Golf Digest Videos

Every Hole at Pine Valley Golf Club

Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde takes you on a hole-by-hole journey of Pine Valley, the #1 golf course in America.

Released on 12/14/2017

Transcript

00:01
[Jerry] It's almost as hard to find Pine Valley
00:03
as it is to play it.
00:04
The number one golf course in America,
00:06
as ranked by Golf Digest,
00:08
is not on the cliffs of Pebble Beach,
00:10
or off the fashionable shores of the Hamptons.
00:12
It's in Southwest New Jersey, off the interstate.
00:16
You head to the Clementon amusement park and take a left.
00:19
Those railroad tracks on your right,
00:20
are reminiscent of how George Crump,
00:22
the founder and amateur architect
00:25
discovered the prehistoric terrain
00:27
on the way to Atlantic City.
00:29
It was his vision that became and remains Pine Valley.
00:34
This is Every Hole at Pine Valley.
00:39
The first is a majestic opener,
00:41
classic risk reward off the tee
00:43
with a sandy hazard on the turn
00:45
that reaches out and grabs a fade.
00:47
It sets up an approach shot
00:48
that must be straight and hold high.
00:50
Left, right, or long, and you may be happy
00:52
to make a double bogey.
00:54
[dramatic rhythmic music]
00:58
The second is the longest,
00:59
most treacherous 368 yards in golf.
01:02
Church pew bunkers run up both sides of the fairway
01:05
to a rising hill with a lunar scape of sand pits.
01:08
You can only see the top of the flag stick.
01:11
The green is even more perilous.
01:13
A missed shot is a death sentence.
01:15
As the members say, welcome to Pine Valley.
01:18
[dramatic guitar music]
01:22
The par-3s here have been called the best set
01:24
of short holes in the world.
01:25
Here's the third, 198 yards from the tips,
01:28
over the gnarliest topography, to a skull shaped green.
01:32
Jay Sigel once seven-putted it in the Crump Cup.
01:39
Four is the longest par-4 on the course at 499 yards.
01:43
Half of it a blind carry off the tee,
01:45
trundling over a hill with short across bunkers
01:49
to an immense green that runs away from you.
01:51
Keep in mind, the clubhouse is in play.
01:56
Every tee shot presents a new challenge
01:58
and the most difficult might be at number five,
02:01
the Frankenstein of par-3's.
02:04
Gene Littler made a newspaper 7 on this hole
02:07
in a match against Byron Nelson for the first episode
02:10
of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf,
02:12
which comes as no surprise to any golfer
02:15
who misses it right.
02:17
The new complex of bunkers set into the hill,
02:19
left of the green, is where many players hit it today.
02:22
From there, they skull it over in Littler territory,
02:25
before picking it up for their own newspaper 7.
02:28
[dramatic guitar music]
02:33
The new championship tee at number six
02:35
restores the full value of its heroic cape design.
02:38
On most of the holes, just a pretty good shot
02:40
is of no use at all, Crump said.
02:43
He wanted a course that would test the best players
02:46
to their limit and make them better.
02:51
The seventh is the longest hole on the course,
02:53
636 yards from the back with Hell's Half Acre, the hazard,
02:57
at its mid point.
02:59
You might say there are no bunkers at Pine Valley.
03:01
Pine Valley is one big bunker
03:03
with occasional patches of grass.
03:05
There also are no rakes at Pine Valley.
03:08
Golfers are asked to smooth their deepest foot prints,
03:10
but otherwise the sand is left
03:12
to be tended by wind and rain.
03:16
Its right about now, you notice the water tower,
03:18
decorated as a Dutch inspired windmill.
03:21
Today, it doubles as a halfway house
03:23
for beverages, and snacks, and a handful of ibuprofen.
03:30
Tom Watson's favorite hole is the eighth.
03:32
Stretching only to 326 yards, with two greens,
03:36
the wedge approach, side hill, downhill, off a thin lie,
03:40
to an uphill spit of slopey green,
03:43
with a false front is wicked.
03:47
Often overlooked are the greens, massive on some holes,
03:50
postage stamps on others, frozen waves, rumpled blankets,
03:55
elephant burial grounds, impossible to read
03:58
without advice from the club's famously quirky caddies.
04:01
The aim of a putt may be 90 degrees
04:03
from a straight line to the hole.
04:05
Green speeds reach scary-fast at tournament time,
04:09
as quick as 12 to 13 on the stimpmeter.
04:14
The 458 yard ninth has two greens as well.
04:18
A recent renovation here returns the left
04:20
