Island Green Country Club in Philly
Very good course, good valueI had the pleasure of playing the Island Green Country Club in NE Philly on 7/15. After 2 pm the price drops to $39 per player, and I had a two-for-one coupon, so I and my buddy only paid $20 each! An absolute steal!
When the Philadelphia Inquirer reviewed this course, they made a big point of noting that it's the first new public course built in Philadelphia in some 37 years. This would lead one to believe that the course is similar to the muni's that are owned by the City of Philadelphia. NOTHING could be further from the truth. In fact, this course deserved to have the words "Country Club" in the name.
Standing on the first tee, I remember thinking, "Wow, I paid $20 to play this course?? I'm robbing them!" The fairways were green and lush, with a nice first cut to delineate the short grass from the rough. The fairways are tight-but not U.S. Open tight. The rough was thick but not incredibly penalizing. Still, I think I hit driver on maybe 6 holes total, and four of those were par-3's. The last time I saw excellent conditioning like this, I was in Hawai'i, playing K'Oolina Golf Club, and had just plunked down $160 for the privilege.
There are some very good golf holes, and the course feels very spread out. Unlike all the city-owned courses I play, the fairways aren't on top of each other. The greens are generally medium-sized to large, no huge, resort-style greens. And some of them undulate like crazy.
Of particular note is hole #5, a short 140-yard par-3 that’s mostly uphill. It plays from an elevated tee box, which gives you a funky feeling of being level with the green, but you’re not. To make things really interesting, the green slopes left to right at an impossibly steep angle. The day I played, the pin was just on the left edge, and I hit my ball in the left fringe. Turned out to be a good play, as my buddy hit his in the center of the green, only to have it roll into the rough. Ouch.
Of course, the signature hole is #11, from whence the club derives its name. The hole only plays 315 from the white tees, but of course there’s the pesky island green to deal with. Don’t smoke your drive here, or you’ll end up in the water. I took a Hybrid 4 and hit it about 80 yards from the green, but in the rough. No way was I gonna hit a sand wedge into the green, so I opted for pitching wedge. Splash! I failed to account for the slight uphill position of the green and my ball came up literally inches short of the island. We had a good laugh, though. This is one hole where you definitely want to out drive at least one of your playing partners, to see what club he/she uses. A really fun hole, it stacks up as one of the best in the area, bar none.
The other hole that really made me smile was #15, a 130-yard one-shotter that has a about 120-yards of carry completely over water. There’s water all on the left, and a cart path on the right. Fortunately, the green is one of the largest on the course, and it’s fairly flat. If you get the ball pin high, you have a good chance of making a birdie, which I did (one of only two on the day).
I really like this course, but I have one confession: I nearly broke 90 for the first time on this course (three putted on the last hole for 91...I CHOKED! LOL), so that may have influenced my positive review of the course. But it’s a definitely worth checking out, if you’re in the area.
Another note is that the staff at the pro shop is very nice (but harried-they get tons of rounds every day), and the rangers really do their job enforcing pace of play. I saw the ranger talk to the threesome in front of us on two separate occasions about speeding up, as they were delaying us and the group behind us. I think they may have skipped a hole, because when we got to #6 they’d disappeared.
All in all a wonderful experience, on a very good, bargain-priced golf course. I’ll play the course a couple more times this season, despite the fact that it’s a good 40-minute drive from my home, and I have three or four courses much closer than that. If you live in the Philly area, give it a try.
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