Monday, May 28, 2007

Pine Valley Golf Club

Well, my friends, I have done it. That's right. I have played Pine Valley (ranked #1 in the world).

The Borough of Pine Valley

New Jersey is a very unusual state in many ways when it comes to something called local rule. Even though it is one of the smallest states in the U.S., it actually has 551 separate municipalities or governing bodies. Aside from being the #1 ranked golf course in the world year after year, Pine Valley is also its own stand alone municipality. The entire municipality consists of the golf course. Under New Jersey law every municipality has to have a town hall, a school district, etc. Pine Valley does have each of these and its own stand-alone police force as well.

The entrance into Pine Valley, over the railroad track

Like the presidential retreat at Camp David, the location of Pine Valley isn't exactly unknown, it's just that you have go out of your way to find it. Pine Valley is located in a typically middle-class New Jersey suburb. The area surrounding the course is not grand and does not hint at the greatness that exists behind the fences that separate this special place from the rest of the world. To get to Pine Valley you make your way to the Clementon Amusement Park, which saw its best days in the 1940s, but still functions seasonally to this day. Behind the Amusement Park, down a two lane road, on the other side of the railroad tracks is the Pine Valley Administration building. This lilliputian building contains the entire infrastructure for the town of Pine Valley, population 20. This includes the municipal court, police headquarters, town hall, etc.

Pine Valley's very little town hall

It sets the stage for what can only be described as the perfect environment for a golfer. Going behind the fence at Pine Valley is like going to Disney Land for a five year old. It's magic.

Being invited to Pine Valley

Speechless. This is the sensation I experienced recently when invited to play Pine Valley. What you have to understand is that I have been networking and trying to play Pine Valley for quite some time. I was sitting at my desk and a P.V. member called and invited me to play. Just like that.

"Hey, Joe, how does Sunday look?"

I couldn't speak. After a good thirty seconds it registered. Never mind that I would have to skip church, my son's soccer game and my wedding anniversary (just kidding on the last point, but that would be a tough call).

"Looks ideal!"

"Great, as long as the weather holds up, let's do it"

What does it feel like to get invited to play P.V.? Pretty damn good, at the risk of gloating. As I told my golf friends that I was invited, the jealously-inspired insults came quickly and then when they asked if there was room for someone else in the foursome - silence. One (now former) dear friend was so jealous, he hoped that Sunday's weather would bring a "Nor' easter".

For the next five days I checked the weather on-line every half hour.

I remember reading the accounts of those who have played the top 100 and was always struck by how they were invited to play at certain courses. One guy who completed the top 100 quest was called and invited to play Augusta rather than having to grovel for years. This stuff really does happen.

My game, like the game of all golfers, goes up and down. One can only hope that when you are invited to play P.V. it is when you are in an up-cycle. In a very good turn of events, I was invited to play P.V. after posting some of my best scores ever. My good karma on this quest is continuing (thank you Archbishop Tutu).

As it turned out, the Weather Channel forecast for Clementon, NJ for the day I played:

Mostly Sunny
High - 73
Low - 55
Humidity: 45%
Winds: WNW @ 13 MPH
Golf Index: 10 out of 10 (Excellent)

Now, I had to get ready to play P.V. I re-read Zen Golf to try and re-center myself. Focus on breathing. Meditate. I also re-read Golf is not a Game of Perfect. Stay in the present. pick a target. Relax, it's only a game. As usual with me before a big round, there was a lot of mental chatter: "Bring a lot of balls. Nobody breaks 100 the first time. Slope of 153. Hit the ball straight. Don't get too hyped up. It's a golf course like any other golf course, with tee boxes, fairways and greens."

Bull Shit.

P.V. is like any other golf course like the Pope is like any other priest or the Queen is like any other Brit. I would rather be invited to play P.V. than to a White House State dinner. This is a big deal.

On the morning of my round, I put on my finest dress slacks and best golf shirt. No fraying khakis at P.V. I prepared my car, filled it with gas, checked the tire pressure, oil and wiper fluid (OK, so I'm a little compulsive). Nothing could stop me now. I drove down the New Jersey Turnpike at 55 miles per hour, which is actually quite difficult to do since the average car/truck is going over 70. I was like a little old lady out for a Sunday drive. The last thing I needed was to be pulled over by a State Trooper on my way to P.V. I was taking no chances at all.

