Glenmaura National Golf Club
|Glenmaura National Golf Club|
1000 Glenmaura National Blvd.
Moosic, PA 18507
Architect: Dr. Michael Hurdzan
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For the biggest part of 60 years, no outstanding private golf or country club was founded in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Then, remarkably, two came on stream at once. The official opening day for Huntsville was July 1, 1994. Three days later, on the Fourth of July, Glenmaura Golf Club celebrated the formal debut of its splendid course. The featured foursome consisted of Larry Mize, who had signed on as the club’s touring professional, Ted Tryba, and two of the LPGA Tour’s longest hitters, Michelle McGann and Jill Briles-Hinton.
Like Huntsville, Glenmaura moved promptly to join the Golf Association of Philadelphia. The club is located in Moosic, Pa. and draws its members in equal numbers from Scranton and from Wilkes-Barre. Within eight months of its opening, Glenmaura, which is wholly owned by the members, reached its membership limit of 335.
The club’s board is a permanent one. Its chairman is Charles E. Parente, who was the driving force in the formation of Glenmaura and has guided it through its early stages. James B. McDonough is the treasurer and Allan M. Kluger the secretary. In addition to these three officers, the directors are Joseph Amato, Frank H. Bevevino, Alan B. Graf, Frank M. Henry, William B. Mainwaring, John D. McCarthy, Sr., Margaret O’Connor, Warren Reed, Vincent G. Sortino, J. Harvey Sproul, Jr. and Robert L. Tambur.
The 18th at Glenmaura has two greens. The one on the right (foreground of photo) is effectively islanded by a stream. The one on the left (lower left of photo, with players) has a stream running only across the front.
Chosen to design the golf course was Michael J. Hurdzan, Ph. D. (in environmental plant physiology). In the 1970s, he formed a golf course design partnership with Jack Kidwell, of Columbus, Ohio, but it was when he struck out on his own, in the latter half of the 1980s, that he established his reputation. Two Toronto area courses. Devil’s Pulpit (1990) and Devil’s Paint Brush (1992), brought him considerable acclaim, and Devil’s Pulpit, where he worked for the first time with a substantial budget, was cited in 1991 by Golf Digest as "Best New Course of Canada." And doubtless many of the Glenmaura directors were familiar with his remodeling efforts at Honesdale Golf Club (1990) as well as the additional nine holes he laid out for the Country Club of Scranton.
It is probable that Dr. Hurdzan had never worked with such a piece of land as greeted him at Glenmaura. By and large, it was a rocky, wooded mountainside. The first nine is actually routed over the side of the mountain; the second nine plays through a valley at the foot of the slope. The construction of the eighteen was a massive undertaking that called for months of blasting and of trucking in dirt — 75,000 cubic yards of it.
Stone is everywhere at Glenmaura National, in the form of outcroppings and old low walls and brook boundaries and waterfall backdrops. There are three natural waterfalls on the course. They are beguiling not simply to look at but also to listen to.
The overall elevation change is astounding: 360 feet from the highest to the lowest point on the golf course. Equally astounding is the fact that we are nevertheless not playing goathill golf here. For the most part, the fairways are either relatively level or they tumble pleasantly downhill. We are simply not aware of the heights we have scaled except when we relax momentarily to take in the magnificent vistas that extend for miles and fairly take one’s breath away
Par is 71. There are five sets of tees—black (6,958 yards), blue (6,339), white (5,814), gold (5,188), and red (4,575). From 6,340 yards this course is immensely playable. Only two of the par 4s—the 3rd (407 yards) and the 16th (412)—are more than 400 yards, and both offer elevated tees, thus shortening the distance. What’s more, on 10 holes the front of the green is open to welcome the full shot that lands short, then bounces and skips and rolls its way back to the hole. Not all of the game at Glenmaura need be played in the air.
Since there are no parallel holes, we play in solitude, rarely encountering other golfers, just wildlife. There are 93 sand bunkers, most of them rather artistically shaped, and there are occasional grass bunkers as well. But since the tee shot landing areas are not constricted (miss them, however, and you pay dearly, your ball disappearing down a rocky slope or into an evil-looking thicket) and since the greens are generous, sand is not likely to be our principal nemesis. Water, however, could be. It imperils the shot on ten holes, almost never in the form of a pond, almost always in the form of wetlands or streams, some to be carried, others to be steered clear of.
Glenmaura offers the player a true rara avis: a quartet of superlative par 5s. And the first of them is the opening hole, which measures a husky 557 yards, which calls for the drive to clear a stream and avoid a trio of big bunkers on the right, which requires a string-straight second to a narrowing fairway framed by sand right and left, and which leaves a medium iron into a small, heavily bunkered green. If that sounds suspiciously like the course’s #1 stroke hole, be assured that it is. And having to confront it when our swing is at best creaky can be unsettling.
The 6th is a temptress. It is only 491 yards, but a ravine not quite a hundred yards short of the green must be traversed with our wood if we are to have any chance of a 4. This second shot calls for a thoughtfully considered decision.
With wetlands skirting the hole its entire length on the right, the 514-yard 10th forces us to head left off the tee— and that’s where the sand is. Indeed, the hole is pocked with 11 sand bunkers, the last four corseting a green which looks smaller than it actually is. Like all of Hurdzan’s greens here, it is a thing of beauty, with borrows both subtle and bold.
There are more wetlands on the last of the three-shotters, the noble 14th, 543 yards. The landing area for the drive inclines to be narrow, the landing area for the second offers a bit more room, and the iron is fired over wetlands to another severely bunkered green, this one tucked left and set boldly on the bias.
Just 14 months after the full 18 opened, the club hosted the Pennsylvania Middle Amateur Championship. The course was set up at its full length, 6,958 yards. Only 23 of the 82 contestants broke 80. There were plenty of 11s, 12s, and 13s run up that day and even a 14 by a player who would have qualified for match play if only he could have come up with a 10 on that hole.