to an infinity green with only sky behind it,
04:23
making the approach even more intimidating.
04:27
The most recent Fazio changes throughout the course
04:29
involve tree removal, opening up the visuals
04:32
and exposing more sand.
04:34
Tees were moved back, holes got harder,
04:37
George Crump's vision endured.
04:42
Then there's the hole we've been waiting for.
04:44
The short tenth, only 142 yards from the middle tee,
04:49
a bowl of Breyer's Ice Cream, but wait,
04:51
what is that darkened aperture short-right?
04:54
It's the bottomless pit,
04:56
known in-elegantly throughout the golfing world
04:59
as the Devil's Asshole.
05:01
No golfer has ever walked past it without stopping to stare
05:04
into its gravitational pull.
05:08
It's said Pine Valley is the only course in the world
05:11
with 18 great holes, not an indifferent one among them.
05:16
Each is a separate masterpiece, like the lovely 11th here.
05:19
Framed apart from all the others,
05:21
a snowman waiting to happen,
05:23
and upon playing the course only once,
05:25
you can remember every hole distinctly.
05:32
The 12th hole is a drive and pitch,
05:34
but most golfers can't help themselves
05:36
from taking too aggressive a line off the tee.
05:39
Hit it anywhere but left,
05:41
and Pine Valley might yield it's easiest birdie.
05:44
There have even been a few holes-in-one on this par-4,
05:47
one by a caddie.
05:51
Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design,
05:54
heroic, penal, and strategic, over the whole course,
05:58
often on a single hole.
06:01
For rugged grandeur, 13 may be the best of the best,
06:04
486 yards, first to a perched landing area on the right,
06:09
then a long second sweeping left,
06:11
with death or glory at hand.
06:14
Today, it takes me three to get on it too.
06:18
14 on any other course, likely would be its signature hole,
06:22
but just one of 18 at Pine Valley.
06:24
From a complex of elevated tees,
06:27
it plays downhill over a beach bunker to an island green.
06:30
When you walk off, invariably there's a call of fore,
06:33
as incoming balls bomb the 15th tee from behind.
06:37
The bridge there is a famous one.
06:39
Legend has it that Bobby Jones in 1930,
06:42
came to Pine Valley to practice for the final leg
06:44
of the Grand Slam at Merion.
06:46
He was in a slump until this hole.
06:49
When he set foot off the bridge,
06:50
he said, it was magically,
06:51
as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
06:54
The slump was over and he went on to win the amateur
06:57
in golf's only Grand Slam.
07:01
It might have been 15 that the other Jones, Robert Trent,
07:04
had in mind, when he called Pine Valley
07:06
the most difficult course in the world.
07:08
For most of us, this par-5 requires
07:10
four full shots and a putt.
07:13
Is it unfair at times, maybe so,
07:15
but isn't that the ultimate test.
07:17
Can a player hit a good shot,
07:19
only to be crushed by a horrific result,
07:22
then still find it within him or herself
07:24
to rise to the occasion of the next one.
07:28
Where to aim your tee shot on 16 decides your fate.
07:32
Pine Valley will not be
07:33
for the novice or the timid player,
07:35
said Tillinghast, a member.
07:37
George C Thomas said, Pine Valley's charm is the thrill
07:40
of surmounting its varied hardships.
07:43
Countered Bernard Darwin, The right of eternal punishment
07:46
should be reserved for a higher authority.
07:50
The round nears the end
07:51
with a delicate dog-leg right, the 17th.
07:53
Kind of a sister hole to the second,
07:55
make sure your drive is on the short grass.
07:58
The approach is uphill, over craters of bunkers
08:01
and you wanna keep your putt
08:02
below the hole to have any chance.
08:07
Then a brute of a finish,
08:09
arguably the finest 18th hole anywhere.
08:12
The tee shot is elevated, a long carry from the back.
08:16
The second shot is over sand, and water, and sand again,
08:19
upward to the home green, where golfers bloodied and bowed,
08:24
doth their caps and shake hands.
08:26
The round is done, repair to the clubhouse.
08:30
I think there's a nobility to the place,
08:32
owed in part to its scale, 600 plus acres,
08:36
and if you haven't had enough,
08:37
this men's club has a 10 hole short course,
08:40
and the best practice range in captivity.
08:43
You will never forget it or any of its holes,
08:45
all the days of your life.
08:47
Pine Valley, the greatest golf course in America.
08:50
[dramatic guitar music]
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