Playing Pine Valley

1st hole from tee 

Welcome to Pine Valley, the view from the first tee, your first forced carry of the day

I was particularly looking forward to playing the par threes, which looked to me to be awesome. The tenth hole here is a short, downhill par-three with one of the wickedest bunkers in the world short of the green on the right side. The bunker is nicknamed the "Devil's ass hole", or as the gentleman at P.V. call it in the club history, "The Devil's aperture." I also looked forward to playing the dastardly 219 yard uphill (over water) par-three fifth, undoubtedly one of the hardest par threes on the planet.

Pine Valley's short par three 10th hole

The round went well. Although I was very nervous I had a nice drive onto the first fairway. The first three holes I was in such a trance I couldn't tell you how I did. It was just over-whelming. Eventually I calmed down and we settled into a very nice round of golf.

pv #9 green

The 9th green, on the right hand side

Even though I had previously walked the course twice as a spectator to Crump Cup matches, it was a different experience actually playing. I had previously stood on various tees and fairways and visualized how I would hit my shots. It is quite another thing to stand on the tees and fairways with a club in your hand and a caddie at your side and actually hit the shot. The primary difference being that your own 'aperture' tightens up significantly when you really have to do it.

Pine Valley Fifth hole -  The hardest par three in the world

pv sixth from tee 
The course offers no let-up, the difficult fifth is followed by this tee shot on six

I hit the par-three fifth green with a driver, in one of the best shots of my life. I also hit an eight-iron stiff to the pin on the par three tenth, avoiding the Devil's Ass Hole, seen below.

pv bunker #10
The bunker to avoid at Pine Valley, in front of the tenth green

On a course of intimidating tee shots and forced carries, I actually found the most intimidating tee shot to be the downhill par three fourteenth, where you hit from a highly elevated tee. It is tightly tree-lined with water in front and behind. There are bunkers in front of the green and a sense of having to hit nothing less than the perfect shot. The general feeling standing on this tee was of claustrophobia, a feeling of being closed in.

pV #8 green

The 8th green (right hand green)

I played the #1 handicap par five seventh well, I hit a good drive and then a lovely three wood over "Hell's Half Acre". Although I hit the ball well, I didn't score well, but that's P.V. I felt better that the three handicap player in our group couldn't score either, it's just that hard. Make one mistake and it multiplies.

To my utter astonishment, when we completed playing we walked directly from the 18th green back to the 1st tee for another round. By now, I had calmed down and in one of my proudest golfing moments ever, I hit the farthest and straightest drive of my life on the first tee. We saw perhaps three other groups out on the course during the afternoon round.

The essence of Pine Valley is its difficulty. Every shot has a forced carry off the tee, many of which are at an angle so you have to decide how much risk to take. A prime example of this is the view from the tee on the sixth hole seen below. The course is fair if you hit good shots. Driving the ball is not a problem if you hit it straight. The fairways are generous. I hit more than half the fairways. The difficulty is the second (and third) shots. I had to hit three wood, utility wood or five iron as the second shot on most holes. Accuracy in long approach shots is required to play Pine Valley well. Even on the short holes such as the eighth, one of the few holes you can actually hit driver and a short iron, there is no letup. This is because you have to hit from a downhill lie to a postage stamp green. It also goes without saying also that you must putt well at Pine Valley. The green complexes are as complicated and as good as you will ever see. I also noticed that a lot of holes start out being wide and get progressively narrow as you approach the green. This is most acute on the long part five fifteenth hole, which gets quite narrow as you get closer to the hole.

Forced carry as seen from the sixth tee box on the scorecard

One of the other things I found interesting about Pine Valley is the texture and variety of the sand. Built in a region of the state called the Pine Barrens, the sand texture varies from hole to hole and even within a hole often times. It is very important that you dig your feet in before hitting a sand shot (and you will no doubt hit many sand shots here) to test the texture. Sometimes it is like hardpan, other times it is fluffy. There are probably more than a half dozen sand textures that you have to be aware of and hit the appropriate type of shot. I don't know if there was ever a technical analysis done of the course, but my guess it that about 30% of the entire course footprint is actually sand hazards.

The worn-out golfer faces this as the daunting tee shot on the eighteenth

The Overall Experience

As far as the overall feel of the place, there are no frills at Pine Valley. The clubhouse is modest, understated and has little trappings. The place is about golf only. It is the perfect setting for golf, the cynosure of the golf world. It would do the officials at the U.S.G.A and P.G.A. a world of good to visit Pine Valley every so often as a refresher course in what makes golf great. It is the true north of a golfing experience.

