Architect(s): Dick Wilson (1958); Arnold Palmer & Ed Seay (1980s-present)
Year Opened: 1959
Location: Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Slope: 148. Rating: 75.7
Par: 72
Yardage: 7,325
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 416 Yds    10 - Par 4 432 Yds
                      2 - Par 4 410 Yds    11 - Par 5 605 Yds
                      3 - Par 5 534 Yds    12 - Par 4 447 Yds
                      4 - Par 4 455 Yds    13 - Par 4 432 Yds
                      5 - Par 3 208 Yds    14 - Par 3 205 Yds
                      6 - Par 5 524 Yds    15 - Par 4 375 Yds
                      7 - Par 4 388 Yds    16 - Par 4 437 Yds
                      8 - Par 3 221 Yds    17 - Par 3 219 Yds
                      9 - Par 4 480 Yds    18 - Par 5 537 Yds
                      Par 36  3,636 Yds     Par 36  3,689 Yds

Awards Won: Named 59th by Golf Digest's America's 100 Great Golf Courses,
            Named 4th by Golf Digest's Best in State (PA) Rankings.

Events Held: PGA Championship (1965),
             National Four-Ball Tournament (1970),
             National Team Championship (1971-72),
             Ryder Cup (1975),
             U.S. Senior Open (1989),
             Marconi Pennsylvania Classic (2001),
             Senior PGA Championship (2005).

HISTORY:  In  a short period of  time, relatively speaking, Laurel Valley Golf
Club  has  grown into  a place  of history.  Just five  years after the course
opened,  western Pennsylvania  native Arnold Palmer was instrumental in having
the  club  host the 1965 PGA  Championship. Heading into the final round, Dave
Marr  and  Tommy Aaron shared  the lead at  four-under par. While Aaron faded,
Marr  played steady  and held a one-shot  lead with one hole remaining. On the
then par-four 18th, Marr laid up short of the water fronting the green after a
hooked  tee shot into  a fairway bunker and then hit a nine-iron to three feet
to  save par  and a two-shot win  over Billy Casper and Jack Nicklaus. The big
winner  was  the course however,  as the field played  to a scoring average of
75.46  with  only five  players shooting  par or better  for the week. Palmer,
playing  in his backyard,  as he was born and raised in nearby Latrobe, failed
to  break 72 and tied for 33rd. It came as no surprise that the 21st Ryder Cup
would  be held at  Laurel Valley, as you guessed it, Arnold Palmer would serve
as  captain of  the United States squad.  Led by Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin and
Tom  Weiskopf, the  Americans dominated  the  players from  Great Britain  and
Ireland  to  the tune of 21-11.  Nicklaus and Weiskopf dusted off Brian Barnes
and Bernard Gallacher in the opening match, as the U.S. stormed out to a 6 1/2
to  1  1/2 day one advantage.  Surprisingly, Nicklaus was later beaten in both
singles  matches by Barnes. Irwin posted a 4-0-1 mark, while Weiskopf was 4-0.
The  USGA  made its first and  only stop to  Laurel Valley in 1989, as Orville
Moody  claimed  the U.S. Senior Open.  Moody charged into the forefront with a
third-round  64  and finished the event  with a two-shot win over Frank Beard.
With  the  title, Moody became  only the fourth player  to win both the Senior
Open  and  U.S. Open, which  he captured  in 1969. Moody  shot 70 in the final
round, keyed by an eagle three on the par-five sixth. Despite all of his local
knowledge,  Palmer  could do no better  than a tie  for 53rd. In 2001, the PGA
Tour  made an  appearance at  Laurel Valley,  as Robert  Allenby captured  the
Pennsylvania  Classic. Trailing  by four shots after round one, Allenby carded
scores  of 65-66-68 to post a three-shot win over local favorite Rocco Mediate
and  Larry Mize. During the event, Stuart Appleby, Kevin Sutherland and Robert
Gamez  set the competitive course record of 64. Mediate was the only player in
the  field to post all four rounds in the 60s. Set in the western Pennsylvania
Laurel  Highlands, Laurel  Valley sits  upon  260 acres  between Laurel  Ridge
Mountain  and  Chestnut Ridge Mountain.  The land, originally owned by Richard
King  Mellon, was  given to one of  the country's best architects at the time,
Dick  Wilson  to design a masterpiece.  Wilson, who designed such classic's as
Pine  Tree in  Florida and  NCR South  in Ohio,  called the  tract of  rolling
grassland,  "the most  natural, beautiful  site I  have ever  seen for  a golf
course."  Palmer, who  has been  part of  this club's  rich history  since its
inception,  has  continued to add  various enhancements  to the club since the
early  60s,  as  15  holes  have  been  altered  or  modified,  including  the
construction  of an  entirely new  10th hole.  PGA of  America President  M.G.
Orender called Laurel Valley, "one of this country's premier venues."

