Macoby Run Golf Course

A course that is being kept in the family

If you favor the informality and personal attention that are often found in family-run shops and restaurants and other small businesses, you'll like the charm and comfort at Macoby Run, a family-run golf course.

At a glance
Getting There: Macoby Run Golf Course is at 5275 McLean Station Road in Green Lane, Montgomery County. From the Northeast Extension (Interstate 476), take Exit 31 (Lansdale). Turn right (west) onto Route 63. Follow Route 63 to the first stop sign, at Route 29. Turn right (north) and follow Route 29 about a mile, to an elementary school and the sign for the course. Course is a mile and a half on Mclean Station road. Phone 215-541-0161.

Green Fees: Weekends, $28 to walk, $37 to ride. Weekdays, $15 to walk, $24 to ride. Seniors (62 and over) get $1 off Monday through Friday. For juniors (14 and younger), $8 to walk on weekdays.

Carts: Walking is permitted any time. Carts are $9 per person weekdays. On weekends, carts are $18 for one or two riders.

Spikes: Metal spikes are permitted.

Amenities: Driving range, restaurant, bar and grill, moderately stocked pro shop (no clubs), 200-seat outdoor banquet facility. Outings and leagues welcome.

Information accurate as of 8/22/2002

About 30 minutes up the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 63 in Green Lane, Montgomery County, the Hersh family six years ago turned their former dairy farm into a pleasant loop that rolls across pastureland, climbs hill and dale, and carves its way through enough wooded areas to add spice and variety to several holes.

That Macoby Run is a golf course today is testament to the determination of the Hershes.

There was the financial temptation to sell the scenic property to real estate developers. But the patriarch of the family, Lloyd Hersh, had dreamed of turning the land into a golf course for almost 40 years. Once he began to pursue his dream, he ran headlong into wetlands regulations. The Department of Environmental Resources and the Army Corp of Engineers held off final approval for several years.

After getting the go-ahead, the Hershes brought in landscape architect David Horn of Architerra P.C. in Allentown. By 1991, Macoby Run Golf Course, with its clubhouse looking much like the farm building it once was, was open for business.

``My father was born and raised here in the house, between the second and third holes,'' said Sheila Hersh-Schaffer, 31, who, with her sister Michele Peart, 30, now runs Macoby Run. ``He still lives there today.''

The youngest sister, Penelope, 27, works as a ranger on weekends. Michele's husband, Michael, is the superintendent. Mother Joanne Hersh does most of the baking for the restaurant, while minding a total of four children belong to Sheila and Michele. Lloyd Hersh has turned things over to the daughters, but he pitches in and chats up the golfers.

Macoby Run is affordable. On weekdays, you can tee it up for $11 if you're walking, $20 if you're riding. On weekends, it's $19 to walk, $28 to ride.

If you're hungry when you make the turn, you can pop into the aging clubhouse, as I did, and grab a 20-ounce soft drink, a hot dog, chips, and a bag of M&Ms for a total of $3.25.

A far cry from Philadelphia? You bet.

But you're probably wondering whether the course at Macoby Run is worth the trip.

The course, which measures 6,238 yards from the white tees and plays to a 118 slope, has its strengths and its weaknesses.

Its strengths - several challenging holes and spectacular vistas - come courtesy of the naturally rolling and hilly terrain. Its weaknesses - there are only two sets of tees, and there is a noticeable lack of bunkers and traps that could shore up its defenses against low-handicappers - are a direct result of the Hershes, instead of a deep-pockets corporation, owning it.

``Traps are very expensive, because sand is so expensive to haul in,'' Hersh-Schaffer said. ``We built some mounds on 16, 17 and 18, and we want to put in some traps, because those holes are a little boring.''

(This year, anyway, what money the Hershes can afford to sink into the course must go toward building a sewage treatment plant.)

But the Hershes and Macoby Run owe no apologies. Just when you think the course is getting ho-hum or too wide-open, it throws a decent golf hole at you.

Golf Digest gives Macoby Run two stars out of four, which is a fair assessment. With a few more years of maturity and a healthy smattering of fairway bunkers and greenside traps, the course would be more challenging and have a higher rating.

The opening three holes alone will have you breathing hard. The first, a 396-yard straightaway par 4, is all uphill. The second, a 327-yard par 4, is all downhill. Then comes the No. 1 handicap hole, a 466-yard par 5 that is almost flat for the tee shot. Then comes a second shot over Macoby Creek and a third shot that's like playing up the side of the Empire State Building.

Thankfully, No. 4 is a flip-wedge downhill par 3 that allows you to catch your breath.

As you make your way around the front side, it's almost impossible not to pause in several places and marvel at the wonder of nature. The view is hardly typical for a Philadelphia-area course.

The back nine at Macoby Run is, for the most part, as wide-open and flat as the front side is tight and hilly. There - especially on 13, 14, 16 and 18 - is where the course could benefit significantly from bunkers and traps.

Orginally published May 4, 1997