Review: Philadelphia Cricket Club – Militia Hill Course

Course Name: Philadelphia Cricket Club – Militia Hill Course

Designer: Dr. Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry (2002)

Location: Fort Washington, Pennsylvania

History: Philadelphia Cricket Club was founded in February, 1854 and is the oldest country club in America. After about forty years of primarily cricket, the first golf course opened in 1895 and was designed by Willie Tucker. This course, now known as St. Martins, hosted the U.S. Open in 1907 and 1910 and is currently 9 holes. In 1920, the Club commissioned one of its members, A.W. Tillinghast, to design a championship course (Wissahickon), which was completed in nearby Flourtown in 1922. In 1999, the Board of Governors chose Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry to design a third course at the Cricket Club, which opened in 2002. This new course is named Militia Hill after the Pennsylvania Militia, who camped nearby before Valley Forge in the Revolutionary War. The Militia Hill Course is dedicated to Willie Anderson, four-time U.S. Open Champion and early Pro at the Cricket Club. In 2015, the National PGA Professional Championship was held at both the Wissahickon and Militia Hill courses.

Conditions: 9/10, Just like its sistering courses, the Militia Hill Course is in immaculate shape with lush fairways and teeboxes, well-manicured bunkers, and fast Bent greens rolling about a 12.

Value: N/A, This is a private course.

Scorecard:

Tee                                 Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

I                                      72           7227               74.8              133

I/II                                  72           6998               73.5              132

II                                    72           6795               72.7              130

II/III                               72           6535               71.6              128

III                                   72           6313               70.7              124

III/IV                              72           5721               68.0              120

IV                                   72           5449               72.6              125

Hole Descriptions: Rising architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry have made quite the mark in the golf world recently with their designs at Erin Hills and Calusa Pines, and I was very excited to play my first course of theirs heading into Militia Hill.

Militia Hill is a long course, measuring 7227 yards from the I Tees, which I foolishly played because the players I played with are all plus handicaps. Apparently, the course usually plays firm and fast, but recent rains had soaked it, making it play closer to 7500 yards the day I played. Needless to say, I don’t think I used my 7 iron-pitching wedge more than a handful of times. I was told Militia Hill was a “bomber’s paradise” and this is definitely true, as most holes you can rip driver with little fear.  The defining feature of the Militia Hill Course is the bunkering, which can best be described as four-leaf clover shaped. I found this bunkering very aesthetically pleasing, but a bit repetitive on every single hole.

In summary, the Militia Hill Course is a very nice modern course that both low and high handicappers will enjoy given the seven different teebox options. While not as memorable or full of strategy as the Wissahickon Course, I really enjoyed my round here and members of the Cricket Club are very fortunate to have a “B” course better than most club’s primary course.

The opening hole is a 410 yard par 4 that plays downhill as a slight dogleg right. From an elevated teebox, you’ll need a carry of 185 yards to reach this fairway. This hole is very open with the only real danger being a large bunker on the left at 250 yards and right at 300 yards. This approach plays to a small back-to-front sloped green with deep bunkers on either side.

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The par 4 1st – notice the characteristic bunkering

At 405 yards, the par 4 2nd is an interesting hole and unique as the only hole on the course without a bunker. This hole plays as a slight dogleg left with another generous fairway. At about 300 yards, this fairway ends and a creek bisects the hole. From this point, the hole runs straight uphill to a severely elevated green that runs hard back-to-front.

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The par 4 2nd
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The intimidating uphill approach on 2

After a long walk/cart ride under a road, you cross over to the Flourtown side of the course, which features holes 3-9. The par 5 3rd hole is my favorite hole at the Militia Hill Course and arguably their signature hole. At 538 yards, this medium length three-shotter features a narrow fairway with OB far right and a bunker on the left at 250 yards. About 190 yards short of this green, the fairway narrows and turns left with a pond on the left. The green lies directly behind this water and those going for it in two will have an exhilarating shot over the hazard. This green is guarded short by a bunker and numerous tights slopes on all sides. I absolutely loved the white cliff backdrop on this approach.

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View from the 3rd teebox
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The gorgeous approach on 3

The 4th is the shortest par 4 at Militia Hill but don’t expect too much of a break at 391 yards. This is another great hole that plays as an “L” with a straight downhill drive from an elevated teebox and then another slice of fairway directly to the right over a creek. Longer hitters can cut the corner and aim for the other side of the creek, but that requires a carry of at least 270 yards. For those that choose the conservative route, beware of going long through the fairway, where three bunkers await at 280 yards. This green is guarded by a large bunker on the right.

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The par 4 4th gives the golfer options

At 188 yards, the 5th is the first par 3 at Militia Hill. This hole plays slightly uphill to a large green guarded by a bunker right and a giant deep bunker down the left.

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The par 3 5th

The par 5 6th is the number 1 handicap and a beast of a hole at 578 yards. This hole plays straightaway on the drive to a generous fairway open on the left and lined by OB and bunkers on the right between 210 and 260 yards. At this point, the hole turns right and uphill with numerous bunkers on the way including a monstrous one 170 yards short of the green on the right and one on the left 100 yards short. This green slopes hard back-to-front with a small bunker in front.