REVIEW:  As you stand on the first tee, the hole offers an outstanding view of
the  town of  Ligonier. A straightaway par-four, the first plays downhill to a
fairway  flanked on both sides by sand. Just a three-metal is required as your
opening  shot,  setting up  a medium-  to short-iron  to a  green that is well
guarded by sand and features three distinct ridges in the surface. A big drive
on  the first could set up a little wedge, however, miss the fairway at Laurel
Valley and the deep penal rough will take you from birdie to bogey in a hurry.
From the back tee, the second bends slightly to the left and puts a premium on
the  tee shot.  Five fairway bunkers guard  both sides of the landing area, so
three-metal  should  once again  be the play.  A short-iron will  be left to a
green  fronted by a  pond, with bunkers right and deep. The putting surface is
only 27 yards deep, but is two-tiered and slopes from back-to-front. Miss long
and  you'll  be lucky to stay  on the green. Take  par and move on. A definite
birdie  chance,  the third is the  first par-five on the course. This 534-yard
dogleg  right, requires  an accurate tee ball,  so as to avoid the two 20-yard
bunkers  on the right and 30-yard pit on the left. The green can be reached in
two,  but sand protects the front and left and water guards the back right. If
you  layup,  a mid-iron will leave  80-100 yards, as  long as your left of the
bunkers  that  are place  strategically on  the right.  The putting surface is
slightly  elevated,  long (31  yards deep)  and quite narrow.  I would have to
concur  that the fourth hole is the most difficult on the course. At 430 yards
and  doglegging to  the right, this hole  is a bear. Not only that, Palmer and
his  design  team, added a  new back tee and  re-positioned the bunkers on the
right to come more into play. After a successful tee shot, a mid- to long-iron
awaits to a green that slopes from back-to-front. So much so, that if you miss
above  the hole,  you will most likely three-putt. The putting surface is well
guarded  by sand, so make your par and go forward. The first of four 200 yard-
plus  par-three's, the  fifth requires a long-iron to a long and narrow green.
Pinpoint  accuracy is  a must,  as the  putting surface  is protected  by four
difficult  bunkers and  the green itself is slick and undulating. The theme on
the  sixth is  sand.  Although  a definite  birdie  opportunity, the  par-five
features  sand  guarding both sides of  the fairway off the tee, then numerous
bunkers  in the layup  zone and a host of troubling sand around the green. The
putting  surface can  be reached in two,  but the green is one of the smallest
targets  on  the course,  at just 26  yards in depth.  The surface slopes from
left-to-right  and leaves no margin for error, especially with a back-left pin
placement.  One of  only  two  par-fours under  400  yards  long, the  seventh
typifies  the  beauty of Laurel  Valley. A three-metal or long-iron, depending
upon the wind is needed for a successful tee shot, as a lake stands 275 yards.
60  yards  worth of  sand bunkers guard  the left side,  while trees guard the
right.  A  short-iron will  remain to this  uphill green that  is guarded by a
second  pond to the left and sand right and deep. The putting surface is quite
large  at  37 yards and slopes  severely from back-to-front. Birdies are quite
possible,  however, if  above the hole, you'll have a tough time making bogey.
Although the eighth hole is quite long, it's not the length that will get you,
it's  the green.  There's no doubt you'll need a long-iron or fairway-metal on
this  par-three, however the putting surface is 39 yards in depth and features
three  different  levels. Four  deep colorful  bunkers guard  all sides of the
green,  so  making birdie or  par for  that matter is  quite rare. One of most
difficult holes on the course was made harder, as the ninth has a new back tee
and  the fairway bunkers were pinched in to shorten the landing area. Just for
good  measure, the  hole plays uphill and  into the wind. Not quite the recipe
for  par. A well-placed  tee shot will leave a long-iron to a two-tiered green
that  slopes to the front and is guarded by sand in the front, left and right.
The ninth could be the finishing hole at any club in the country.

