The Golf Course at Glen Mills
6,638 yards, Par 71 (72.3 course rating, 138 slope)
PhillyGolfGuide.com Ranking: 1st Overall (1st in Delaware County)
Architect: Bobby Weed
Par 3’s: 5/5
Par 4’s: 4/5
Par 5’s: 4.5/5
Summary: The Golf Course at Glen Mills is an upscale daily-fee course that is as unique and enjoyable to play as any course in the area. It is without a doubt the best public course in the Philadelphia region and rivals many of the areas finest private layouts. If you have never played it, you should do so immediately.
The beauty of Glen Mills strikes you right away when you pull through the gate of this secluded Delaware County gem. You can tell when you turn up the driveway that Glen Mills is unlike any other public course in the area. Offering sweeping views of the rugged terrain you would swear you were at a private course.
Situated on 230 acres of rolling hills, wooded areas, steep elevation changes and meandering creeks, Glen Mills is an aesthetically pleasing course. The wonderfully manicured conditions are an absolute treat for the area’s public golfers. The tees and fairways are lush and carpet-like and the greens are quick and smooth.
As visually stunning as Glen Mills is, their best feature might just be what you don’t see: houses and cars. You likely won’t see a single one of them during your 18 holes and I love that, especially in this day and age where almost every modern course is accompanied by an over-cramped housing development and requires you to cut through someone’s backyard to reach your next tee box. Glen Mills is almost completely isolated, tucked inside a cocoon of mature woodlands.
The clubhouse is small but attractive and it houses the bare essentials. You won’t find a banquet room here - it’s all golf at Glen Mills. Be sure to save some time after your round to enjoy a drink on the back patio with its spectacular view overlooking the 9th green below.
The course’s greatest quality is its variety. You’ll face easy holes, difficult holes, tight holes, and wide open holes. Holes where you can bomb it off the tee and others where you’ll likely be punished for using the big stick. Somehow, it’s almost as if no two holes play in the same direction. The Par 4’s are a great mix of short and long, with the shortest measuring 325 yards from the tips, and the longest stretching to 464 yards. Some of our favorites are the uphill 2nd where you can bite off as much as you can chew from the tee over a beautiful set of diagonal bunkers, the 9th with its downhill approach to a punch bowl green, and the long and scenic 13th and 18th holes.
The par 3’s measure from 156 to 222 and this collection of five one-shotters is as good as it gets, each playing in a distinctly different direction. The 5th is a beauty that plays slightly downhill over a steep faced bunker to a green that is protected on the left side by woods, bunkers and a meandering creek.
The 7th is the most controversial of the par 3’s, but I love its quirkiness. The longest of the par 3’s, seven plays uphill to a massive green that is some 56 yards deep and features four distinct sections, making proper club selection essential. It’s wedged into a steep hillside with cavernous bunkers carved into the front right of the green complex.
The 10th is a classic drop shot hole that plays over native grasses, rocks, bunkers and a winding creek to a massive putting surface. Take at least one club less here.
The 14th is probably my favorite hole on the course. It plays to an uphill green that sits diagonally to the tee. Large, beautiful bunkers front the hole, punishing any shots that come up well short of the green. Anything left is in dead man’s land into a steep drop-off of creek and native grasses. Despite only playing 161 from the back tee, par is a great score here.
Last but not least is the 16th that plays over the only pond on the course. The tee shot is all carry across the water to a green that is beautifully framed by large rocks.
The par 5’s are almost as good as the par 3’s, with each having its own distinct personality and each playing in a different direction. 6 and 17 require accurate tee balls, with 4 and 15 allowing you to rip it off the tee. All four are potentially reachable for bigger hitters but each can punish your scorecard if you find the wrong spots.
Even though all green fees include a cart, Glen Mills does allow you to walk and the layout was clearly designed with the walking golfer in mind. The routing was handled masterfully on a piece of land that bottle necks toward the back of the property. Course architect Bobby Weed did the best he could to get the player to the back corner of the property where holes 12-16 sit, but it leaves about a 200 yard walk around the 17th tee. Most other tees sit adjacent to the previous green.
I can find very little wrong with The Golf Course at Glen Mills although I have heard some people complain about the 11th and 17th holes. This is where the property pinches into a paltry 125 yards, with 30 yards of that down the middle occupied by trees, a creek and native grasses. Critics say its forced and too narrow for two holes, with the 11th getting the brunt of the criticism for being far too tight and penal. I couldn’t disagree more.
Sure the 11th is tight with its hazard running the length of the left side and a steep hillside on the right, but the overall length of the hole, at only 376 yards from the back tee, makes it more than fair. From the tips a 215 yard shot is all you need off the tee (about 195 yards from the next set of tees). That will give you a landing area that’s nearly 30 yards wide and an approach shot of 145 in. The bordering creek quickly tightens the fairway from there for those that get greedy, narrowing to 15 yards at 245 out (225 from the next set of tees). Big hitters can try to carry the ball 260 from the tips where it opens back up again (235 from the next set of tees), but that’s clearly not the play.
Located about 30 minutes southwest of King of Prussia, The Golf Course at Glen Mills is a little out of the way for a lot of folks in the Greater Philadelphia area, but it is well worth the trip at least once each season, even at $95 on the weekends. You’ll find tremendous value during the week ($79) and after 3pm ($65) and also enjoy a smaller crowd at those times, although with 10-minute intervals, even weekend mornings aren’t too bad. Glen Mills is a collection of signature holes with each presenting a new challenge and offering something memorable.
The Golf Course at Glen Mills is extremely deserving of its PhillyGolfGuide.com #1 ranking for daily-fee courses in the Philadelphia area.
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