Get Away or Get Together at Happy Valley’s Top Golf Courses
By Emily Riden
If the sunshine and warmer weather have found you yearning to dust off your golf clubs, day dreaming about hitting the links and improving your handicap, or contemplating learning to golf for the first time, and if you happen to live in or plan to visit Happy Valley this summer, you’re in luck!
The region is home to an exceptional array of courses, ideal for a round of golf with friends, a quick nine holes amidst a weekend visit, golf lessons, and even your next group reunion this summer or during the upcoming football season. No matter what your handicap or golf interest may be, here are a few places you will want to tee off from this summer!
For the out-of-towners looking to stay and play in one convenient location or locals looking for a top-of-the-line golf experience, Toftrees Resort and Conference Center is the place to be. The 18-hole course, designed by renowned golf course architect, Edmund Ault, was rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest’s magazine’s “Places to Play,” and has been repeatedly named one of Pennsylvania’s Best Resort/Public Golf Courses. While simultaneously ensuring your ball doesn’t end up in the water on the ninth hole, you’ll want to be sure to enjoy the landscape and spectacular panoramas as you weave your way through the tree-lined fairways.
Before you take on the championship course, you can shake off the rust of winter and warm up your game on Toftree’s driving range with targeted greens or practice your chipping on the golf club’s manicured putting green. For the first-timer or those looking to improve their handicap, Toftrees also offers private golf lessons with head golf professional, Cody Ceccato, and director of golf, Charles Sheppard.
No matter what your level of play or experience, Toftrees has golf and hotel packages designed to accommodate your schedule – whether you’re focused solely on golf or looking to squeeze in round or two between meetings or family plans. With a pool, sand volleyball court, fitness center, and The Field Burger and Tap restaurant all on site, Toftrees also makes the ideal golf reunion venue, offering something for everyone! An added incentive to organize your next golf reunion there? If you’re the group organizer booking a group of 20 or more, your golf and hotel stay are complimentary! (toftrees.com; 1 Country Club Lane, State College; 800-252-3551)
Just a short drive from Toftrees in the heart of State College are the popular Penn State Blue and White Courses, each offering their own unique set of challenges. The Blue Course, considered the more difficult of the two, features a 36-par, 3,696-yard front nine that will challenge your course management skills and patience with 27, strategically-placed, green-side bunkers and three new ponds added in 2006. The 36-par back nine not only includes 16 additional green-side bunkers, it adds to the challenge by including 11 well-placed fairway bunkers and water hazards on the 14th and 18th hole.
While the White Course may spare you the water hazards, with 3,245-yard front nine, a 3,099-yard back nine, and smaller, crowned greens, it plays shorter and tests a player’s short game. With special weekday pricing and ideal options for groups, outings, and reunions, the Penn State Golf Courses make it easy to come enjoy the beautifully well-manicured fairways and grounds that make up both courses. (pennstategolfcourses.com; 1523 West College Avenue, State College; 814-865-4653)
Nearby, nestled at the foot of Tussey Mountain, is the Mountain View Country Club, a public country club that offers the services and quality of a private golf club. Formerly known as the Elks Country Club, the 6,427-yard, 18-hole course offers picture perfect views of both Mount Nittany and Tussey Mountain and picturesque links, with the headwaters of Spring Creek winding through both the front and back nine and coming into play on five different holes. With The View restaurant onsite, Mountain View Country Club offers a seasonal menu that frequently boasts items such as the Summer Berry Salad, Seared Ahi Tuna Bites, and the always-popular View Burger. With a number of catering packages also available, the Mountain View Country Club specializes in organizing custom outing packages and providing superior tournament service for your next group golf event. (mtviewcountryclub.com; 310 Elks Club Road, Boalsburg; 814-466-7231)
For more striking scenery and a fun, challenging round, visit Skytop Mountain Golf Club in Port Matilda. The club came under new ownership in 2012 and has since undergone extensive transformations – while retaining both some of the most playable tees and some of the most challenging. The 6,900-yard, 18-hole course features a front nine routed along the lower valley floor, with five holes bordering the Bald Eagle Creek, and a back nine that slowly gains elevation up the mountainside, providing magnificent views of the valley and the Allegheny Front. With five sets of tees, the course of bentgrass fairways, greens, and tees is suitable for all skill levels, and the additional golf facilities, including a putting green, a spacious grass practice range, and a dedicated short game area, make it an ideal place to improve your golf game in quiet, elegant retreat atmosphere. The top-of-the-line facility also offers junior golf camps, private lessons, ‘Get Golf Ready’ classes for beginners, golf leagues, and more. (skytopgolf.com; 635 Skytop Mountain Road, Port Matilda; 814-692-4249)
Now get out your golf clubs, gather your golf buddies, and enjoy all of the golf that Happy Valley has to offer!