Plymouth Country Club

6,570 yards, 137 slope, from the Blues

Course:  Located in Plymouth Meeting Township, Plymouth Country Club is a private club with a course designed by William S. Flynn in 1912.  It’s a classic parkland design that includes several tree-lined corridor holes on gently rolling terrain.  The greens are on the small side but are sufficiently complex.  As for the bunkers, they flash, which means they’re virtually completely visible from the tee, or at least from the oncoming shot.  I’m also pretty sure they’re isn’t a single fairway bunker and all of them are located near the green, but if that’s not the case, most of the bunkers are greenside and vary in placement and volume.

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the course.  While it’s easy for a course with so many tree-lined holes to over-rely on dog legs and blocking out greens from many areas of the fairway, PCC does not fall in this category and instead is able to keep the round interesting with the placement of bunkers, utilizing the elevation changes and varying the shapes of the holes.  There’s also enough room between the trees for recovery shots.  In general, shotmaking was at a premium to avoid the trees and hit the smaller greens, but the short game was almost equally important, to save par in those instances you ended up off the greens or in the bunkers, both of which are certainly common occurrences for the average golfer here.  There is plenty of variety as well, all of which presents a challenging round that engaged me on pretty much every shot.

While PCC is private, there are opportunities for public play and I took advantage of one of those so I could play this Billy Flynn classic.

The First is a 338 yard par 4 (from the Blues).  A dog leg right to the green with water on the right side after a group of trees.  Its a generous landing area for the tee shot, but the more right you go, the more you’ll have to deal with the water to get to the green.  The green is modest in size with bunkers placed on either side.  A good starting hole with teeth if you wander too far off the fairway.

The First

The green

The Second is a 400 yard par 4.  Things get very interesting very fast with another dog leg right, with water more immediate to the right and a forced carry over a small creek from the tee.  Your tee shot has a terrific impact on your approach shot, as a well place shot gives you a nice look at the green and another forced carry, but any tee shot off the mark makes the approach shot infinitely more difficult based on your angle to the green and the distance of the forced carry to the green.  The emphasis on shotmaking pretty much smacked me in the face on the approach shot of this hole.

The Second

Approach shot territory

The Third is a 435 yard par 4.  The hole is fairly straight and tree lined on both sides.  The fairway feels narrow, but there’s a good amount of room.  The green is off to the left with bunkers on either side, but the bunker on the left of the green is more severe.  The green is on the small side as well.  With the tree-lined corridor fairway, small fairway and well placed bunkers, this is yet another challenging shotmaking hole that tests you very early in the round.

Moving down the fairway of the Third

Off to the right of the green

The Fourth is a 294 yard par 4.  It’s a short par 4 with the green set off to the right of the tree-lined fairway.  Accuracy off the tee is a must and with the shorter distance, there are a variety of clubs that will set up for a nice approach to the green with bunkers to the left and right.  Anything off the far side of the green makes for a difficult recovery.  Of course, longer hitters can try to reach the green, but any shot off to the sides too much will be in the woods.

The Fourth
Approach shot territory

The Fifth is a 217 yard par 3.  For me personally, I like that I can tee off with the same club on the Fourth and Fifth, just to get in a groove.  While a longer par 3, the trees provide a wider corridor than the past few holes to a green that has the bunkers on the left and right side that are commonly seen here.  While there is plenty of room to lay up sort of the green, it is imperative to stay straight.

The Fifth

The Sixth is a 329 yard par 4.  This dog leg left has trees on the left side of the fairway blocking out approach shots if too far over that side.  One of the few fairway bunkers on the course is set on the left side as well.  The bunkering around the green is also a little different, with a longer trench bunker on the left and a larger one on the right.  I found the angle on the approach shot, the trees, and the placement of the bunkers very interesting, as it called for a variety of shots depending on where you were on the fairway.

The Sixth

Approach shot territory

The Seventh is a 155 yard par 3.  One of the more unique holes on the course, the green is surrounded by bunkers.  The top lips of the bunkers slope upwards, which creates mounding around the green and makes the shot partially blind to the green.  Precision and shotmaking are called upon here, while most any other shot except short will likely face severe consequences.

The Seventh

Another look

A look at the green back towards the tee

The Eighth is a 475 yard par 5.  The dog leg left turns much sooner than the holes before it and must be negotiated off the tee, as fairway bunkers and a tree line await directly straight away for shots hit too far down the middle.  After the turn, the fairway opens up considerably, but there bunkers closer to the green to make sure you don’t get away with just any shot advancing to the green.

The Eighth

Moving down the fairway

The Ninth is a 404 yard par 4.  The hole plays uphill towards the clubhouse and the tree line again impedes on tee shots too far down the middle.  Trees off the right also block out approach shots on that side (or at least command a pretty significant fade around it) while the green is on the bigger side for this course.  With the extra yardage from the elevation difference and the precision required for two longer shots, it’s a challenging hole.

The Ninth

Approach shot territory

The front nine literally takes you in and out of the woods and generally leaves little margin for error on off center shots, but is fairly short, so one who is able to manage control over their shots should be able to take advantage on occasion.  There is diversity amongst the holes and with most if not all of the greens open from the front, allows a variety of playing styles.  Ranking them, it would be 2, 7, 6, 3, 9, 4, 8, 5, 1.

The back nine starts with the 299 yard par 4.  Straight off and tree lined, the smaller green and wide/shallow bunkers around the green provide the challenge.  There is also some deep grass on the far side of the green that is tough to get out of, which I decided to personally test by hitting my approach shot long.  So yes, while you have sufficient opportunity to set up your ideal positioning for an approach shot, make sure you execute and hit the green.

