Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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5 Ponds matures into must play

Written by Steve Gordon on .

It has been ages since I'd visited Warminster Five Ponds Golf Club. At the time it was the youngest course in Bucks County.

 

These days that distinction is held by Makefield Highlands Golf Club. Over the years Five Ponds has matured into a fine layout.

 

Five Ponds --- its name taken from the water hazards found on the course --- was an almost instant success in 1988. It provided a newer, varied, and challenging design from the older established courses in the immediate area while it presented a longer track for today's game of technology and big hitters.

 

My recent visit to Five Ponds revealed easier access in and out of the course with more available parking and a traffic light on busy Street Road. As for the golf course, it has matured and in the process some of its open look is gone. That isn't to say the holes are claustrophobic, it is saying that the holes are more defined and separated.

 

The golf course itself has seen no major changes to its design other than the maturing of saplings into trees and a few additions of some foliage that eliminated some of the open sight lines that existed around the course.

 

PGA Professional Gary Deetscreek runs a tight and efficient operation for this municipal operated facility with a pro shop upscale from your usual public daily fee golf course that doesn't feature upscale prices. While the golf course is always being spruced up, there are no plans for any major revisions. 

 

Deetscreek said there would be some bunker reconstruction soon. "The bunkers just have gotten too sloppy over time," commented Deetscreek, the 1981 GAP Philadelphia Amateur Champion.  

 

After you check into the pro shop a starter will efficiently line you up and keep things going off the first tee. There is an all grass practice area where you can get in a warm up session if you get there early or practice on after your round. To test your short stick there is a multilevel practice putting green.

 

Then it is on to the business of playing golf. I played on a Friday in a foursome including one female and one senior player with two walkers and two players in a cart on a course that was easily traversed in under four-and-a-half hours.

 

The first hole starts you out with a shortish 360 yard (white tees) par 4 that goes downhill from the tee and dog legs left then slightly uphill to a fairly flat benign green. Fescue-laden mounds are featured on both sides of the fairway with a fairway bunker on the outside of the dogleg that is reachable from the tee.

 

Most of the greens at Five Ponds are mild without wild contours and slopes and the observant average player can see the few subtle breaks on them. There are no tricks to the greens or the golf course in general. With the severe weather in the area the greens are being cut a bit longer than they normally would be to keep them from burning out. That said, there are some quick putts you need to watch for if you are on the wrong side of some holes.

 

The first real test comes on the fourth tee with a forced carry over a small creek. The 169-yard carry from the white tee (201 blue tees) sounds easy, but if you are there on a day when the prevailing wind is in your face and more than a breeze, it comes into play. The fun doesn't end there on this 381 yarder because one of the five ponds on the course guards the green. That means another forced carry and it is 100 yards of water to cross. In fairness to all players however, there is a fairway right that is accessible to lay-up to if you don't think you can reach the green.

 

Eight and nine provide a power packed test to finish the front nine that would not be out of place on any championship layout. Both are par 4 holes but the 8th plays 448 from the tips, 432 from the whites, and a stout 341 from the reds with OB the entire left side and another creek to cross about 130 from the green. The scorecard lists nine as 364 yards from the whites but it plays longer with a severe uphill second shot (and another creek to cross).

 

The back nine has just a tough collection of difficult tests with some let up built into the layout. Twelve is a short 487 yard par 5 from the white tees but if you can't keep it straight going down the fairway not much wider than a couple of hotel hallways you can rack up some strokes there. Fifteen is a par 5 with some length but if you play it smart it is more playable than 12 as it takes you to the hole with probably the most challenging tee shot of the day.

 

If you can negotiate the narrow driving area and carry a creek to an uphill fairway most of the battle is done. Miss the big greenside bunker on the front right of the green and stay out of the trees on the left and it's an easy hole. Easy on paper. Seventeen is a par-3 with a peninsula green and on the day I played it, into a stiff but not overpowering wind. I cracked a solid 5 iron that usually goes 170 plus, and from 154 yards it fell short of the green into the water.

 

As you putt out on 18 you can look back over the course and your golf experience of the day. The tees and fairways were uniformly in good condition along with the greens. If your game isn't what you would like it to be, you can schedule lessons with Deetscreek on site.