6,355 yards, 135 Slope from the White tees
In West Chester, PA, Radley Run was designed by Alfred Tull and opened in 1964. The course is on abrupt hilly terrain that juts and rolls, intersprsed with creeks such as Plum Run and, bordering the course to the East, the course’s namesake, Radley Run. Going up and down hills or taking on forced carries are the dominant themes. Most of the course is nice and open while blind shots abound, a natural result of how the holes were laid out on the terrain.
The disjointed, choppiness of the routing not only leads to an excess of blind shots, but there are too few opportunities to utilize the terrain for an enjoyable ground game and because there are limits on where golf can actually be played, there is redundancy of the holes at each area of the course. The downhill holes play too similar, the uphill holes the same, etc. I enjoyed a few of the holes, which presented options and had interesting greens. The tee shot at the Eighteenth was terrific, but the funneling into the green was baffling and I feel could have been much better. In all, I think a lot of the course could be a lot better. With the elevation changes, the tee shots could be more exciting and greens set at interesting angles. Instead, it’s more of a straightforward affair and while it may appeal to those who enjoy tests of distance control and the aerial game, I spent a lot of the round thinking what could have been here if things were laid out differently. The terrain is fantastic, however, and its mostly wide off the tee, allowing a good amount of freedom in strategy to attack the greens. While much of the course didn’t suit my eye, there are many that sing its praises and it’s no doubt challenging.
Coming off my CA trip, it was good to get back to the area and play some where new to me. It was early Summer, so the weather was perfect without much humidity and a little wind. Rumble in the Jungle by Jethro Tull stayed in my head most of the round, which I was ok with. The place gave kind of gave me a Broad Run feel. The reviews this season are aplenty, but it’s going to take me a while to get through them. It’s early November as I write this, cold and crisp outside. As Jethro Tull played on an endless loop in my head, I already long for these Summer rounds that always seem too fleeting and few as Winter begins its sojourn.
The First is a 404 yard par 4 (from the White tees). The first blind shot of the round is off the tee, to a downhill fairway that bends to the right a little before the green. Staying on the left is ideal to get on the green while those too far right get below the hole in a hurry and will likely need to carry the greenside bunkers on that side to reach the green. There isn’t much tolerance for sideways shots, so ending up short or long as the case may be, is a good general rule of thumb.
The Second is a 503 yard par 5. Another blind tee shot, this one to an uphill fairway. The fairway moves from right to left and after the tee shot, moves downhill before going back up, creating a valley for the second shot, and another blind shot. The fairway then moves downhill to the green, which is protected by bunkers.
Removing a lot of trees on the left that separate the Second from a hole that runs parallel to it seems like it would help make both holes play a lot more fun. It would open up the breadth of the hll side and create some strategy in terms of what you want to see on your next shot. An entrypoint to the right instead of front and center for the green may fit in better here as well, but again, these are just my musings.
The Third is a 316 yard par 4. Plum Run makes its first appearance and you have to decide whether to carry it off the tee or lay off, opting for a longer approach shot. The green is uphill and trees make it imperative to keep it straight. With greenside bunkers along the front, approaches to the back of the green are always a good idea. It’s a short par 4, but accuracy is a must and it’s longer than the yardage based on the elevation.
The Fourth is a 219 yard par 3. Switching directions and going back over Plum Run, there’s plenty of room short of the green, which sits uphill from the tee. The green is fun, with more subtlety here than seen on most other greens.
The Fifth is a 410 yard par 4. Back over the Plum we go, dog legging to the left and uphill to the green. Another fun green and the bunker on the lower left is one to avoid. Less trees heere would help spice it up a bit.
The Sixth is a 150 yard par 3. A forced carry over water, the green moves from left to right and back to front. The rear rough is not a great place to end up, requiring a lot of touch to ensure the ball doesn’t run off the green. Unfortunately, I simply forgot to photograph here.
The Seventh is a 487 yard par 5. Yes, we meet Plum Rum once again and the decision off the tee on whether to carry or not is here yet again. After the creek, the fairway turns left and goes uphill to the green. The hill is on the steep side, so figure out where to place the second shot to set up the approach, considering just how far up you want the ball from your feet. The approach into the green is blind basd on the hill. The green has some width but could probably be much larger considering the shotmaking demands to get there.
The Eighth is a 332 yard par 4. The tee shot is to an uphill fairway that is pinched on either side by bunkers. Negotiating the bunkers off the tee is paramount, as ending up in them likely means pitching out only. The hill is steeper than the Seventh and the apporach is blind. Less rough and maybe taking out the left fairway bunker to allow movement of the terrain a little more freedom would make things a little more fun, but things felt restricted and lies with the steep slope confounded matters. The small green was on the sadistic side as well I thought.
