had changed.

Well, the course was definitely different, but I’m not sure for the better.  Fairways were brown throughout because of seeding, which is usually well and good, but the fairways are Bermuda grass, which is very difficult to maintain in this temperate zone, and I heard they re seed at least twice a year as a result.  The greens were in rough shape as well.  Coming up the Eighteenth and seeing the hotel jutted up against the fairway all the way to the green, there is a large white sign in the middle of the fairway, warning you against trying to go for the green because of the hotel.  Very bizarre.

And so here we are.  It appears that the place is doing well with the hotel and booking weddings, but I get the feeling that is the focal point now, with the course a nice amenity for the hotel guests coming in for those weddings.  Maintaining that large of a facility takes money obviously and unfortunately, it looks like the course may be an after thought when it comes to deciding whether to invest.  But yeah, it’s still over priced, which is a head scratcher for me as I tried to figure out what exactly it was I paid for.  Obviously, it was tough for me to get over some of the major issues here.

At the end of the day, it appeared to me that SCC is experiencing a bit of an identity crisis.  I couldn’t help but notice they no longer have a golf pro or offer lessons, yet the website is advanced enough to book outings, local schools who want to use the course for practice and even allows for gift cards. Sadly, I also noticed we were able to breeze through the round on a Friday afternoon, when that was when the peak crowds would hit.  It seems like the course is now part of the entertainment, a component of the wedding booking frenzy and marketing, instead of a smaller course that demanded some respect because of some very tough greens and sharp doglegs and hills.  Yes it’s a fun course and I would love to come here to bone up on my long irons and short game every now and then, but the green fees take all of that out of the equation.  I suppose out of towers itching to do something may pony up that money for the benefit of playing 5 steps outside of their hotel room, but there’s too many places nearby I’d go to that offer better value.

A quick tour.

The First is a 398 yard par 4 (from the Whites).  A ravine separates the fairway from the green, giving you a tougher approach shot for your second swing.

The Second is a 376 yard par 4.  It’s more of an arc to the left than a dog leg.

The Third is a 320 yard par 4.  The fairway tilts to the right and the green sits above the fairway.

The Fourth is a 365 yard par 4.  The tee shot is an interesting one, as your options are to attempt to carry the tree line to the fairway you can’t see, or lay up extremely short, leaving yourself with a very long second shot, uphill and blind.  The hole forces you to hit a strong draw, as even hitting it straight over the trees puts you in danger of running through the fairway and down the slope off the right side.  Just poor in my opinion.

The Fifth is a 381 yard par 4.  Yes, another par 4.  Instead of a hard turn left like the Fourth, this hole turns hard right to an elevated green.  Driver is too much here off the tee, which is curious for a longer par 4.

The Sixth is a 136 yard par 3.  It’s uphill, with a ridge and a couple bunkers off to the sides protecting the green.

The Seventh is a 451 yard par 5.  It’s a dog leg left with a bunker protecting the outside of the leg.  The green is then straight ahead after the leg, with a bunker standing directly in front of the green.

The Eighth is a 163 yard par 3.  It’s a carry over a ravine to a generous ravine.  Aside from the carry, ho hum.

The Ninth is a 349 yard par 4.  You continue to club gradually uphill, but the hole is straight and there’s a fair amount of room along the right.  Cross bunkers protect the green.

The front nine has a few fun shots and holes, but the routing is stale and some shots, like the Fourth tee shot, are baffling.  Yet if I ranked them, I’d go 7, 5, 1, 8, 6, 9, 2, 3, 4.

The back nine starts with the 344 yard Tenth.  I actually like this hole, as it’s a short par 4, but the fairway is contoured in such a way that it makes you think of where to play your tee shot.  The rough also seemed higher here than other areas of the course, so the second shot is tough to figure out.  And you have visual issues if your ball ends up on the right side.  I could play it multiple times to figure out the best way to play it.

The Eleventh is a 490 yard par 5.  Trees line the right side while they are scattered along the left.  The hole is straight and there is a ridge that drops off into out deep grass as you get closer to the green.  Decent shots should be enough for par or better here.

The Twelfth is a 158 yard par 3.  The green is set uphill from the tee and cross bunkers front the green. Standard fare.

The Thirteenth is a 276 yard par 4.  It is indeed short, but the hole dog legs to the right sharply around a group of trees, to ensure all but the most towering tee shots can’t carry and are forced to lay up at the dog leg.  It felt gimmicky.

The Fourteenth is a 165 yard par 3.  I actually like this hole.  It’s a drop shot to a green that sits on the terrace of a severe downslope.  Figuring out the right club and deciding where to land the ball on the green to account for the slope and putting makes it an interesting hole.

The Fifteenth is a 432 yard par 4.  It’s uphill and the tee shot is blind.  The fairway slopes from right to left and the green is protected by a few bunkers.

The Sixteenth is a 146 yard par 3.  There is water on the right and a bunker on the right closer to center, yet nothing on the left and the green slopes from right to left.  So, an approach up the left side will typically leave you with a nice uphill putt for birdie.  Possibly moving the bunker to the back left or directly left of the green would make this hole a lot better.

The Seventeenth is a 336 yard par 4.  This is another hole I like, as it’s a slight dog leg left that crests, then gradually descends to the green.  The green is narrow and long, with a trench bunker protecting the right side and a slope on the left, leaving you with a tough downhill chip if you land off the green.

The Eighteenth is a 354 yard par 4.  It’s another decent par 4, with an elevated tee shot, then the fairway climbing to a green with a couple bunkers scattered around the green and a larger bunker on the right side of the fairway.  The big problem with this hole that turned me off was the sign in the middle of the fairway chiding you from trying to go for the green because of the nearby hotel, which looms pretty close by.  You can hear the folks at the outdoor bar as well.  It felt way too crowded and the sign, hotel and entire set up detracted a lot from closing out the round enjoyably.

The back nine had some better holes than the front, yet the Eighteenth is too constrained.  Ranking them, I’d go 17, 14, 10, 15, 11, 12, 16, 13, 18.

Generally, Springfield is a shorter course that offers a couple decent holes, a lot of repetitive, with many issues with routing, confined spaces and conditioning.  The course now almost seems like an afterthought, as the hotel and wedding catering seem to be in the driver’s seat.  I paid the peak green fee and it was over priced in my opinion.  I could see some golfing here if they lived close by and wanted a quick round, or folks staying at the hotel wanting to get out of their room.  To be fair, pace of play was not an issue.  Otherwise, conditions have to dramatically improve and there could be a few changes to the design to bring this course into an option for me.

Gripes:  Aside from the above, there is no driving range.  Over priced and conditions were not good.

Bar/grill:  Good.  They have a great halfway house and good facilities for the 19th hole.

Clubhouse:  Good size and adequately stocked.

Practice area:  Just a putting green.  Not sure if you can chip on it.

Getting there:  It’s on Sproul Road just off Route 1.

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