The back nine is even longer than the front by some 117 yards, so when you get
the chance, take advantage of the so-called easy holes. The tenth can fit that
category,  as it  plays drastically downhill and doglegs to the right. Bunkers
at the left corner have been brought in to tighten the fairway and trees and a
stream  that  leads to the  green guard  the right side.  A solid tee shot can
leave  a  medium- to  short-iron, however  the green is  quite narrow and with
water  looming  right, watch out.  The putting surface  is slick, as it slopes
back-to-front  with a ledge  in the center. This hole is pure poetry in motion
with  the water  cascading down and the  floral designs. The 11th is a mammoth
par-five  of 605  yards and completely different than its original design. The
hole  was a dogleg  right and has been altered to be a dogleg left, with a new
fairway  carved to the north. Your tee shot must favor the right side, as most
shots  will move  to the left due  to the fairway slope. From here, the player
has  a couple of options. One, go for the green in two or layup at the 140-150
yard  mark. First off,  going for the green is quite risky, as the second shot
plays  severely downhill and  features a bunker 44 yards short of the green in
the  center  of the  fairway, so  run-up shot is  eliminated. A medium-iron to
layup would be appropriate, to avoid the severe downhill lie if you try to get
greedy.  The putting surface  is quite long and is quite receptive to a short-
iron  that will set up a birdie. From the top of the hill looking down towards
the  green,  the player is  afforded the luxury  of the scenic surroundings of
Ligonier  Valley and  Laurel Highlands. The longest par-five is followed up by
the  longest  par-four on the course,  the 12th. This downhill brute, features
four  bunkers  strategically placed to guard  the landing area, as the fairway
narrows  280  yards from the  tee. A quality tee  shot to this rolling fairway
will  leave  a medium- to  short-iron to the biggest  green on the course. The
putting  surface, 41 yards  deep, slopes to the left and is protected by three
daunting bunkers. Sometimes, bogey is not such a bad score. Another great par-
four  awaits, as you reach the 13th tee. A series of bunkers guard this slight
dogleg  to the  right and a large oak  tree protects the left. Even a tee shot
that bails left to avoid the sand, can be blocked by the oak. A medium-iron is
left  to a green that is just 22 yards deep, but very wide. Four bunkers guard
the  surface, with  a back-right the most difficult of all pin placements. The
14th is a fun par-three that can play as short as 140 yards or as long as 205.
The  not so fun part, is that a lake runs from tee to green, so club selection
is  quite  key here. The putting  surface is very difficult, wide, shallow and
features many undulations with three bunkers behind the green. The 14th starts
a  string of four  of the final five holes where water comes into play. One of
the  most difficult  driving holes on the  course, the 15th is only 375 yards,
but requires the utmost of accuracy. A lake guards the left side of the dogleg
and two bunkers and trees protect the right. A long-iron or fairway-metal must
hit  the right side of the fairway to leave an unobstructed view of the green.
The  putting surface  is the narrowest on  the course, but is quite long at 35
yards  in depth. The  green funnels toward the center and slopes to the front,
so be below the hole for a solid chance at birdie. It will take a drive of 240
yards  plus  to carry the water  and the corner  of the dogleg right 16th. The
eighth  and  last 400-yard plus  par-four, the player  must be precise off the
tee,  as to  avoid the bunker down the  left side of the fairway. A medium- to
long-iron  will be needed to reach the uphill green that plays longer than the
yardage indicates. One of the toughest greens to hit with three difficult sand
bunkers  playing sentry. Par  on any day is a good score here. The last of the
par-three's,  the  17th plays  slightly uphill,  and usually  into the wind. A
long-iron  is  required to  reach the small,  well-bunkered green. The putting
surface slopes from left-to-right and back-to-front, so bail out right. You'll
have  a  better chance of  getting up-and-down  from the sand than two-putting
from the left side. One of the most dramatic holes in golf, the 18th at Laurel
Valley  can produce a scoring range from three to eight. To have any chance at
eagle,  the  tee shot  must be  long and favor  the right  side. This might be
difficult  however, as a series of bunkers play guardian. The second shot must
then  carry  over water and trees  some 240 yards,  not an easy chore. To make
birdie  the old fashioned way, play down the left side off the tee, layup with
a  medium iron  and hit your wedge  to within 10 feet. Three bunkers have been
added  to the  left side of the  layup zone, just for a little discomfort. The
putting surface sits down in an amphitheater, as it was lowered 18 feet in the
late 80s, to create even more excitement. Whatever you do, take an extra club,
because the alternative is not how you want to finish your round.

This  is  one golf course  that rivals the best  in Pennsylvania, but is often
overlooked, as Oakmont, Merion and Aronimink get most of the attention. Laurel
Valley  is  class with a  capital "C". Over the  years, Arnold Palmer has made
"his"   course  into  a  phenomenal  layout  with  all  of  the  extras.  Lush
surroundings,  impeccable  beauty, spectacular  setting and  of course a great
golf  course. Mr. Palmer has created a masterpiece that challenges the best of
players  and yet  is very playable for the higher handicapper. Let's start out
with  history - PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, that's a 10. Second - layout, you
bet.  Difficulty -  The  only rough  tougher is  Oakmont's.  Next -  amenities
(Georgian-style clubhouse, staff, practice facility), second to none. What you
have  is a "Bo Derek"  a "10". It's not often you get to play a track that the
greats  of  the game  traversed, so if  given the opportunity,  go for it. Who
know's, you might get to see the king and get an autograph, I did.