The Ninth is a 329 yard par 4. A downhill tee shot to a hard dog leg left where trees guard the inside well. Finding the sweet spot of clearing the turn for a clear approach and avoiding the rough and trees on the right is formidable. Another example of mybe getting that hillside on the right more involved; take out these trees and allow tee shots to roll and fall back towards the left would really make this hole a lot more fun. Instead, the challenge is with pulling off an acceptable tee shot and if that’s done, you get a short approach to a narrow yet deep green. In fact, there’s not a whole lot of room to miss on the green, so allowing for a miss short may be a really good play.
The front nine loops around the northwest property. I would rank them 2, 1, 4, 5, 7, 6, 3, 9, 8.
The back nine starts with the 336 yard par 4 Tenth. Teeing off right next to the First, another blind tee shot to a downhill fairway with trees just off the fairway on either side. The green is set in kind of a bowl, with bunkers in front and right. The green sits in this bowl below the fairway, so figuring out distance control is a little tricky, but I actually liked this green a good deal. It moved well and I like how it was place on top of a ridge, looking down to the Eighteenth fairway.
The Eleventh is a 177 yard par 3. Lots of room before the green, but gets very unforgiving off the green once you get there. A fairly straightforward par 3 where short is ok but anything else off the green is flirting with disaster. The infinity green has a nice look to it as well.
The Twelfth is a 572 yard par 5. Running parallel with the Second, and playing similarly, the blind tee shot arches up before running down to the green. The difference with the Second is the fairway is not as hilly, so you can see your second shot to set up the approach. The green is small. It’s similar to the Second in that it’s downhill from the fairway and bunkers are on either side.
The Thirteenth is a 150 yard par 3. A forced carry over Plum Run, which is set at an angle, so the further left you go, the further the carry. It’s a nice site for a green and its subtleties were refreshing. I enjoyed the hole a lot.
The Fourteenth is a 367 yard par 4. A dog leg left where placement off the tee is a little tricky, yet necessary for a chance at the green for the second shot. Plum Creek runs along the front of the green, so it’s necessary to carry it to the green. It’s a tough hole, but another one I liked, mainly because of the green.
The Fifteenth is a 303 yard par 4. A short par 4 where Plum Creek makes not one but two appearances. The shorter fairway is safely off to the left, nothing but a mid iron away, yet the temptation is real to go for it off the tee, carry the Plum and get as close to the green as possible. The tree immediately to the right of the tee is baffling for this reason; let this temptation fully grab hold of the golfer and have the green in full view. The tree almost suggests to lay up. Otherwise, the green is inviting, deep and at an angle. Another cool hole.
The Sixteenth is a 531 ysrd par 5. Straightaway yet the hills put some thrill in it, with a blind tee shot to the uphill fairway. After the uphill, the fairway moves down to the green and cants from left to right throughout. The green is wide and shallow and invites the ground game a bit from the front. A decent hole, but I found it very reminiscent of the other par 5’s.
The Seventeenth is a 337 yard par 4. A slight dogleg right where the fairway tilts from left to right. The meddling fairway bunkers on the left are where you want your tee shot to go, yet are a nice aiming point go fade the ball off of. You can get some roll of the fairway off the tee if placed right. The approach is a forced carry over a random pond to a wide shallow green. I liked the tee shot, but the approach is fairly one dimensional.
The Eighteenth is a 432 yard par 4. The tee shot is perched on the ridge overlooking the Seventeenth green, yet is out to a fairway that sweeps and climbs from right to left. A chasm is between the tee and fairway and it’s visuals will intimidate the better of us. The green is then off to the left and the glorious width of the fairway whittles down. I think the green should be in the ridge to the left, then have all the room on the hillside moving right, but again that’s just me. As it stands, you want to use the sliver of hillside to move the ball from the left to right.
The back nine is still in the hills, but then gets into the lower land where I think some of the better holes reside. I would rank them 13, 15, 14, 18, 11, 16, 17, 12, 10.
Generally, Radley Run has some nice holes and diverse terrain that will appeal to some, but for me the land could have been used better and made a nice mark on course design in the area. As it stands, a nice challenging round can be had here and course knowledge pays off with all the blind shots while the greens were pretty fun. A well condtioned course that is nice and open, yet the hills could have been used better.
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: Nice, separate structure, with a great pro.
Practice area: A range, short game area and putting green. Make sure you use them all to get sharp for this challenge.
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