Totaling a little more than 2,500 yards laid end to end, the nine holes that constitute Maple Crest Golf Course's rolling hills challenge players to exhibit deft control in order to master its relatively short layout. Big hitters who can keep the ball in play enjoy wide, open fairways, but overzealous strokes may fly out of bounds or enter into orbit, forcing a difficult re-entry through the atmosphere and onto the 5,000-square-foot greens. The par 3 sixth hole forces players to hit their tee shot into a narrow opening above a ravine, and the par 5 ninth hole—the course’s longest at 464 yards—protects its multitiered green with trees and uphill lies.
Course at a Glance:
Designed by Mark Ormison in 1897, the fairways of Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park sprawl over 51 acres and invite linksmen to frolic among foliage that has been flourishing for more than a century, while also gazing out on metropolitan views. Players find themselves challenged right from the get-go with a second hole that is also the toughest, but can strive for birdies at holes 8 and 17 to recover. At the 11th hole, golfers encounter a quirky rectangular green, whose geometric origins are likely found in a house having occupied the space long ago. The course is managed by the local charity The First Tee Pittsburgh, which strives to encourage good character, values, and healthy life choices in children through the game of golf, and proceeds from the course benefit its programs.
Before hitting the course, players can hone their form at the course’s driving range in good weather, take lessons with a Class A PGA professional, or strengthen their swings at the Full Swing simulator, which tracks ball flight, speed, and distance in real time. The simulator offers high-definition projections of more than 35 notable courses, including Pebble Beach, Oakmont Country Club, Pinehurst Country Club, and Harbour Town Golf Links, and lets golfers sharpen their swings in the dead of winter without fear of losing a limb to frostbite or abominable ground squirrels.
Course at a Glance:
Set on the rolling wooded banks of the Youghiogheny River, Butler's Golf Course has been challenging golfers for more than 80 years with two 18-hole courses. The 6,314-yard Woodside course cushions golf shoes in a gently rolling terrain, and the 6,689-yard Lakeside course grants sweeping views of the adjacent valley and a few blind shots. Both par 72 courses can be enjoyed from the seat of a conveniently motorized golf cart, which transports golfers and their gear between holes, around scattered hillocks, and across the line in tense photo finishes.
Located 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, Highland Country Club's 18 holes total 6,084 yards from the longest tees. The tree-lined course's narrow fairways and plentiful hazards challenge golfers' accuracy and iron play throughout the game. A gauntlet of difficult holes populates the par 70 links, such as the par 5 fifth, which rises 84 feet from tee to pin, sports a green that slopes sharply from back to front, and is lined with trees that blow their noses loudly during players' backswings. Drives arc downhill on the par 4 10th hole, where the temptation to pummel the ball is curbed by a fairway pitching sharply to the left, and verdant journeys end on the deceptive par 3 18th, whose sloping green whisks over-struck putts well past the hole and the celebratory slice of pie hidden inside.
Rolling over the naturally hilly landscape, the bright-green turf of Statler’s Fun Center’s miniature-golf course winds around the center’s 1,528-foot go-kart track. Engines roar as racers 10 or older zip through the over-and-under bridge’s tight turns or give their lead foot free rein on the straightaways.
The soundtrack of purring motors underscores high-stakes games of miniature golf as players putt their way through deviously landscaped greens, expertly maneuvering the cave with a hidden waterfall and defeating the final hole guarded by squatting gophers. An air-conditioned snack shop provides respite from summer heat with cool drinks and an arcade full of excuses to hang out indoors, such as the classic air-hockey table and skee-ball.