Twining Valley Golf Club

At Twining Valley, beginners are in luck

Once you've decided to take up the game, spent some time at the driving range, maybe done the pitch-and-putt or par-3 course scene, then what?

At a glance
Getting there: Twining Valley Golf Club is at 1400 Twining Road, Dresher, just off Susquehanna Rd. From the Pennsylvania Turnpike, take Exit 27, then follow Rt. 611 south to the first light. Turn right at Maryland Ave., and follow it to the first left, onto Computer Drive. Follow Computer Drive to the first light at Welsh Rd. (Rt. 63). Turn left on Welsh and right at Twining Rd. The course is 1.4 miles ahead on the right. Phone (215) 659-9917.

Greens Fees: Weekends, $40 to ride, $26 to walk; twilight (after 4 pm.) $24 to ride, $15 to walk; Weekdays $36 to ride; $22 to walk. Twilight, $23 to ride, $14 to walk. Senior discount before noon every day $23.95 to ride. A five-round pass, good for weekdays, and weekends and holidays after 2 p.m. is $60.

Carts: Mandatory before noon on weekends and holidays.

Spikes: Metal spikes permitted.

Amenities: Moderately stocked pro shop, snack bar, club repair and custom clubmaking, putting green, no driving range, fitness club, outings welcome.

Ratings: Nice course for beginners, high- and mid-handicappers, seniors and juniors.

Information accurate as of 8/26/2002

Where do you hone your game on a golf course that's not too long, not too tough and not too expensive?

You go to a place like Twining Valley Golf Club in Dresher in Montgomery County.

``We're a recreational course, not a country club,'' said Twining Valley director Hugh Reilly. ``If you want to learn the game, come here. We try to keep it fun and keep it moving.''

Keeping things moving sometimes can be a challenge. It's not unusual, Reilly said, to see golfers on the first tee whiff the ball, setting off groans among the group set to play behind them.

If you're just starting out, that's the kind of attitude and facility you're looking for -- a course that knows it's not Augusta National and you aren't Tiger Woods.

That's not to say that Twining Valley is a complete pushover. With a slope of 114, it hovers right at the national average of 113 in degree of difficulty, although it is shorter than the national average of 6,300 yards by a couple hundred.

If that sounds a little vague, it's by necessity. Fact is Twining Valley has 19, not 18, holes, because there's always one hole closed for renovation. Golfers get rerouted as necessary to complete the full round of 18. Of course, that means the length of the course changes from time to time, depending on which hole is closed for repairs.

None of this should concern you too much. The important issue is that Twining Valley is a decent course for beginners and high- to mid-handicappers, as well as seniors and juniors who may be on a budget.

Of course, for many golfers, the most important bit of information about Twining Valley is the cost -- $60 buys you a five-round pass good for anytime weekdays and after 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The track itself is mostly flat, although it does have a few hill holes, and it's not overly punishing with bunkers and water. The par 4s and 5s tend to be short and forgiving and, more importantly, so is the rough.

``We keep everything trimmed pretty short to keep play moving,'' Reilly said.

Reilly and his family have run Twining Valley for 16 years, ever since he signed a long-term lease with Upper Dublin Township. Since then, it has become a family affair.

Son Will is the head pro, son Hugh Jr. is the teaching pro and controller, mom Sue and daughter Trisha run the banquet facility. (Another son, Michael, is an assistant pro at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in nearby Lafayette Hill.)

Nine holes at Twining Valley were designed and built in 1931 by a Scot, Jacques Mellville, who first leased, then bought the property off Susquehanna Road in Upper Dublin Township. A second nine was added two years later.

In recent years, the Reilly family has been slowly renovating the course, most noticeably replacing the tiny, round, flat greens with larger, more receptive greens. So far, eight greens have been recast.

In two years, when the greens project is complete, the Reillys plan to remake another section of the course, closing the fourth and fifth holes to build a driving range and launch a golf academy.

Until the total makeover is compete, however, Twining Valley will likely have the look and feel of a course under construction.

As for the course in its current state, it won't challenge better golfers, but it's plenty to manage for lots of people.

The course starts you off with a short, uphill par 5 (436 yards), then a short par 4 (349 yards), then another short par 5 (441 yards). Even a relative newcomer to the game has a chance of reaching those greens in regulation.

Nos. 7, a par 3, and 9, a par 4, are very short -- we're talking driver or wedge, at most, although you can get into trouble on the 7th because of the ravine fronting the green.

The backside is more interesting and slightly more difficult, perhaps because of the hillier terrain.

The favorite hole among Twining Valley regulars is No. 15, a 321-yard par 4 that requires a tee shot from an elevated tee down to a plateau, then a second shot over a pond into a small green nestled into a hillside.

``Lots of balls go into the water there,'' Reilly said.

The next three holes aren't so bad either -- a 214-yard downhill par 3, a short dogleg par 4 into a tricky green, then an uphill par 3 that won't accept just any old shot.

If there is a criticism to be leveled at Twining Valley, it's that too many fairways and tees suffer from bare spots, perhaps a cost of the volume of play.

Originally published July 7, 1997