The course is no doubt one of the best in the world. It is an exclusive enclave. You are away from the world when playing P.V. The routing of the course is diverse, it is in great condition, it tests all aspects of your game and was a privilege to play. Is it the best in the world? I don't know where I would rank it yet. I find it best to give some time before trying to assign a ranking. It is certainly one of the most difficult and intimidating courses in the world. The entire experience had an out-of-body feeling to it that is still difficult for me to believe.

For those loyal readers on the lookout for me in my travels - I am now easier to spot. I'm the doofus walking around with all the Pine Valley logoed clothes on.

By the end of the day, I have never been more physically and mentally drained in all my life. Playing 36 at P.V. took it all out of me. After I drove home I opened up a bottle of whisky I have been saving for a special occasion. A 25 year old Bushmills Millennium Malt bottled in the year 2000, accompanied by a Bolivar #2. I passed out on the back deck a happy man.

The day also included a victory for my son's soccer team.

Can a day be more perfect?

The only unfortunate thing about the experience is the several ex-friends I now have who aren't talking to me anymore after finding out I played in a threesome and would have loved to be the fourth. Also, if you are lucky enough to be invited, the pro shop doesn't take credit cards so bring cash or a check to buy things.

P.S. - I recently visited P.V. again in the springtime and have some new pictures to share

The view from outside looking in - no sign of how special it is ahead

The guardhouse where you pray your name is on the clipboard

Pine Valley Clubhouse

Interested in learning the methods I used to play all these spectacular golf courses around the world? then my forthcoming book may be of interest, in details how a mortal golfer may be able to do the same. The book is available from and Click on the image of the book below to order on Amazon:

I hope you will find it enjoyable and entertaining.


Unknown said...

Congratulations on Pine Valley!!!

I just started reading your blog, and I enjoy it. It has helped me gain an appreciation for golf course design, which is also aided by the improvement in my own game. The blog has also inspired me to start putting down my thoughts after playing a new course. I may even go for a golf blog of my own one day, at least for some pictures of my favorite holes. (As an aside, my target for doing so may be when I play French Lick Springs later this summer).

Even though I've only started getting serious about golf in the past year or two, being from NJ, I've always known of Pine Valley. Figuring I'd never get a chance to play Pine Valley, I'd always hoped of playing 36 at Baltusrol.

You must be feeling great! Best of luck on the rest of your quest. I look forward to reading about it.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on Pine Valley !
But remember, If you ever get the chance to play at Morfontaine don't think about buying any clothes from the pro shop as there are sold to members only !

The London Golfer said...

Congrats! It's almost scary isn't it how a golf course can make you feel so awed when you play there. Like at Augusta, every shot at PV is like the first time you step onto the 18th tee at St Andrews.

Did you get a chance to play the PV short course off approach shots to replica greens?

Anonymous said...

Congrats on PV. It's a great course. I too was lucky enough to play it once, and like you I didn't even take my camera out of the bag. I didn't want to interupt a moment with the taking of photos.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on playing Pine Valley. I play regularly and it is never the least bit disappointing as there is no weak hole .... no weak hole, barely a least strong one. (I personally find #14 a little ho-hum, but everyone's take is different; it is still a spectacular hole and often a favorite. That's a fine way to dissect a great golf course - talk "weak hole".)

The distinctive thing is the attitude at Pine Valley. You describe it as no-frills, but to me it is all golf. (Maybe half-full vs. half-empty perspectives.)

Honestly all the polished cherry lockers, over the top service and tip-seeking arse-wipes swarming and coddling you especially at clubs are all non-existent at PVGC. Good riddance.

Once in the gates, all that matters is the golf.

Why should there be anything else.

Congrats again.

Anonymous said...

As a member of (how do you say it/) PV ? I did enjoy your story.
The members of Pine Vally like myself are busniness people who seldom meet eachother or know who our fellow members are. We do recieve a list with contact info but I've never used it.

I have brought many guests over my 13 years and many were like yourself. The goal of the club is GOLF, PRIVACY & TRADITION.

Recently I brought a guest, a beer salesman and really nice guy with a very good game. His comment on the first tee box wa "This ia allready the BEST day of my life"

Thats what makes ( "PV" ) so great!


Anonymous said...

