Beautiful and Challenging Penn National Iron Forge Course


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

FORE Score, with an Abundance of Fine Golf.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


The site of the most celebrated battlefield of American Civil war, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a remarkable living museum taking guests back to the iconic battle that changed the history of the United States of America. A favorite destination to explore and experience the civil war history, the city sees thousands of visitors walk in the footsteps of heroic soldiers and soak in the amazing stories of the battles and aftermath of the conflict. While in town to visit the magnificent museum or traverse the battlefields,  sliding your clubs in the family van will offer you the chance to explore a trio of golf courses well worth the side trip.

Links at Gettysburg:
A few minutes south of Gettysburg, the rolling farmland lends itself to a premiere public play facility. The Links of Gettysburg was opened in 1999 and has been considered one of the area's must-plays ever since. Designed by Lindsay B. Ervin, the routing takes advantage of the differing landscapes found within this golf and residential development. Built on a rise adjacent to a long meandering bend in Rock Creek, the routing takes full advantage of the numerous  rugged exposed rock cuts, stark elevation changes and finishes with a stretch of holes navigating the river valley and an array of wetlands.

The course opens  with a trio of holes that highlight the rugged exposed rock outcrops presenting a pair of calculating holes where placement off the tee and distance control are critical. The third hole is a beauty; a downhill par 3 fronted by a babbling brook and framed in back by a red rock wall. The first taste of the river valley is one the high perch of the 7th tee deck. A challenging dogleg right lays in front of you daring you to cut the corner guarded by a pond. The 8th might be the best hole on the course. A short par 4. The left side is protected by a creek lined with trees, while the right is framed by another red rock wall and bunkers.


Plentiful Water to Add to the Challenge

The back nine is a opens with a pair of undulating holes that lead to the exacting collection of water holes to culminate the round. The par 3 12th is a massive island-like green complex with multiple tiers. The 15th plays as the longest of the par 3 holes, playing over a pond which wraps the left side of the green, it has one of the narrowest targets on the course. The par 4 16th requires a deft touch on your second shot. A creek interrupts the fairway 50 yards short of the green, making for a difficult approach. [Website]

The Bridges Golf Club:
A short drive east from Gettysburg leads to the village of Abbottstown and The Bridges Golf Club. Opened in 1995, the course was designed by Charles and Fredrick Atland who routed it over the rolling terrain incorporating a parkland feel to the round. The layout features many strong holes, that incorporates the creek running through the property or ponds and natural wetlands. The scorecard suggests the course is not tremendously long  by current standards, but the subtleties of the design and use of the natural landscape creates many holes that force layups or requires heroic swings to navigate. The collection of par 5 holes are both challenging and memorable. The snap dogleg right 5th hole requires a long drive to clear the corner and then a climb up to a hilltop green, while the par 5 15th is a beautiful downhill drive and layup shot played to a long narrow  green.  The standout shot of the round is found from the back tees on the par 3 11th. A long iron is needed to clear the native grasses between you and the green, while shaping the shot around a large willow tree protecting the front right.


The Uphill Challenge of Hole 5

The Bridges is also a great stay and play choice when visiting the area, offering their Guest Quarters, located in a converted 1800s furniture factory, for either a golf excursion  or a visit to the National Military Park. A choice of standard rooms, with two doubles or a queen and deluxe king with whirlpool tubs, takes care of the accommodation needs.  With a rustic wood grained decor, the Green Horizon Grill offers complimentary breakfast for guests.  Whether you visit is for a round of golf or a night stay on a package deal, the menu will provide everything your palate requires.  [Website]


Penn National Golf Club & Inn:
A half hour drive west the battlefields leads you to Penn National Golf Club. The area's only 36 hole facility, the complex is deeply rooted within the local history of nearby Chambersburg. Legend has it that Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B Stuart have paid a visit to the historic White Rock Manor House, which forms the centerpiece of the onsite Inn. With 52 rooms there is plenty of space for a family stay or a golf group. The Founders Grille, massage center,  pool and tennis facilities are available for guests staying at the Inn, allowing you to park the car and start relaxing.

The Founders Course is the original layout, opening in 1968. The course was designed by Edmund Ault and is characterized as a parkland style course. Tight tree lined corridors make up many of the holes with traditional push-up greens adding to the challenge. The par 5 dogleg right 14th requires three solid shots to navigate the turn and the pot bunkers in front of the figure eight shaped green. The 16th is a lengthy par 4 guarded by water along the left and behind the peninsula green.  The 17th is a heroic short hole all carry over a pond.


Founders Course at Penn National

The Iron Forge Course, opened in 1997,  offers a completely different experience. Nearly treeless, the routing takes you over a former iron mining site. Windswept and at the mercy of the conditions this Bill Love design features considerable elevation change making club selection and shot making a challenge. Undulating greens, many tucked tightly behind rock walls and ponds or heavily bunkered with steep fall aways make scoring a stern test. Compounded by the challenge of the mountain slopes confusing your read, the putting surfaces are certainly the strongest defenders of par on the course. Beautiful views of miles of pristine landscapes add to the experience and will be one not easily forgotten. [Website]
















































Links of Gettysburg: Hole 3































The Bridges: Hole 17