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The par 5 6th

At 447 yards, the 7th is a long, straightaway par 4 with a tight fairway guarded by forest right and a bunker on the left at 250 yards. Most golfers will have mid-to-long iron into this slightly elevated green with a small bunker long and devastating deep bunker short left.

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Don’t miss left on the 7th approach

At 404 yards, the par 4 8th is another straightaway hole with a tight fairway lined by forest far right, a bunker right at 240 yards, and a bunker left at 290 yards. This circular green is guarded by a bunker short and right.

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The par 4 8th

The closing hole on the front side is a stout par 3 and the longest one at 244 yards. Playing slightly downhill, this bland yet difficult hole features a large, receptive green guarded by bunkers on either side and a hazard long right.

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The beastly par 3 9th

After crossing back under the road, you reach the 10th, a pretty uphill 420 yard par 4. As you may have surmised by the lighting in my photos, we actually started on this hole, and I was thankful given the wide fairway. The only danger on this drive is a large bunker on the right at 250 yards. This approach plays at least one club uphill to a tiny, undulating green guarded by a bunker right.

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The par 4 10th

At 160 yards, the par 3 11th is the shortest hole at Militia Hill and undoubtedly one of the best chances for birdie. This picturesque one-shotter plays slightly downhill to a large two-tiered green guarded by giant bunkers.

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The par 3 11th

The 12th is another par 4 on the shorter side at 397 yards. This hole plays straightaway to a tight fairway lined by bunkers on the left at 210 and 240 yards and a long one down the right at 250 yards. OB far left looms for those who venture well offline. This approach plays downhill to an undulating green guarded by a bunker left and steep slopes left and long.

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The par 4 12th isn’t long but it’s one of the tougher driving holes

At 475 yards, the 13th is the longest par 4 on the course and is a good example of a “hard par, easy bogey” hole. This straightaway hole suits the eye well from an elevated teebox to a generous fairway lined by rough on the right and OB down the entire left side. There’s a cloverleaf bunker on the right at 300 yards, but this wasn’t in play for me from the I Tees. This approach plays back uphill to a large green guarded by a bunker left. You won’t find many ballmarks on this one!

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The gorgeous par 4 13th

Sandwiched between the 13th and 17th fairways, the 529 yard par 5 14th is another hole where you can absolutely grip it and rip it with driver. Outside of a bunker at 290 yards, this hole is wide open. The most noteworthy aspect of this risk/reward par 5 comes on the second shot as a creek bisects this hole about 100 yards short of the green. From here, the hole runs straight uphill to an elevated green tucked behind a bunker and tree. This hole is definitely reachable, but it requires two good swings to avoid disaster.

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From just short of the creek on 14

Playing blind uphill at 227 yards, the 15th is the final par 3 on the course and a very difficult one at that. This large green is guarded by a bunker short right.

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The par 3 15th

The 16th is one of the easier par fours at Militia Hill at just 394 yards downhill. This is another beautiful hole with a generous fairway except for a bunker on the left at 230 yards. This approach plays towards a right-to-left sloping green guarded by a bunker short.

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The par 4 16th
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Approach at 16

The 17th completes a very strong set of par fives as the longest hole on the course at 585 yards. Playing downhill with a carry of 200 yards over marshland, this hole features a wide fairway lined by thick rough and a bunker on the left at 310 yards. The lay-up here is difficult, with two large bunkers constricting the fairway about 120 yards short of this green. This green runs back-to-front with deep bunkers long and right.

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The 17th features another gorgeous and inviting teeshot

The closing hole plays back towards the clubhouse as a longer and more severe version of the 2nd. At 435 yards, this par 4 plays as a difficult uphill dogleg left with a generous fairway that runs out at about 300 yards. From here, this approach plays over a creek straight uphill to a shallow back-to-front sloped green guarded by a bunker short.

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The uphill par 4 18th

General Comments: The Militia Hill Course has a small clubhouse and patio and a small practice green near the 1st tee. Most golfers hit balls and practice their short game next door at the Wissahickon Course. Philadelphia Cricket Club’s main clubhouse is in Chestnut Hill with the St. Martin’s Course and is one of the most expansive I’ve seen, with a full gym, beautiful grass tennis courts, cricket fields (obviously), and pretty much anything else you’d imagine a country club should have.

Pace of play was very strong at the Militia Hill Course, and it was much less busy than Wisshickon. Caddies are available, but aren’t required. I also imagine this course is much more cart-friendly than Wissahickon.

Verdict: While not as memorable or strategic as its sister Wissahickon Course, the Militia Hill Course is a welcome addition to the storied Philadelphia Cricket Club. This lengthy modern course is a bomber’s paradise with beautiful bunkering and conditions as good as you’ll find anywhere. This “B” course is better than many club’s primary courses.


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