MURRYSVILLE, Pa. — I’m not the type of golfer who rolls out of the driver’s-side door and onto the first tee.
Not that I require a PGA Tour-caliber hourlong warmup, although it would be nice to have that time and opportunity. I just want a chance to figure out where my swing is on that given day, and get a decent feel for the green speed while I’m at it.
Unfortunately, a lot of courses barely have a decent practice green, let alone a driving range on property. No such worries at Murrysville Golf Club, which impressed me in a few ways upon arrival.
One of those ways was that aforementioned range, just a quick walk or cart ride from the clubhouse. Another was how the entire reception process was moved outdoors, under tents, as was the snack bar. Owner Jack Kerrigan and staff are taking no chances with spreading the virus, which was appreciated from this end.
As for the course itself, I’ll start with this: A piece of property like the one that Murrysville GC sits upon, without much tree canopy and with plenty of high exposed areas, isn’t going to be lush in the middle of a dry summer like this.
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But despite some brown turf and crispy rough, the fairways and greens were as receptive as one could reasonably expect in July. In fact, I’d describe the putting surfaces as downright soft, an adjective I didn’t anticipate deploying in a review until October, at least.
At any rate, conditions alone do not a good course make. At just under 6,000 yards from the black tees, Murrysville GC is the shortest non-Bob O’Connor 18-hole course I’ve played this year, although I wouldn’t say I thought about it that much during the round.
As expected, there’s some redundancy with the yardages on the par 4s, with all 14 of them coming in between 298 and 378 yards from the tips. (The 15th is listed as a par 5, but at 413 straightaway yards, it’s not.) Outside of the parallel 10th and 15th holes, though, there’s still a variety of looks for the golfer to consider.
A combination of trees, out-of-bounds and a little bit of water make the front side a rather tight driving experience, and although the back nine opens up on most holes, the targets are consistently exacting throughout the round.
While the tee shot is partially blind — and intimidating for the first-time player — the par-5 third was both my favorite hole and a good example of how the design hugs the topography.
After the draw demand at the start, which might be less than a driver depending on your length, the sharp dogleg left reveals a back-to-front sloped green in front of a pond that runs half the length of the hole on the left.
There’s a bailout zone to the right of the green, but the way the hole design funnels the eye toward the flag, I hardly noticed as I lined up a long-iron second shot. That’s captivating golf.
Ironically, considering the course’s short total yardage, the par-5 ninth was another hole that still stands out in memory a few days after the round. This one’s reachable in two as well, but with the added intrigue of a left-to-right fairway target and a downhill approach that gets the golfer’s attention, as Sardis Road lurks a few strides behind the shallow green.
Another highlight is the combination of Nos. 12-13, which take you back into the woods for the only time in the round. The foliage frames both shots on the par-4 12th, then the field of vision tightens for the mid-length par-3 13th, on which there’s no choice but to stand up and hit a good one.
On the whole, though, there’s only so much a course designer can do to add teeth. Considering the par-5 18th is downhill and clocks in at just over 450 yards, we could argue Murrysville GC is a par 70, not 72. But the lack of length will provide plenty of scoring opportunities for the average golfer, which isn’t a bad thing for the general golfing public.
That dovetails into a general sense of looseness at the club, which strives to find a niche in an area where several courses compete for the affections of the local clientele. Murrysville GC’s solution has been to sell out on fun, embracing league play, regular scramble-oriented events and even a yearly night-golf event, coming up later this month.
Price is also a clear check mark in the Murrysville GC column. All rounds are $39 with a cart, $23 without. (Fair warning that it’s a tougher walk than the scorecard might indicate, mostly due to elevation changes.)
Actually, it gets better! PGN readers can take advantage of special, limited-time discount: Play Murrysville GC for the member’s rate of just $25, with cart fee included. Just click here to access the deal!
PGN’S ON COURSE
After a sweltering 18, I took the chance to sit down on the Murrysville GC patio with Kerrigan, who discussed his focus on entertaining repeat customers, which he thinks gives his course an edge in a saturated golf market east of town:
Again, thanks to Mike Darnay for the gorgeous drone footage!
PGN Value Rating: 4 out of 5
Murrysville Golf Club
3804 Sardis Road
Murrysville, PA 15668
20 miles from Downtown via Parkway East & U.S. Route 22 E
Scorecard (Black & White tees are par 72, Gold is par 74)
Black – 5,959 yards, 69.0 rating, 119 slope
White – 5,561 yards, 67.0 rating, 117 slope
Gold – 4,827 yards, 67.0 rating, 109 slope
Read our other PGN Course Reviews, including Butler’s Course, Totteridge, Moon Golf Club and Frosty Valley!