My son (Lewis) aged 14 at the time was invited by a PV member to come and play this fantastic golf course!
His appreciation of such a fine golf course will stay in his thoughts for the rest of his life. I have been a golf course greenkeeper for over 27 years now and my son playing the best course in the world was an equal treat for me. He took many photographs of the course and was lucky enough to obtain PV's history book which is a fantastic read! For me I have been lucky enough to play many of the courses rated in the world top 100. One of my best friends, Mr Richard Hoover, who in fact is a golf course rater has been fortunate enough to have played the world top 100 numerous times!!!!! Richard stayed at my club in the UK for over one year on a business trip and we formed a great bond. He invited me over to the US to stay with his family and he has become a true and loyal friend. Golf is a wonderful sport and is quite unique in that, you can play and experience the feel of the turf under your feet, knowing that some of the best golfers in the world have walked on that same piece of turf!!!

Tony Dunstan
Course Director
Langdon Hills Golf Club

Michael D. said...

Wow, I have found someone who is as passionate and compulsive as I am when it comes to Pine Valley and the game of golf. I haven't had the wonderful opportunity to play the World's Number 1 but I live in Philadelphia so I have made it to the club the last 2 years for the Crump Cup like you mentioned. The first time I went my heart was pounding out of my chest as the bus pulled up to the gate and I wasn't even playing, I couldn't imagine if I was. I wouldn't be able to sleep the night before and perhaps the night before that. I would iron my slacks, shine my shoes, clean my clubs rid of cheap local municipal course dirt and watch "Golf Tips" and "Playing Lessons from the Pros" on the Golf Channel full of adrenaline.

I've been playing for like 9 years now and this past year I finally got under a 10 (8) handicap which has been one of my goals.
The other is to play Pine Valley. Maybe one day I'll get that call!

I would like to congratulate you on all your accomplishments and wish you good luck in your future endeavors.
Great Blog...Keep it going!

Michael D.

Anonymous said...

I would like to give my husband a
round at Pine Valley for Father's
Day. Can you help me do this?

Top 100 Golfer said...

A nice though Linda but it's a hard invite. Also, it's tough to contact you as an anonymous post!

Anonymous said...

congrats on PV. I have been to the club about six times this year and still have not gotten the chance to play the course. It is just impossible. It seems like when you cross the Rail road tracks and the guard house your in golfers heaven.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and love it. I played Pine Valley last weekend for the first time and fell in love with the whole place. We stayed at the dorm and played the short course as well as the regular 18 two times. If there is a golf heaven, this is it. I have played at several other top 100 clubs, but they do not compare to the experience you get at PV. Good Luck with the rest of your quest to reach 100.

John B.

Anonymous said...

I myself am not a golfer and a New Jersey native. My fiance is moving here to NJ and a very avid golfer as I understand Pine Valley is a dream come true for any golfer to play. I would love so much to get him a chance to play on this course. Can you help me?

Anonymous said...

I work at this course. It is just an amazing test of golf. The 7th hole is not the hardest, no idea who does the handicapping of the holes. If u hit the fairway, and a good 2nd shot, you have a chance at a bird. However if you can only hit the ball 240 yards, well you are going to have a nightmare.

The 5th hole, 13th Hole, and 15th hole are the hardest 3. 4 is a good score on #5. If you get a front right pin, watch out. Their is a false front, that pulls everything off the green (Even Putts) You go long and it is really easy to putt the ball off the green. The ideal way to play the hole is to ignore everything around you, just see the fairway, and lay up short of the green or hit the front of the green. You can't go right or left on this hole. 4 is a great score on this par 3.

The thing that makes this course so difficult is the 2nd shots in to the greens. You can't get away with poor shots on any hole. At the same time it is almost impossible to not miss a green on the course. You can play one good round and the next round just be a tad off and your score suffers. The Avg 15 handicap will shoot a million, it is too hard. The course was designed for really good players and it doesn't lend itself in any way to not having the skills to execute the shots that are needed to play Pine Valley.

The greens at Pine Valley are some of the most complex in the world. Very rare do you get a putt that doesn't double or even triple break. Birdies are well earned.

#8 is like no hole I have ever seen. A simple pitch and you are on the green. The green slopes insane. You have massive bunkers all around each green. The size of the greens, makes #8 at Royal Troon look massive, and that hole is nicknamed the Postage Stamp. Basically if you hit the ball over the green to a back pin, it is very hard to just make 5.

