My round at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course was the first during my long weekend in Pennsylvania. I met up with my host, Tyler, bright and early on a Friday morning in order to make the first tee time at Militia Hill. I didn’t fully know what to expect. Prior to my visit I was able to find plenty online about the Wissahickon Course, but I found relatively little on Militia Hill… Little did I know, I was in for a treat.
The small clubhouse at Militia Hill provides for all of the basic needs during a round of golf. There is a locker room and food bar for golfers making the turn. However, since you are on the Flourtown property (home to both Militia Hill and the Wissahickon Course), you are close enough to visit the “main” clubhouse about five minutes away from Militia Hill’s 1st tee. The range is shared with the Wissahickon Course, and after hitting a handful of balls that Friday morning, we were ready to go.
Militia Hill was designed and built by Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry in 2002. The course is named for an adjacent hill, Militia Hill, which was the site of the last encampment for the soldiers of the Pennsylvania Militia before their march to Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. The course features picturesque cloverleaf bunkers and has clear nods to A.W. Tillinghast, who designed the neighboring Wissahickon Course. I thought that the design, while not quite as memorable as its older neighboring brother, was challenging and very fun.I have to make mention of the course condition at Militia Hill. I can only count a handful of courses that I have ever played with better conditions. The fairways were nearly flawless and the greens were smooth and very fast. Major kudos to the Militia Hill grounds crew… they have done an excellent job.
Golfers are eased into the round with a gentle dogleg right on the 1st hole. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it, but I saw similarities with Tillinghast’s Bethpage Black from the first hole onward. Comment below to let me know if you agree.
The 2nd works back uphill towards the clubhouse. No need for driver off this tee – lay up to a comfortable yardage and add a club for elevation on the approach.
You could call the 3rd hole the signature hole at Militia Hill. It is a dogleg left working around a lake. The sloping green adds challenge to the reachable par 5. Very fun risk/reward hole.
The 4th is another very fun risk/reward hole on the front side. Longer hitters can carry the creek and almost reach the front of the green… which I did before promptly making a bogey.
Hole #5 – 169 yards
Can’t you see Tillinghast in the bunkering? This uphill par 3 isn’t the most challenging on the course, but it is framed beautifully by the surrounding trees.
The 6th is a beautiful dogleg right working back up the hill. Players can cut as much off as they dare from the tee, shortening the hole and bringing a “go for it” scenario into play. A sloping green with tough bunkers makes the aggressive play no guarantee of birdie.
Hole #8 – 376 yards
The 8th is a beautiful short par 4. If I play this hole again I will lay up short of the left bunker, leaving a wedge or short iron into the green. No reason to add challenge with an awkward yardage pitch.
Although this par 3 is fairly long, the wide open front of the green allows for a running play onto the putting surface – a very sensibly designed green complex.
The very enjoyable final 9 starts with an uphill par 4 that reminds me of a “chicane” in car racing. An artificial turn is introduced into the hole by the right bunker, creating a dogleg right on an otherwise straight hole. It sets up well to the eye!
This is another hole on the course with a clear nod to Tillinghast’s bunkering. The green has two tiers, one in the front and one in the rear.
Very long hitters can get pretty darn close to this green. Similar to the last hole, there are two tiers just drastic enough to intimidate you on the approach shot.
The view from this raised tee is beautiful. The hole plays very long due to the change in elevation working up to the green.
There are clear similarities between this hole and the 18th. However, this hole is a risk/reward par 5 instead of a shorter par 4. A creek crosses the hole right in the prime layup area, adding another layer of strategy to the hole.
This blind approach shot is intimidating, particularly with the pin during our round, which seemed to be in the right bunker. The green is much larger than it appears, placing a premium on distance control in order to land on the correct portion of the green.
The 16th was yet another beautiful hole on Militia Hill. A 240 yard tee shot at the right greenside bunker runs down to leave a comfortable wedge into this green. Just look at the condition of that fairway in the bottom photo…
Hole #17 – 535 yards
Do you see the choke point created by the bunkers in the layup landing area? That nagging tree in the right rough also caused our group more trouble than you would think. Just as #14 seemed like a par 5 version of #18, #17 seemed like a par 5 version of #1.
Hole #18 – 411 yards The 18th is one of the most beautiful holes on the course and it leaves a great taste in your mouth post-round. A layup just short of the creek leaves a short iron into the sloping green. In the bottom photo, look at the two umbrellas on the left. That is a comfortable sitting patio for members and guests to have a drink and watch golfers play the 18th… great spot!
While Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course will always get the lion’s share of the attention, Militia Hill is no slouch! Many, many golfers around the world would love to have Militia Hill as their primary course, let alone a second of three options at a club. I would love to go back to Militia Hill to play the back 9 again during some beautiful evening light… that will be for the next trip!
It does remind me of Bethpage. It looks slightly less punishing, but with more interesting greens. Great review.
Thanks, Jimmy! Glad to know I’m not totally off the mark with that Bethpage comment. It was a really fun course – one I’d happily play every day!
First thing I noticed was how similiar the bunkering was to Bethpage… I don’t know from experience but from what I have seen the use of bunkers to create movement and pinches in holes is also prominent at Bethpage
Quite a few points on the course reminded me of Bethpage. There is a lot of Tillinghast love at PCC, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that was in the designers’ minds when doing Militia Hill!