COURSE REVIEWS
18th at Jeffersonvile GC 
Jeffersonville Golf Club

By Joe Logan
Reviewed on September 5, 2014
click here to view club details

By now the rags-to-respectability success story that is Jeffersonville Golf Club should be well known to many golfers in the region.

 

Opened in 1931, during the Great Depression, Jeffersonville operated for four decades as a family-owned daily-fee course in West Norriton Township, Montgomery County. Acquired by the township in the early 1970s, the course spent the next 30 years as a scruffy, undistinguished, utterly forgettable muni, where guys in tank tops could plunk down $25 or so and hack it around with a set of mismatched clubs.

 

Surprisingly, there had been talk for years around Jeffersonville that the course actually had been designed by Donald J. Ross, a Scotsman who is perhaps the most revered of all golf course architects.

 

Best known for such masterpieces as Seminole in Florida and Pinehurst No. 2, the U.S. Open venue in North Carolina, Ross is credited with between 350-400 courses over his long, prolific career, including several local gems such as Aronimink GC, Torresdale-Frankford CC, Chester Valley CC, Gulph Mills CC and Riverton CC.  No one ever truly looked into whether Ross truly designed Jeffersonville until 2000.

 

It was then that township old-timer named Bob Deemer wrote a letter to Rick Troncelliti, then West Norriton Township president.  Deemer had seen all the publicity over Ross when Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the 1999 Open, won by the late Payne Stewart, and we wondered why the township didn’t promote Jeffersonville as also being designed by Ross.

 

In his letter, Deemer said he knew fact that Jeffersonville was a Ross course because he had lived in a house adjacent to the course and he could remember a sign on the property: "Jeffersonville Golf Club, A Pay As You Play Facility, Designed by Donald Ross."

 

Intrigued, Troncelliti set about determining once and for all whether Jeffersonville was indeed a Ross.  When proof was in hand, Troncelliti persuaded his fellow commissioners to spend $2 million renovating and upgrading the course so they could promote it as one of the few Ross courses in the area – and just about the only one open to the public.

 

Almost 10 years later, judging by a recent round at Jeffersonville, the project remains a success and a good idea.  The day I was there, the course was busy and it was in the best condition I’ve ever seen it.   Fairways and greens were actually green, which is a stark and pleasant departure from it the days when it looked like the golf course equivalent of a stray dog.

 

That all said, in its heart of hearts, Jeffersonville GC remains an everyman muni. It might be long on pedigree but it’s short on pretense.  Reclaimed and redone Ross or not, it does not aspire to be Aronimink or Pinehurst #2. The rates still top out at $51 for a weekend round, with cart, by a non-resident of the township; some weekday rates are less than half that.

 

Not much has changed at Jeffersonville since the last time I played it, maybe a couple of years ago.  The pro shop is basic, simply stocked, and the snack bar is a no-frills affair that serves a cold beer and a hotdog.

 

A well-traveled first-timer at Jeffersonville might be unimpressed midway through the round.  With its short, relatively simple layout --- Jeffersonville, par 70, measures only 6,443 yards from the tips -- it’s not going to blow anybody away, especially if they are accustomed to top-dollar daily fee courses or acquainted with some of Ross’ other work.

 

On the other hand, if they had seen it before the renovation, they’d likely agree the course has come quite a way.

 

The renovation was done by Ron Prichard, a local architect who specializes in restoring classic courses, especially Ross courses.  Aided by old photos of the course, plus a few flourishes of his own, Prichard breathed health and vitality into Jeffersonville.

 

Beginning at No. 1, he added a bit more bite to the dogleg opener, rebuilding the bunkers in the elbow of the dogleg, raising the walls in the process.  From there on, Prichard made noticeable, significant changes to almost every hole, such as reshaping, deepening or repositioning bunkers.  He rerouted two holes and built new greens on several holes.

 

For my money, even after the renovation, the front nine at Jeffersonville is weaker of the two nines.  The real action comes after you make the turn.   Many people, me included, think the best hole on the course is probably the 13th, a 430-yard slight dogleg left, that plays down to a creek, then a mid-iron shot up to an elevated, swayback green flanked by bunkers and swathed in towering trees.  Very nice golf hole.

 

Easily, the best stretch of holes is the final four, beginning par 3 15th, a 215-yard uphill beast that ranks among the stouter par 3s in the area. Next up is a 390-yard slight dogleg right with a green you won’t soon forget.

 

The 452-yard 17th is a dogleg right with a cut-the-corner tee shot, followed by a finishing hole that is a 545-yard double-dogleg par 5, complicated by a lake and a green that takes no prisoners.

 

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, one of the best things about the round that day at Jeffersonville is that we played behind a threesome of youngsters – boys maybe 11 or 12, all decked out in golf attire, lugging their bags, enjoying the day.  Never once did they hold us up.

 

I kept watching from afar and not once did they do anything other than conduct themselves properly.  Somebody is to be commended for teaching those boys the game and its etiquette, and Jeffersonville is to be credited for being a place where they can learn to love the game.


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steve spross[9/5/2014 4:47:48 PM]
Joe As the former course pro there from 2002-2007, just after the renovations were completed, I donít think there is a better value or venue for the "average" or better public course player. Starting with the renovations made by Ron Prichard to the continual tweaking by course superintendent Rich Shilling, it is always in great shape despite a high volume of play. I think Jeff has a great variety of holes... long & short, doglegs etc. to keep your interest up for all 18 holes. I put #8 or #15 from the back tees up against any area par 3ís for difficulty in making par, and think the #18 hole double dogleg is a wonderful finishing hole, with the toughest green on the course to end your round. Iíve played a lot of Ross courses here and in the Carolinas, Iím glad the township not only had the foresight to restore Jeff, but also maintain itís conditioning long after the renovations were complete. Now about that clubhouse.....
Philly Golf Guy[11/28/2011 7:00:45 PM]
I enjoyed your review of Jeffersonville and was interested to learn how it was rediscovered that Donald Ross designed the course. Old "J-Ville" is the best municipal golf has to offer. Great design, great conditions, great pace of play and a mean hot dog. Iíve played many (and one day will get to them all) Philadelphia area courses and Jeffersonville is in my regular rotation. http://bestphillygolf.blogspot.com/
Muni Golfer[5/3/2011 7:17:54 AM]
Jeffersonville is one of my favorite courses, plus, I think it has to be one of the best golfing values in the Delaware Valley.
Brian[5/15/2010 9:22:41 AM]
I couldnít agree more Joe. I first played Jville as a teenager, traveling with my friends from Radnor Twp when we first got our drivers licenses. It was a different course then but just what we needed at $15 to walk. Now as a West Norriton resident and home owner, how things have come full circle, I thoroughly enjoy my late afternoon rounds walking the course of my youth. They did a great job with the restoration and continue to keep the course in good condition. In fact, I think Iíll head out later today!


 
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