After our morning round we had an “all-day breakfast at a good ole boys American diner” before heading over to Wynote, our Pennsylvania stop. You probably have to be familiar with Top Gear UK for that quote to make any sense!
Wyncote has been on my Mid-Atlantic golf course wish list since I moved to the East Coast in 2012! I knew that we’d be near the course on this trip so I was anxious to make this our Saturday afternoon stop. The course always gets rated well by the golf magazines and it typically shows up in the top five public courses in PA each year. The course has a page dedicated to “accolades” so you can check that out if you’d like.
Wycote is conveniently located as it is in the middle of Baltimore, MD; Harrisburg, PA; and Philadelphia, PA. It is also a short drive north of I-95 so it would make a good stop if driving through! One nice thing about the course is that while it is convenient to millions of people, it has a secluded feel as it is out in the middle of some farmland. There are a couple homes that are visible, but they were set back and not a bother. The holes feature minor elevation changes which offer some nice views of the property.
Wyncote is a “links style” course with just a couple trees in play. That not only helps to enjoy the views of the farmland, but it also means that someone doesn’t have to hit it straight to find the fairways and greens! There are all sorts of lines that can be picked depending on the wind and how well someone is striking it. I used “links style” with quotation marks because Wyncote is still a very modern course (opened in 1993) that requires the ball in the air to get around as the designer intended.
The designer, Brian Ault, might sound like a familiar designer. He has done a lot of work in the Mid-Atlantic and works closely with Tom Clark though their company, Ault Clark & Associates. I don’t know enough about each individual, but if you’ve read my previous posts the greens at many of their courses are too severe for my liking. I’m happy to report that the slopes on these greens seemed fair!
We played the blue tees which play 72.3/135/6690 and the biggest challenge was avoiding all the fescue which separates most holes. The fescue was pretty much a guaranteed lost ball and even if I found it, I couldn’t advance it. I’m not sure if I should have played it as a hazard or not so if you are the rules type, check that out before you tee off. I’m not sure if the fescue could be cut down or just thinner, but both my friend and I agreed that we’d like to see it a bit more playable. Besides the fescue, narrower fairways and some semi-blind shots were responsible for the higher slope.
In short, the conditions at Wyncote were awesome. We paid $55 for our afternoon round and the conditions were reflective of a higher price, especially considering that the course isn’t too far from Philadelphia. The greens were smooth, quick, and receptive. The course played firm and I actually got some roll on my tee shots. The fairways were short and I always had a perfect lie. The only bad is that bunkers were a bit rocky.
We played in about 4 hours and 15 minutes which allowed us to hit the road with enough time to take in most of a ballgame in Baltimore. I’d say that Wyncote lived up to the hype! I hit a lot of average shots and had a chance to put together a good score which is one of the reasons why I liked it so much. If you are within a couple hours of the course and haven’t played it, then I’d suggest scheduling a trip.
#1 (521 yard par 5):
The 1st hole is a par 5 that could be a chance for a birdie to begin the round. The tee shot plays to a fairway that gently slopes from right to left and it plays a bit downhill. A draw could chase out leaving a chance to go for the green in two. There is a pond short and left of the green and the fairway narrows about that distance. If laying up make sure to keep it short of the pond. I think playing conservative into the green is the best play.
#2 (185 yard par 3):
The 2nd is the longest par 3 on the course and I made a mess of it! The angle and contour of the green set up best to receive a draw. The back left side of the green is tougher to access because of the angle, but a draw could release back there. I tried to hit the perfect shot when I should have played to the right half of the green in hopes of a two putt.
#3 (361 yard par 4):
The 3rd is a short par 4 that will most likely require a layup off the tee. The green is off to the right (near the 2nd tee) and the fairway runs out ~240 yards. The fairway slopes from left to right so I’d try to land the ball in the left half and let it feed right. The uphill approach plays over a creek. The green has some slope from back to front so I’d suggest being below the hole.
#4 (444 yard par 4):
The 4th is the #2 handicap and multiple things make it tough. It is a long par 4 that moves right and plays uphill. Plus, the fairway is narrow and most of it cannot be seen from the tee. I hit the fairway and had a chance to run the ball up onto the green which I liked. My friend missed the fairway and had to make a decision to try to carry a cross bunker short of the green. It falls off left of the green complex so make sure not to miss over there.
#5 (363 yard par 4):
The 5th is a short par 4 where a layup off the tee is probably the play. The fairway bunkers to the left are ~210 yards to carry and the one to the right is ~250 yards to get to. If someone can start the tee shot out at that building and turn it over that should be perfect! This is another green that falls off long and left. Any shot landing over there could get a bad bounce.
