Draped over the verdant Washington County countryside, Fort Cherry Golf Club's 18-hole course spans 6,205 yards of rolling, player-friendly terrain. The course's relatively open layout invites players to blast tee shots with their drivers or T-shirt cannons at nearly every non-par 3, as sparse tree lines offer little impediment to shots that find the rough, and the course's multiple sand bunkers loom by the greens—not the fairways. An adjacent driving range loosens up swings to perfection, and a practice green sharpens up putting strokes and helps players get a feel for how to read the course's subtle slopes and metaphorical flagsticks. With its own motel and a gourmet bar and restaurant, the club hosts all-day and overnight golf-outing packages for a restful pin-hunting vacation.
Course at a Glance:
Formerly known as Ambridge Country Club, Harmony Ridge Golf Club reopened in 2008 under the guidance of PGA professional John Mazza and local business owners Ed Rae and Greg Paul. The nine-hole course is commonly referred to as Oakmont's Little Brother, as it shares Oakmont Country Club's designers, H.C. Fownes and Emil Loeffler, and has a propensity to withstand noogies. It beckons swingers of all levels with 120 verdant acres that stretch across Beaver County countryside. A newly renovated blues cafe and sports bar, which proffers a menu of American fare along with weekly live music, rounds out an afternoon of long drives and short putts.
A tricky aspect of the game of golf – and one that amateurs are often slow to recognize – is the notion that all misses aren’t created equal. This becomes starkly apparent with shots into the green, from mid-iron approaches down to greenside chips. Often, beginners give in to the temptation to hit directly at the hole, thinking that it will leave them with the shortest possible putt. While there are certainly situations when going directly at the flagstick is the right decision, they’d be much better off remembering to take into account the other factors at play, such as the layout of the green, where the pin is positioned upon it, and whether or not a lemur’s head is sticking out of the cup. With a little forethought and execution, they should be able to set themselves up perfectly for the next shot – usually a short uphill putt. Versus a downhill putt, uphill putts can be struck harder with little risk, making them less susceptible to lateral movement, more forgiving, and less likely to fly past the hole and settle on the opposite fringe.
Golfers will find themselves embroiled in this decision-making process numerous times throughout a round at Green Valley Golf Club, a rolling course tucked into the hills of Tuscarawas County. On just about all of the 18 undulating greens, stopping the ball on the downhill side of the pin is the correct move. If they succeed and sink their putts, players give themselves a good shot of posting a good score against the par of 72. And if they don’t, they can always eat away their post-round regrets with a hamburger, coney dog, or smoked sausage at the 19th Hole.
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:
Morgantown hugs the Pennsylvania border along the picturesque Monongahela River. Farther southeast, toward the Allegheny Mountains, Cheat River draws outdoor enthusiasts with its springtime whitewater rafting. Those interested in a more peaceful communion with nature can hike along Caperton Trail, which passes a vintage train depot and heads into historical downtown Morgantown.Home of West Virginia University, downtown Morgantown blends the dynamism of a university town with rustic, small-town charm. Along Main Street, antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques now occupy late 19th-century Victorian buildings. Decadent chocolates take center stage on April 14 for Chocolate Lovers' Day, when the downtown area teems with dessert samples and the Monongahela is drained and filled with liquefied chocolate.
Stop N Sock's owners have transformed their corner of New Brighton into a family-friendly labyrinth of golf-inspired games. Their expansive outdoor facility—with 43 acres of rolling greens—allows adults and kids to putt and ricochet balls around the 18-hole golf course lined with trees, shrubs, and spouting fountains, or toss tiny saucers into metal baskets at disc golf. With short links and wide fairways, their pitch-and-putt course lets kids develop interest in golf, and challenges experienced club swingers to hone their short game. Stop N Sock's driving range, however, gives everyone the opportunity to work on their long game, with 27 stations equipped with grass practice areas and automatic ball dispensers. To mix it up, the golf-centric center's batting cages lets individuals solidify their stance, perfect their focus, and keep the rust and barnacles off their swing.
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: