According to the new rankings recently released by Golf Digest, the historic Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey has taken honors as the best golf course in the United States. The story of Pine Valley is an interesting one which goes back to 1912 when golf course architect George Arthur Crump carved 18 challenging holes (the slope from the “Regular Tees” is a lovely 155) out of the wooded South Jersey countryside. Known for tight doglegs, viciously penal bunkering and the club’s well-known “Hell’s half acre” (an expansive waste area in the middle of the par five 7th hole), Pine Valley was and continues to be one of the most difficult courses anywhere.
As one of several historic Philadelphia golf courses –including Merion and the Philadelphia Cricket Club– Pine Valley has long been one of America’s best. Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf film above beautifully showcases Pine Valley back in the 1960s with a match between Gene Littler and Byron Nelson. The film –which was recently remastered– actually holds up fairly well and shows how little the course has changed over the years. There’s also a point in this film where the narrator sort of hilariously works-around the name of club’s famous “Devil’s Asshole” bunker on the 10th. If you like golf and iconic American golf courses, I’m going to guess you are going to love this old program. Though playing Pine Valley on a beautiful summer day would obviously be an infinitely better way to explore this famous course.
One last note. In 1958 Sports Illustrated put Pine Valley on the cover and featured the demanding South Jersey track in a photo profile showing just how tough the course can play. You can read the whole story in the SI archives here.
Video found via Simon Haines.