The Key to 10 is playing 5 yards past the front of the green yardage. If you miss this green it is a devil to make a par. #12 front pin is an easy bird, back pin, it is very hard to stop the ball. The green kind of shifts towards the back so your ball hits and it goes long. Distance control is very difficult. #14 has the flattest green at Pine Valley, but the breaks in the green are very hard to read correct. Again you have no room to miss this green. You hit the green you more than likely make a par. If you miss this green you can make an easy 5. 16 and 18 from the tips it is 245 to 250 to get the the fairway…..

Please don't ask to get you on this course, I can't. You need to know a member, and the members can only bring a specific amount of guests in season.

Yes you can buy stuff from the pro shop, they have tons of stuff for the guests.

My view of Pine Valley is 1st class all the way the course is like a National Park.

Anonymous said...

While you can buy gear at PV, it is easy to tell who is a member and who is not because only members wear logo only gear. If it says Pine Valley, chances are you are not a member.

Anonymous said...

I ahd the opportunity to play 36 holes at this shrine 25 years ago. I remeber the experience as if it were yesterday. It is surely an experience I will take to the grave. Your post is an accurate reflection of the experience

Anonymous said...

I feel all warm and gooey reading about your day at PV. However not being as passionate about golf as yourself I dont entirely get it. Bigger HOWEVER, sitting back at the end of the day with a Bushmills and calling it whisky is a def no no. This is Irish and therefore whiskey!!!! And when you sit back after an experience like that it should be a proper malt WHISKY of at least 18 years old.

MJ said...

When my blackberry buzzed and I looked down to read "Would you like to play Pine Valley?", I was stunned. Completely speechless! As a certified golf addict, this is downright unbelievable.

Three days from now, I am playing Pine Valley. Three days! I can tell you I haven't slept well for the past week and I suspect it won't get any better.

I have been fortunate enough to tee it up at many of the greatest courses in the world, but this is Pine Valley! I have never been this excited!

I have read everything that google spits out on Pine Valley. Twice. This blog is awesome. Thank you all!!

After checking the weather for the 32nd time in the last two weeks... forecast is for mostly sunny. Hope it holds up.

I literally spent an hour trying to figure out what to wear. And then changed my mind three times. I figured the Ian Poulter look would not be appropriate. So, going with a subtle and conservative look to further demonstrate my respect for this amazing place. In my mind, you really can't wear golf apparel with another course's logo all over it to Pine Valley. What are gonna do, try to show off by wearing your Bandon Dunes hat? Or the Shinnecock shirt your friend bought for you? C'MAHN!

The clubs are spotless. There are only 14... checked that already. My three year old golf shoes have been shined better than a West Point pleb's boots. I have hit balls almost every day for the past month. I actually practiced bunker shots!! Building my own course book based on what I have been able to read. I am in full on game mode, baby!!

My biggest challenge now is figuring out a token gift of appreciation for my host. Need to figure it out soon, I only have THREE MORE DAYS!

Will post again after I play.

Anonymous said...

HAHA... I am in awe reading these posts. I thought my boyfriend was the only one who thought this way about golf and PV. We live in South Jersey and he has never been to the course but would literally give his right arm to play the course as long as he could use his left to swing the club. I have a ton of contacts and hook ups, and can get just about anything anyone wants in Philly/Jersey area but have tried soooooooo long to get my boyfriend on that course. This is crazy!!! Being from NJ I would never think that the #1 course would be here, and less than a half hr from me...

Im still on my search, and am determined to get my boyfriend on for his birthday next month, even if i have to beg, borrow or bribe!! If anyone knows anyway I could make this happen please email me at and I would be eternally greatful.

My boyfriend said it is his life long dream to play there... and I always laughed at him... but reading everyones comments here I guess I understand it a bit more!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on playing Pine Valley. I've had the good fortune to play it twice. Your descriptions are accurate and I too experienced the awe and joy.

As to whether it's the greatest course in the world, the choice is somewhat subjective because it's tough to compare a course like PV with places like Royal Dornoch, Ballybunion or Lahinch.

Nevertheless, PV has all of the elements required and, in my view, only one marginal hole (#12). I've played a lot of top courses and I can think of only one other that can honestly be described as having 17 great holes and that's Cypress Point (which I've seen but not played).

There's just no other comparison.

BTW - I see you haven't played The Homestead. It is secluded, top notch, and very enjoyable (with a gorgeous Italianate clubhouse & grill). Good luck with the rest of the list.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on adding this course to your list!

