Saucon Valley-Old Course

Saucon Valley was created as a playground for the wealthy steel guys in the Lehigh Valley section of northeast Pennsylvania.  The Old Course is an elegant simple layout designed by British Architect Herbert Strong known for designing courses with little disruption to the land.   As a result the course meanders across rolling hills framed by vintage old trees and it looks like it just belongs in the natural surroundings.  This course has held six USGA national championships  a U.S. Amateur, Senior Amateur, two Senior Opens, and two Women’s Opens as well as innumerable regional and local events of importance.

Sahara #6 Par Five

This facility has 54 holes of championship golf, as well as short course for developing players and seniors.  A primo golf facility with a long and storied tradition you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the golf pedigree of this place.  Walking the locker room or the halls of the clubhouse there are lists and lists of the rosters of championships contested here and plenty of other memorabilia that makes this feel like an ad hoc golf museum.  They even have a luxurious 13 room guest house which accommodates guests at the club in a comfortable informal way.

This course is not a beast but it is a stiff challenge that will test all of your skills. To me the bunkering is the most obvious distinguishing characteristic.  It is free form-no real patterns to the bunker placements but they are placed in places in the driving areas and the green constellations that make successful play a matter of good strategy and precise execution.  The bunkers are very deep-even in the fairways-so there are times you must relent and play a shot that will not get you to the green or at the flagstick.

Turtle #11 Par 3

The greens are very unusual-wide variety of shapes and sizes with plenty of segmentation and slope to keep you honest in your approach shots and approach putts.  If they speed them up to 12 on the stimp you are in for a handful.

I just loved the flow of the course.  Both nines start out with expansive visual holes that are extremely inviting and are then followed by short technical holes that will demand focus and execution.  The stretch from nine to fourteen looks very forgiving on the card but you will be challenged big time through this stretch not to make any unforced errors.  Fifteen through seventeen are all long and strong  so there is no relief to the end.  The finishing hole will grow on you-especially if you make a par-it is short but very demanding-any wayward play on this hole will do damage to your scorecard.

(All photos from sauconvalleycc.org website)

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Architect: Herbert Strong (1922)

Tees               Par          Rating         Slope        Yardage

Blue                 71            73.1            138            6800

White               71            70.7            135            6337

(Click to see complete Saucon Valley Old Course hole-by-hole descriptions)

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