I always liked things that didn't pretend to be something they aren't.
If the representatives of the United States Golf Association were looking for a poster course to portray public links golf in America all they have to do is drive down Almshouse Road. As they approached the sign for Neshaminy Valley Golf Club and turned onto the one lane tree lined driveway they would strike gold.
Nothing fancy or pretentious here. The Neshaminy Valley pro shop and snack bar are set in the old barn left from the dairy farming days of the property. Today it hosts an 18-hole golf course that is straight forward no nonsense golf, open and available at affordable prices for anyone who walks in. There won't be any US Opens here, nor were there ever thoughts of that.
Charles Schneider, Sr., who once played on the PGA Tour, started it all back in 1969. Today a third generation of Schneider's continue to own and operate the facility and maintain a friendly comfortable atmosphere. The pro shop doesn't sport racks of cloths and clubs and the people who go there aren't looking for that kind of thing. They come time and time again to play golf.
The first tee lays out a straightaway par 4 of 364 yards from the white tees. There are no blue or championship tees, only basic white (6014 yards), yellow (5534 yards) and red (4747 yards). It's a nice hole to get your game going early.
The second hole used to be a shortish downhill par 3 right on the edge of the property on Almshouse Road. In the mid 90's it was taken out due to too many stray golf balls and cars meeting where the cars were the losers. To accommodate this change the front nine was reconfigured and a new par 3 was created in the form of today's sixth hole. "It is the toughest hole on the course," said Jim Schneider, "because it is all carry." This hole and the redesign that shortened the 7th hole were laid out by the Schneiders.
The former third hole, a par 5 of 529 yards, became the second hole. It gently bends left hugging OB down the entire left side as it presents a challenge of distance and accuracy. Over time a drainage ditch that crossed the fairway and caught its share of balls was filled in. A bell is in place because landing area for tee shots cannot be seen from the tee. It is accepted practice to ring the bell to give notice to golfers on the tee that it is safe to fire away.
A par 3 of 170 yards with the green surrounded by trees and a couple of par 4's of 414 and 390 yards take you to the new par 3 sixth hole.
Getting to the midway point in your round requires negotiating the 537-yard par 5 straightaway ninth hole which is guarded by a pond that is set short right of the green. The pond requires some strategic thinking in playing to the green.
Nancy Thomas manages a comfortable snack bar where you can catch a beverage on the way up the hill to the 10th tee and the back nine. Jim Schneider said there are no plans for extensive changes but there is some thought being given to adding bunkers to the 1st, 4th and 11th holes. For the later it would be more to keep balls from going onto and over the road that separates the first and 11th holes.
Both Jim and George Schneider say the 12th hole is their favorite. It is a downhill tee shot that is cut off by a drainage area about 240 from the white tee. A double level green is set uphill from there at a right angle. Miss the green and par is surely a difficult score to get.
In the past the 14th and 15th holes bordering the Little Neshaminy Creek would wash out with heavy rains. Management has completed some drainage work and the problem has been corrected, enhancing the playing experience.
The greens were in excellent condition when I was there but not cut too short because of the extreme hot and dry weather the area has been subjected to this summer. The fairways and tees were also in good shape considering the weather conditions and the fact that this public layout has no extensive watering system. Overall it was a fun place to play and a good course for beginners and senior golfers.
"They call this a short course," Jim Schneider said, "but it measures over 6,000 yards and we have some long holes here that are a challenge."
Those holes require you to use all the clubs in the bag.
A challenge and fun to play.