It was not until about two months ago that I realized how special PV is. One of my dad's long time friends is best friends with a member and has played it multiple times. The most recent trip he brought back photos for me to see and that is when it hit me. It happened to be one of his best rounds too! He shot 66 hitting 17 greens. It is truly one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Hopefully I will get to join him on his trip one day but who knows maybe one day it will happen. Good luck on your quest.

Anonymous said...

It's so crazy how the number 1 is right in our backyard behind the trees... Every time I pass Clementon Park I look down that "road" and think "it's down there"... Famous celebrities, senators, former presidents have all been there... some probably are there now... One day I'll man up and ask the regular at the steakhouse I work at if there there is anyway (he was in charge of the half-way, but just retired)

Anonymous said...

There is nothing idiot about seeking to play one of the best golf courses in the world. It is not a notch in a bed post, but a source of true fulfillment for anyone who has real passion for the game.

Baupoo said...

as of now what would be your top 5 favorite courses you have played, whether they are on the top 100 list or not.

Top 100 Golfer said...

Baupoo - Hard to pick just five, but I would say Cypress Point, National Golf Links of America, Sunningdale, Carnoustie and a tie between Merion-Maidstone-Morfontaine-Loch Lomond and Cruden Bay.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your blog very much. I have lived about 5 minutes from Pine Valley all my life. My good friends brother-in-law has been a grounds keeper there for years and he was able to give us a golf cart tour of the course. It was very exciting. My one friends Dad has been a member over 30yrs. Its a nice place, anywhere you go in the jersey pine barrens is never a disapointment.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I enjoyed the insight into what might be the most exclusive golf club in the world.
The real question is..When are you going to play the Highland Links?
It's natural beauty and challenging golf will make for an interesting entry.
May I suggest playing in the fall. The temperature might be a little off-putting but the views in full fall foliage will take your breath away.

Q Fool said...

Wow - you've been fantastically lucky to have played 97 of the Top 100. I've only played one of them, and fortunately that was #1. I caddied here in the 80's and played a bunch of times.

As you mention it is a pure golfing experience, and in a very unassuming locale. The day I went to the course, with directions from my college golf coach, we stopped on the little road that eventually leads to the course and asked folks where the course was. They had heard of it, but were not sure how to get there. And, it was just 1 1/2 miles down the end of their road.

I did have the good fortune of playing their the day after the Crump Cup in the Caddy Tournament. Talk about a tough course set-up.

I was happy to hear that it still stands the test of time, even with all of the recent advances in golf equipment.

Thanks for sharing!

George Pelletier said...

My name is George, I am a combat veteran, and I live 6 miles from Pine Valley and only had enough courage to drive up to the gate once it is so intimidating. The drive down Atlantic Ave puts chills and tingles down your spine when you first start seeing tiny parts of the golf course to your right. As everybody reading this I would love to play there any day any time or work there. If any PV members would like to fill their foursome or just have great company for the day give me a call I am right around the corner. My name is George, 856-655-2536, and I have great advise for dining or night life.

NYC Printing said...

i have gone through all of the courses of your blog.but pine valley attracts me the most.i am dreaming of playing in pine valley.
i always look forward to reading about golf courses.
Great Blog...Keep it going!

Daniel Sullivan said...

This would be a dream if i could play there.I am a 4 handicap golfer and i do follow golf history.I first saw this golf course on tv when they the Shells Wonderful World of Golf in the early 1960's. I know that scores were over par.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on playing PV. I played it for the first time a few weeks ago. I was very lucky to play it twice. Your review Of PV is very accurate. I found the course very difficult, but fair. I am a 10 handicap and shot 95 the first time and could not break 100 the second time around. I think it is difficult to score there because 1. you know you are playing the #1 course in the world 2. you want to play well because in all likelihood, it is the only time you are going to play it. 3. intimidating tee shots and even harder approach shots. Lets face it, your game needs to be ON in order to play well at PV. The member that I played with is the nicest guy in the world as well as all the people that I met at PV. IT TRULY IS ALL ABOUT GOLT AT PV!! Congrats on your achievement

Luke said...

enjoy your blog, first place i go when playing a top track to get a feel for the course. So I have had a very tough year on the links due to some adjustments I have made with my swing...currently a 20.4 index (up 4 points this year). Was fortunate enough to get a last minute invite to PV this friday & after reading your your comments as well as your readers I am now really freaking out. Any last minute advice would be much appreciated. will consider vodou!

