Paxon Hollow Country Club

Short in size, but long in pleasure

"Good things come in small packages" can apply to golf courses, too. Paxon Hollow Country Club is a fine example.

At a glance
Getting there: Paxon Hallow Country Club is at 850 Paxon Hallow Rd. in Media, Delaware County. Phone: 610-353-0220.

Greens fees: Nonresidents, weekends $35 to walk, $50 to ride; weekdays $32 to walk, $47 to ride. Seniors, weekday, $21 to walk. Twilight rate for 9 holes: $25 including cart.

Carts: Mandatory until 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Spikes: Nonmetal only.

Amenities: Moderately stocked pro shop, snack bar, Warmup range, banquet facilities. Outings welcome.

Rating: Short, but sweet.

Information accurate as of 8/23/2002

Though the name suggests a private club, Paxon Hollow is a municipal track owned and operated by Marple Township, which bought the 70-year-old course in 1967. Before that, it had several incarnations as a private club.

Terrific golf holes abound -- doglegs, sloping fairways, elevated tees and greens -- and it's considerably more picturesque and manicured than your run-of-the-mill muni track.

But Paxon Hollow is short -- too short for some golfers. Even from the back tees, it measures a mere 5,641 yards, far below the national average of 6,300 yards, with a slope of 116. From the whites (5,407) and the reds (4,935), it's inching toward ``executive'' course range.

To a lot of players, the skimpy length is no problem. But for low-handicappers or big to moderate hitters, a round at Paxon Hollow means admiring the look of a hole from the tee, then finding yourself again hitting driver and wedge.

Case in point: No. 10, a 277-yard, dogleg-right. What a gorgeous little golf hole. You stand there on a well-elevated tee, looking down on a slightly sloping fairway that bends to the right and a creek that cuts across the fairway just off the tee, then runs up the right side.

During a recent round, my playing partners all hit decent drives, leaving them with lob-wedges and chips into the green. Smelling an easy birdie, I managed to hit my worst tee shot of the day -- fat and ugly -- that by rights ought to have spelled trouble. But no, I still had nothing more than a wedge into the green. I felt foolish walking away with par.

Nevertheless, Paxon Hollow is a very pleasurable golf course. It is mature, dating to the 1920s, and it serves up more than a few fun, challenging holes, short or not.

Cases in point: Nos. 5 and 6. The fifth is a 326-yard, mild dogleg-left with trouble in the form of a ravine and tall grass along the left side. The prudent player stays far right of that, leaving a mid- to short-iron into a green protected by bunkers on the right and left front. On a windy day, which it was when I was there, it was no easy par.

The sixth, a 308-yard par 4, has an elevated tee from which the fairway drops and then gradually rises as it reaches the green. The wrinkle on this hole is not so much the woods up the left side as it is the stands of huge trees about 200 yards out that pinch the fairway down to about 20 yards.

More than a few players probably toy with the idea of hitting driver before finally playing it safe off the tee with a fairway wood or long iron.

On the back side, there's the 10th, of course, but I also liked the 12th, 13th, 17th and 18th.

The 12th, only 356 yards, requires a second shot over a ravine into a tricky, elevated green. The 13th, a 343-yard dogleg-left with trouble all up the left side, is the No. 1 handicap hole, thanks to tough tee-shot placement and a nail-biter second shot into a partially hidden green. The 17th, at 116 yards, is a wedge shot for almost everyone because it's straight down from the tee.

The best hole is the 18th, the longest par 5 at Paxon Hollow at 535 yards. From the tee, the fairway is framed by woods on the right and a creek running up the left side, before it cuts across the fairway about midway up the hole.

The second shot can be dicey because it's over the creek and uphill into a fairway that throws most everything right -- often behind a big sycamore tree that could give you fits on your third shot into the green.

If you like your golf courses long, Paxon Hollow is not for you. For all others, it's a gem worth trying.

Originally published May 25, 1997