Seven Golf Courses to Add to your Bucket List
For golfers, Happy Valley is a slice of heaven. And fitting in a game between reunions or on a football weekend has never been easier. Bring your sticks next time you are in town, and set aside some time to play. I've been playing here in Happy Valley for 12 years and I'm going to hit straight with you about the best places to tee it up.
Nestled at the foot of Tussey Mountain is another course that has changed names and improved the experience for their golfers. Mountain View Golf Course, formerly the State College Elks, is a very playable course but certainly isn't a pushover by any means. With its share of blind shots, dog legs and hazards, a good round will require you to stay on the fairway. They offer a very good clubhouse for enjoying a meal and a beverage before or after your round. (mtviewcountryclub.com; 100 Elks Club Rd., Boalsburg; 814-466-7231)
There are plenty of places to stay in Happy Valley, but Toftrees offers the only direct stay-and-play option for golfers who want to roll out of bed and onto the practice green or the first tee. Toftrees was recently awarded the 7th spot in the Top Courses to Play in Pennsylvania. It tricks you by being so appealing on the eyes, and is known to consume its share of golf balls and frustrate those playing its lush grounds. Make sure you leave time to enjoy the The Field Burger and Tap on site after your round. They have some fantastic food, a great bar and an even better atmosphere with a game usually playing one of the televisions. (toftrees.com; One Country Club Lane, State College; 800-252-3551)
Most golfers know about the Penn State Blue and White Courses. Nestled in the heart of Happy Valley, each course offers its own set of challenges but share one thing: their beauty. The very well-manicured fairways and greens make these courses true heart-breakers: equal parts beautiful and cruel.
The two courses at Penn State offer golfers unique challenges with the Blue Course being the more difficult of the two. The Penn State golf team plays on the Blue Course, but thanks to a weekday special of $33 after 11 a.m., so can you. Watch out for "The Lion's Den." The stretch of holes from 14 to 18 is one of the toughest set of closing holes and has sent more than its share of golfers to the clubhouse wondering where their round went wrong.
Not to be left out, the White Course may not have the water hazards that the Blue Course does, but it presents a tighter layout and plays a bit shorter. That’s where it gets you. Staying on the short grass is critical and it's not a course that will be muscled over. The greens will prove to be the great equalizer. The weekday special for this track is $28 and a better value will be hard to find.
Be sure to say hello to General Manager Joe Hughes and don’t be surprised if you see some familiar faces on the course. PSU wrestling coach Cael Sanderson has been known to sign an autograph or two, but keep in mind that local celebrities also just want to put the world away for a bit and just golf. (pennstategolfcourses.com; 523 West College Avenue, State College; Proshop: (814) 865-4653)
If you are looking for a challenge on the links, look no further than the Skytop Mountain Golf Course. The course formerly known as Freestone has undergone a rather serious makeover since new ownership took over in 2012. The new look and ever-changing course is still on the side of the mountain and still has tree-lined fairways, but to dismiss it so easily would be missing out on a truly unique golfing experience. It is a course that will test your game and leave you wanting a return trip. (skytopgolf.com; 350 Freestone Drive, Port Matilda, PA 16870; 814-692-4249)
A little further out of town, in neighboring Huntingdon, is a course that demands to be played and those making the trip to Standing Stone will not be disappointed. While the course may not wow you from the tee box with fairways like you'll find at Penn State or Toftrees, the course makes up for it with being a playable yet challenging track. You are likely to see a gaggle of geese on the course and possibly a snapping turtle or two. Standing Stone is an experience that golfers will remember and want to relive. (standingstonegolf.com; 10506 Standing Stone Rd, Huntingdon; 814-643-4800)
Another out-of-the-way course is Belles Springs located in Mill Hall. It’s a course that is certainly worth the drive with its open fairways and forgiving layout. It’s a beautiful course and doesn’t punish the wayward tee shot like some of the other courses do. If you are looking for a course to introduce a new golfer to the game, or just to have a laid-back round, your tee time is just a call away. (bellessprings.com; 417 Fairground Rd, Mill Hall; 570-726-4222)
If weather is a factor or perhaps you want to stay on top of your game over the winter months, look no further thanFairways and Greens. The only local indoor golf simulator, it’s open all year. Ed Hill runs a great outfit that features two simulators with a multitude of courses to play. In addition, they sell new and used equipment as well as offer club repair and consignment for golf equipment. If you need it, check with Ed first. Fairways and Greens is a true gem that is worth finding, and your game will thank you for the work you do over the winter. (1341 S Atherton St Ste 1, State College; 814-234-6266)
There you have it! Make your next weekend in Happy Valley just a little happier with a round of golf. Be sure to hit 'em straight!