Top 100 Golfer said...

Luke - thanks for the comment. Just breath deeply, my friend. No doubt your caddy will settle you down also as mine always do. Just enjoy the day, it's only a game. Fairways are easy to hit, relax and don't worry about your score, it's the overall experience that's more important. Good luck

Unknown said...

Hi i just began to read about your experiences and i love them. I just have one question, do you get anything like a souvenir from the courses you go to?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog. Have been reading it for several years and enjoy your take on the courses. I've been lucky enough to play about 25 of the top 100 on your list, including Pine Valley a couple of times.

Unfortunately, on my second trip around PV, my tee shot on #10 found the Devil's Asshole. After looking at the situation for awhile I decided to putt out of the bunker. Hardest swing I ever took in my life -- but it worked.

Thanks again for what you're doing. Please don't quit after you play Augusta.

Jan Garrett said...

Played Pine Valley when I was 15- With a 3 handicap I played great and shot an 88. There was a tree I believe in the middle of one green in 1961. This was an amazing experience- Went to my home club and shot a 73. JAN GARRETT

Unknown said...

I come to your blog and read almost the entire content on a weekly basis lol Being poor and from the south a guy like me can only dream of getting the opportunity to play these courses. I love "the game" for the reasons it should be loved, and I feel you do to,, the connection it gives you to nature (if you can only slow down enough to get it), the lessons in patience it gives,, I am a plus handicap golfer I have been since I was 15yrs old, I have won on various professional mini tours and have 8 course records in my home state, including a 58 at my little home town course,,, and still to this day I cannot get on most of the private clubs here in Birmingham Al lol, much less the courses you have played! It's incredible what a man can accomplish with determination, golf has give you 4 lifetimes of experiences and thank you for sharing with the rest of us. P.S If you ever need a "ringer" in one of these elitest C.C matches let me know ;)

Steve said...

Have been lucky enough to play Pine Valley 14 times with a member who just recently passed away. I have played most of the great courses, including Augusta National. There is no comparison between Augusta and Pine Valley. Pine Valley is 10 times the course that Augusta is.

However, I haven't seen any mention of the best non- golf amenities of Pine Valley. The Snapper Soup in the dining room and the large panhead showers in the locker room. Awesome!!

leukemia cancer said...

Congratulations on Pine Valley!!!

I just started reading your blog, and I enjoy it. It has helped me gain an appreciation for golf course design, which is also aided by the improvement in my own game. The blog has also inspired me to start putting down my thoughts after playing a new course. I may even go for a golf blog of my own one day, at least for some pictures of my favorite holes. (As an aside, my target for doing so may be when I play French Lick Springs later this summer).

Even though I've only started getting serious about golf in the past year or two, being from NJ, I've always known of Pine Valley. Figuring I'd never get a chance to play Pine Valley, I'd always hoped of playing 36 at Baltusrol.

You must be feeling great! Best of luck on the rest of your quest. I look forward to reading about it.

8:35 PM

Unknown said...

sounds like a great place... I'm curious if someone has an email to contact them. Like 16 years ago one of my old bosses gave me some clubs that somebody gave to him. I never really thought about it but one day at the driving range one of the golf pros was hitting and asked me about the clubs and he pointed out they have a P.V.G.C. logo with a pine above the initials. Im not an avid golfer so that really didn't mean much to me. Either way Im wondering if they are worth anything to someone so I'd like to email them. They are macgregor blades and for someone that is way taller than me. So I was just curious.

Anonymous said...

Had fun reading your blog, especially since my best memory (of many) of playing PV TWICE was making a 2 putt PAR on #14. The bad part about that was I was first up on #15 and promptly put the drive in the water!

I used to slice a lot and my caddies on both rounds would go ahead and stand in the woods on the right on most holes!

My other great memory was that the second time I got to play we stayed over night before the round and: (1) the maitre'd told us to come down to the bar after check in that he'd buy us drinks!; and (2) that as rep of the host company when I inquired about what was our tee time in the morning I was told, "sir, this is a GOLF club, there are no tee times; come down to breakfast and when you have finished and are ready you may go out to the first tee"!!!

As you say, a magic place which I have remembered all my life. Too bad I was such a poor golfer when I played it!

Adam said...

