Pittsburgh Field Club – Course Review

First and foremost, I want to thank you for reading what is my first Golf Course Review.  I have chosen to review a course that is near and dear to my heart, Pittsburgh Field Club.  Before I review the golf course, I would like to give you some history on the member-only-private facility.

Pittsburgh Field Club’s prestigious history dates back to 1882 when a group of gentleman decided to start a club, Pittsburgh Cricket Club,  for people to join and play cricket. Unfortunately, the game of cricket did not become a popular sport the way that golf was so they decided to build a few golf holes on the original property in the Brushton area, a small borough just outside of downtown Pittsburgh.  As the game grew more popular an expansion of the club was inevitable so in 1915 the club was moved to where it currently resides in Fox Chapel, Pennslvania.  The original architect of the course is a legend by the name of Alexander Findlay.  Over the years the course has had many great architects (Donald Ross, Albert (A.W.) Tillinghast, Willie Park Jr., Emil Loeffler and John McGlynn, Bill Irvin, Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills, Craig Schreiner, Tripp Davis, Keith Foster) add their personal touch. The last of these, Keith Foster, completed a bunker renovation project in 2012 and the place is spectacular.

When you think of golf courses in Pittsburgh, what is the first course you think of?  If you didn’t think of Oakmont Country Club, OCC for short, I would love to hear what course you do think of & why you think of it first. After you read this blog and do some research I am hoping that Pittsburgh Field Club, PFC for short, will be next on your list.

I have had the pleasure of playing both OCC and PFC in my life. To be honest with you, not that I wasn’t impressed with OCC because it is absolutely everything everybody says it is, but I would rather play PFC daily.  As you make the turn into the golf course you drive up a steep hill and around some curves, likely thinking your lost.  All of the sudden you make a right turn and get smacked in the face with raw beauty.  The majestic clubhouse sits perched on top of a hill allowing you to see almost the entire golf course from the first tee and the back patio where you will find the members dining.  As you stand on the practice putting green you are given the opportunity to see the trek that lies ahead of you and it does nothing, but build the excitement. As you approach the first tee box, you find yourself standing atop of a hill staring at narrow strip of fairway with a bunker on the left and trees lining both sides of the fairway.  You are also blessed with a view of the steeple of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church.  I challenge you to find a better opening golf shot.

Photo was taken just below the tee box!
Hole #1 | Pittsburgh Field Club

So now that you have viewed the wonderful first tee shot you get a picture of what the course could look like, you’re likely asking yourself, “The rest of the course can’t be that good, can it?”

I am here to tell you the answer to that is without a doubt, YES!  The rest of the course is that good.  In my opinion it is a hidden gem because most people have never heard of it.  As you play the rest of the golf course you wind your way through the valley with little change in elevation except for Hole# 3 and Hole#10 where you find a steady incline from tee to green.  You will find that most of the holes are beautifully lined with just the right amount of trees.  It’s not as if you find yourself hitting out of the forest all day, but you can find yourself hitting a punch shot from time to time. The course itself plays to a Par 71 and roughly 6,650 yards from it’s black tees and 6,350 yards from the member tees.  Some of the standout holes in my opinion are Hole #’s 1,6,9,11,12,16,17, and 18.

As you are finishing your round of golf you are usually tired leaving the 17th green and the walk to the 18th tee can sometimes be a killer. Honestly the walk from 17 green to 18 tee at PFC has been storied to kill people.  It  would be a daunting task for the most in shape individuals. The members early in the clubs history felt its wrath, but today its a piece of cake.  You walk a few hundred feet from the green to an elevator shaft and take the elevator to a walking bridge which takes you through a canopy of the trees to the cart path near the 18th tee box. Yes, I just said elevator and walking bridge through the tree canopy.  It is one of the coolest experiences I have had as a golfer.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, it does!  How many places do you play that end on a Par 3?  Not many.  Out of those you have played how many of those finishing Par 3 holes actually look like it was meant to be?  Again, that number is likely very small.  Well those who have played PFC, know the 18th hole is a Par 3 and it looks like it has been there forever even though it has been redesigned four or five times.

If you ever have the opportunity I would highly recommend you taking the day off of work to go and play Pittsburgh Field Club.  You will not regret it, I promise you that. The greatest thing about the course is you never stand on a tee box and think to yourself, “Did I just play this hole?’  Each and every hole has its own character.  The course has a great mix of holes that you can make birdie as well as holes that par is a great score.   It will never leave you feeling like you hit the ball well, but got beat up all day and your score reflects that.  It is a very fair-enjoyable test of golf.

Oh and if you remember, ask somebody in the Professional Shop about “teventeen”!  A tiny piece of Insider information for you there!

Pittsburgh Field Club
Hole #18 Pittsburgh Field Club

Photo Credits: Opening Tee Shot (Stonehousegolf.com)

Author: Joe Merlin, PGA

Joe has been a professional in the golf industry since March 2009 and graduated from California University of Pennsylvania where he studied Professional Golf Management. His creative, unique, and outgoing personality allow him to be truly one of a kind in this industry.

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