When will LedgeRock Golf Club reopen its 17th hole?

By: March 31, 2020

I already told you last year that during 2019, Rees Jones and his team will concentrate on two holes at LedgeRock Golf Club — the downhill, par-3 10th (see photo below), and the uphill, par-4 17th — with plans to adjust other holes going forward.

Now I can tell you that LedgeRock Golf Club‘s par-4 17th hole will reopen by the middle of May.

LedgeRock Golf Club 10th hole par-3

The project has been undertaken by superintendent Alan FitzGerald using in house crews, under the direction of architect Rees Jones, who authored the original design at LedgeRock Golf Club back in 2006.

The work has been funded not via member assessment but via voluntary membership donations — one reason the work was authorized and ground broken with such speed.

Fitzgerald’s in-house construction capability affords him extraordinary flexibility — to undertake renovation in February, for example, and have golfers playing the new hole by May.

GM Gerry Heller explains:

We had thought about trying to do 17 when we renovated no. 10, last spring, but for several reasons it didn’t make sense. One reason we pulled the trigger this winter was Alan himself.

The work his team did at the par-3 10th hole was so well received (and under budget, I might add). Once we had gone over the project at 17 in real detail — to confirm all the numbers were solid — the members didn’t see any reason to wait.

LedgeRock Golf Club Rees Jones plan 17th hole

Par-4 t7th hole – LedgeRock Golf Club – details

The par-4 17th at LedgeRock Golf Club has always been demanding. Its sharply uphill approach — over a cross bunker to a green nestled into a steep hillside — is one reason it’s the no. 1 handicap hole, the club’s most difficult hole.

Phase 1 of the renovation project, now underway, replaces the cross bunker with a single small bunker on the right, creating a generous lay-up area short and left of the putting surface. Jones also reimagined the green complex at 17.

Where it had been flanked left by a greenside bunker, with bluegrass rough behind and right of the green, Jones artfully designed greenside chipping areas right and left, allowing players a variety of recovery shots.

Beyond the green, a wide fairway-cut swale has been created to catch approach shots that, in the past, would skitter over the green into thick rough.

FitzGerald says

On a hole this long and this uphill, players naturally take a bit of extra club — to be sure they ‘get there’. But that downhill chip from the rough over the green at 17 was very difficult.

Now they can putt from back there. They can putt from everywhere around the green, including short left. Better players chip, but that’s a tough shot off a tight bentgrass surface.

The green surface has not been touched. But everything around it has been radically expanded, regraded and softened to give players the chance to recover, if they happen to miss the target.

Phase 2 – 17th hole – LedgeRock Golf Club

Phase II will be undertaken in October, on a more traditional renovation schedule. The design calls for significant widening and regrading the landing area on 17, which is flanked left by one of LedgeRock’s many babbling brooks.

By widening the landing area, more golfers will be inclined to hit the driver — which should shorten the length of the uphill approach shot.

The sort of renovation/reinvestment taking place at LedgeRock Golf Club is not on the radar at most private clubs in 2020.

Berks County alone has seen a dozen golf properties shuttered over the last decade.

Reading Country Club, just north of LedgeRock Golf Club is operational but not as a private club.

In the Harrisburg area, Blue Ridge CC, Wren Dale GC, and Felicita GC have all been shuttered since 2012.

Heller says

We do feel as if we have reimagined the traditional private club model here at LedgeRock.

Our national and regional membership programs are part of that evolution. Your golf course has to be truly top drawer to make that work, of course.

But again, I have to credit our members for the attitude and atmosphere that prevails here. They’ve allowed us to streamline operations and decision-making.

I’ve been in this business for 35 years. I’ve never seen a project approved in this way — with voluntary donations vs. a club-wide assessment — or this quickly.