Have you ever played the criminally underrated Laurel Valley Golf Club in Ligonier, PA? I've only played two other course on the 100 list (Sawgrass and Pinehurst 2) but Laurel is far superior to both. Of course, Pinehurst looked like an overplayed dog track when I was there. If Laurel held tournaments or had the history of some of these older clubs then it'd be right up there with them. Best course I've ever played and likely ever will.

Anonymous said...

what about Augusta?

Anonymous said...

Congradulations on play at PV.I played PV as well.I believe Cypress Point is the greatest course. My Opinion.Surprised you did not indulge in Snapper Soup and a tall glass of Tom Collins.PV claims they have best Snapper Soup, however, being from Maryland I disagree that the best Snapper Soup is found in Maryland.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend is on his way to play the course he belongs to and dearly loves, Pine Valley. I just wanted a little more information on it, and came upon your website. It brought a smile to my face, as I have played golf professionally and for over 44 years. I one day hope he invites ME back east to play on that certain sunday from 12 to 5 when he plays another 18 in the afternoon. Thank you for a wonderful review of the heavenly, Pine Valley!

Anonymous said...

Since this post blog is from 2007 and my comment is from 2014 this blog has held up. I live in Jersey and could not believe at a family party with my in-laws in CT they said the number 1 golf course was in Jersey. I could not believe it but now I do. Congrats on getting to play 36 holes at the number one course, it would be unbelievable to get a phone call/email like that.

Anonymous said...

I went on a golf trip a couple of years ago with my father and a close friend - Baltusrol, Merion, Pine Valley in that order.

Baltusrol was a fantastic day out and is definitely comparable to other great 36 hole properties (Sunningdale/Walton Heath also stand out for me).

Then we went to Merion where I didn't play at all well and found it very hard, but was a great experience.

Then went to Pine Valley the following day and I have to say the other two just paled into insignificance. I just cannot conceive there is a better golf course in the world - I've played about half of the top 20 now and I think I would trade a round at each of those for one more round at PV. I was completely blown away and had tingles running down my spine on virtually every tee box. GO THERE!

Anonymous said...

Great blog - best part is all the comments about PV being purely about golf. So refreshing to hear that the members are all nice guys. As with everyone else I'm a life long golfer who would love to play PV one day. Any members want to give a fella a break? let me know


Anonymous said...

I'm lucky to be the offspring of a member and have played many times. It IS a wonderful setting, a great layout, and an understated masterpiece.

BUT, the great secret is that it's not much fun to play. It is just too difficult - the archetype of a good walk spoiled.

Unknown said...

If you ever have a spot for a quest guy i am available. I live in Monmouth County and play with a njsga handicap.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful account of golf, tradition, and excellence. The course just looks absolutely phenomenal and at the peak of my golfing career I love reading the success stories of others who have gotten to play golf's hallowed grounds. Nearing graduation from college in three weeks, I am about to start a journey with Caddie Master Enterprises as a Caddie Manager that may allow me to work with clubs such as Whistling Straits, Cypress Point, Augusta National, Etc. If you have any information in playing Pine Valley, and helping me complete the goal of playing there, it would truly be an honor. I may be young but the finest courses in the world are the course's that appreciate golf and what it is meant to be for the player.

If anyone would like to help, my email is

Congratulations on the rounds at PV, and thank you for your blog!


Lewis Adams-Dunstan said...

Its been 12 years since I played this amazing golf course with my old friend Mr Richard Hoover, Mr Charlie Radenbush and Craig Isabel and still to this day, I think it must have been a dream... We even put our golf clubs home ball in the half way house right below Seve Ballesteros and right next to Arnold Palmers.

To top it all off, I actually have the honour of becoming the youngest person in Europe at the time to have privilege of playing PV (If its a record I no longer hold at the tender age of 14 years old and of a 10 handicap, that would no longer matter).

I do however hope that one day in the near future the opportunity will present itself again to re-live this memory and now that my handicap is a little tighter to 0 maybe I can break 100 :)

Pine Valley will, you always have a place in my heart.

Lewis Adams-Dunstan
Langdon Hills Golf Club
Handicap - 1

Anonymous said...

Can someone who is not a member or a guest of a member go to the clubhouse and buy some gear in the pro shop?

Top 100 Golfer said...

no. not even during the Crump Cup when they let visitors walk the course

NotYourAverageGolfer said...

I guess everyone else has tried so i might as well try this tactic as well. I'm 18 years old and 25 minutes from "The Valley". I have a few friends who work there but can't do anything to get me inside to play. If anybody gets the chance to play, and needs a fourth...