#6 (172 yard par 3):
The 6th is an uphill par 3. There might be some options depending on the pin location. It was playing into the wind and my friend and I played it different ways. I went first, hit an extra club, and basically chipped it through the narrow opening short of the green. My friend hit a high draw and we both had birdie putts. The green’s surface isn’t visible from the tee, so it could be a bit of a guess where to land the ball.
#7 (391 yard par 4):
The 7th is a mid-length par 4 that has another visually difficult tee shot. The green is almost straight ahead, but the tee shot should be played out to the left unless someone wants to carry the right fairway bunker (~220 yards). I aimed at the left fairway bunker which was ~250 yards to reach. From there I had a minor downhill lie into a green with a bowl at the very front and a back tier. Getting it on that back tier is going to require a bold shot.
#8 (379 yard par 4):
The 8th is a straightaway par 4 and it is the easiest hole on the course! There is some left to right slope in the fairway so I’d favor the left half of it. From there it could be just a short iron into a green that angles from front right to back left (and slopes the same way). That made the back left flag easier to access than expected. The difficulty could be the wind (I actually had a mid iron approach after a poorly hit tee shot) or hitting a draw from a fade lie.
#9 (566 yard par 5):
After playing the easiest hole on the course, the front nine closes with a demanding hole! The 9th is the longest of the par 5’s and moves right towards the clubhouse. It looks like the fairway will slope from left to right and I tried to favor the left half. Unfortunately for me, the fairway is pretty flat and my ball ran into the rough. That made the hole play extra long! I managed to get away with a par thanks to my short game so missing a couple shots isn’t a guaranteed bogey. My advice is to focus a bit extra on the drive and the layup because the fairway is narrower than expected (considering the length of the hole).
#10 (517 yard par 5):
The 10th is similar to the 1st in many ways, it is just on the opposite side of a creek and favors a fade instead of a draw. It is about the same distance, plays a bit downhill, and the pond up near the green can come into play. The tee shot is semi-blind but there is more room to the right than it looks from the tee. The fairway short of the green here is a bit wider than the the 1st so leaving a pitch into the green could be a good option. The green slopes from back to front and it is actually shared with the 1st.
#11 (426 yard par 4):
The 11th is a long par 4 and the #1 handicap. I hit a good tee shot, but it didn’t go too far because it was into the breeze. That left me with a long club into a green where missing short and left is the best spot. Even with a long approach, I still felt like I had a chance to knock it on the green in regulation. It played tough, but fair.
#12 (342 yard par 4):
The 12th is an interesting hole. The green is left of a creek while most of the fairway is to the right of it. The fairway on line with that white maintenance building runs out around 260 yards. There is some right to left slope in the fairway and the ball could land on a downhill section of it. So, I’d hit less club and aim more right than you’d think. From there it should be a short iron into a slightly elevated green which gets narrow on the right. Another option off the tee (a bit too risky if you ask me) is to go right at the green and try to carry it ~250 yards. There is a tiny little bit of fairway there and playing from it to a back right pin would be a great angle. I think the designer could have done more to make the left line rewarding, but it is a cramped part of the course.
#13 (401 yard par 4):
The 13th is another difficult par 4. There is a bunker ~220 yards that narrows the fairway and trouble both left and right. Some right to left slope in the fairway makes for a small landing area off the tee. I was out of position and short right of the green looked like a good spot to play from. It was and I didn’t have a difficult chip. The green moves around a greenside bunker so a draw is the best shape on the second. Make sure not to go over the green as there is plenty of fescue.
#14 (163 yard par 3):
The 14th is a pretty par 3 that plays to a green which is framed by the hillside in the background. I thought that it played at least half a club uphill and the pin was on a back shelf. If the pin wasn’t towards the back then it becomes a much easier hole.
#15 (342 yard par 4):
The 15th is a short par 4 and the green is up by that white house in the center of the picture. It is probably going to be a layup to a fairway that rises up to the green. The green slopes with the hillside from back to front so controlling the spin on the approach is important. It was an awkward little hole to play the first time around because I couldn’t visualize the best shots.
#16 (408 yard par 4):
The 16th moves left to another fairway that is pinches by some bunkers. The bunkers cannot easily be seen from the tee so I’d suggest looking at a GPS. The approach plays into a green where the right half is easier to access than the left.
#17 (180 yard par 3):
The 17th is a long par 3 that plays to a green which falls off short into a bunker and long towards some out of bounds. To avoid the trouble, a fade would probably be best.
#18 (529 yard par 5):
The 18th is the best par 5 on the course if you ask me! There is plenty of risk/reward. It is a tiny double dogleg that plays uphill. It plays shorter than the yardage if someone can take aggressive lines. I was able to carry the right edge of a fairway bunker (~200 to carry) and then went for the green in two. If going for it in two, then you are going to face a blind shot. The direct line to the green is probably over a cross bunker. If laying up then I’d try to play out to the left for the best angle.