The Tenth
Approach shot territory

The Eleventh is a 378 yard par 4.  The tee shot is downhill to a fairway that falls from left to right, we start to see much more contouring of the fairways, which in turn gives more roll and bouncing, along with different lies.  Here, a tee shot to the left side that hits the downhill portion could benefit from a bounce and roll towards the center of the fairway for a shorter approach.  The green is a little raised and has bunkers on the left and right.

The Eleventh

Approach shot territory

The green

The Twelfth is a 172 yard par 3.  A different look as we see more rolling terrain, with the green on the other side of a ravine, with bunkers on either wise.  The tree line on the left is fairly close to the shot line, but playing too far to the right puts the greenside bunker squarely in play.  I found gauging proper distance to the green a little challenging, as there is an elevation difference and the green is perched, but is fairly level with the tee area.  Regardless, I found it to be a fun par 3.

The Twelfth

The Thirteenth is a 493 yard par 5.  The hole proceeds gradually downhill and slightly left to the green.  The fairway slightly dips before reaching the green, which has bunkers on the left and right, of different shapes than most others.  The trees again demand precision, but getting to the green in two is feasible for longer hitters, while those who decide to throttle back can figure out their comfort level for their second and third shots and plan accordingly.

The Thirteenth

Approach shot territory

The Fourteenth is a 210 yard par 3.  This longer par 3 is downhill and in much more open space while the green slopes from back to front, which I feel makes it more receptive to shots with longer clubs.  The open space is actually a bit of a reprieve, tolerating plenty of mishits.  A nice scoring opportunity before the course tightens up again.

The Fourteenth

The Fifteenth is a 412 yard par 4.  This is a tight dog leg right, with trees and bunkers set on the outside of the turn for those tee shots that don’t shape in the direction of the hole.  The hole keeps turning until you reach the slightly raised green, so hopefully the fade is in your arsenal.

The Fifteenth

The Sixteenth is a 469 yard par 4.  The longest par 4 on the course also has one of the most narrow tee shot corridors, as trees loom over the fairway on both sides.  After the tee shots, the fairway proceeds slightly downhill before rising again to the green, which of course has bunkers on the left and right.  The contouring of the fairway is from left to right as well, which can be taken advantage of off the tee if played correctly.  I found this to be one of if not the most challenging holes on the course and was elated with bogey.  It is the number 2 handicap hole, just behind the Third.

The Sixteenth

Approach shot territory

A closer look at the green

The Seventeenth is a 537 yard par 5.  The last few holes really stretch their legs in comparison to the rest of the course, as the Sixteenth is a longer par 4, the Seventeenth is a par 5 and the Eighteenth is also a par 5.  The tee shot is to a gradual uphill fairway, which then starts downhill and turning left while the entire fairway cants from right to left as you approach the green.  There is a bunker off to the right of the green as well.  There is a premium on setting up your ideal approach shot, as the slope of the fairway and position of the green below it can create a blind shot and some awkward lies if not planned for appropriately.  It was a hole I enjoyed immensely.

The Seventeenth

Moving up the fairway

Approach shot territory

From the green looking back towards the fairway

The Eighteenth is a 503 yard par 5.  A nice finishing hole and back to back par 5’s, the Eighteenth provides a generous (yet tree-lined) fairway that climbs uphill before cresting just before the green.  The uphill creates a blind second shot and for someone who had not played the course before, had to drive up to the crest to figure out where I was supposed to hit it.  The green curls left from the fairway and there is a bunker off to the left and short of the green, while greenside bunkers are left and right of the green.  Getting in a position to see the green for your approach shot is vital, but those longer hitters who know the course and where to aim are able to attempt to reach the green in two.  The rolling terrain, length and width was a nice contrast from the flatter, tighter and shorter holes that were encountered n the front nine and Fifteenth/Sixteenth.

The Eighteenth

Moving down the fairway

Approach shot territory

The back nine is almost 500 yards longer than the front and shows a little more diversity in terrain and elevation difference as well.  The last four holes were a great closing sequence and provided a nice range of challenge.  I would rank them 17, 16, 18, 15, 11, 12, 13, 14, 10.

Generally, PCC is an engaging classically styled parkland course that emphasizes challenge and shotmaking.  The challenge is fair and not overly penal and the greens are set up to allow for a number of different plays, which softens the course a little.  One of the desired characteristics of a parkland course is that you should feel as if you’re in a park setting, which I believe this course possesses.  There are are no houses around the course and playing among the taller oak and pine trees, many areas of the course were serene.  I played one of my better rounds of the season here and one of the main things that stuck out to me as I recall my round was how deliberate my planning and execution for each shot was.  There were some shots where there was simply no room for error, so it became imperative to come up with a very specific shot and target to avoid a big number.  Any course that is able to keep you into that mindset throughout the round makes for good golf.  Conditioning was very good, the players I would run into as a single gladly waived me through and the staff were friendly.  It was a nice play and seemed to be one of those courses with repeat play, would force you to improve your ball striking, or get really good at punching out of the trees.

Gripes:  The range was on the smaller side and allowed irons only.

Bar/Grill:  This was a quicker round for me, so did not have a chance to explore the clubhouse.  There was a bar area off of the men’s locker room overlooking the First tee that seemed nice enough to relax in pre or post round.

Practice area:  There was a putting green next to the First tee and an irons only driving range.

Nearby:  Plymouth Meeting has plenty of options, either at the Plymouth Meeting Mall or PM Shopping Center, as well as nearby Morristown and Conshohocken.

Getting there:  It’s about 10 minutes off the Norristown exit of 476.

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