Mention golf courses in the Allentown-Bethlehem area, and the first place that comes to mind is Saucon Valley Country Club, which hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 1992 and again in 2000.
Getting there: Locust Valley Golf Club is at 5525 Locust Valley Rd., Coopersburg, Pa. Take the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Exit 32 (Quakertown) and make a left on to 663 North. Go to the second red light and turn left on to Allentown Road. Go about 5 miles, Locust Valley Golf Club is on the left. Phone: 610-282-4711. Web site: www.locustvalleygolfclub.com
Greens fees: Weekdays, $24 to walk, $37 to ride; Weekday twilight (after 4 p.m.), $13 to walk, $26 to ride. Weekends, $47 with cart; 2 p.m.-twilight, $26 to walk; twilight, $17 to walk, $30 to ride. Special: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., $30 with cart.
Carts: Mandatory until noon on weekends.
Spikes: Soft preferred.
Amenities: Moderately stocked pro shop, outdoor snack bar, outdoor banquet facilities, no driving range.
Rating: Tight, well-conditioned, good loop.
Information accurate as of 8/22/2002
There's also plenty to be said for the four-star public course south of Allentown, Center Valley Club.
But daily-fee players on the lookout for another quality track should also consider Locust Valley Golf Club in Coopersburg, over the Lehigh County line near Route 309.
Locust Valley -- a one-time private club rescued from bankruptcy a dozen years ago by four local businessmen -- is no Saucon Valley, nor is it on a par with Center Valley, but that still leaves plenty of room for quality.
A no-frills operation to be sure, Locust Valley is a mature tree-lined course, where narrow fairways and small, bunkered greens will test the accuracy of your driver and irons.
Designed by William Gordon, who laid out Saucon Valley's celebrated Grace course, Locust Valley doesn't aspire to greatness. But it offers picturesque and demanding holes, and fully deserves its three-star rating from Golf Digest's Places to Play. Some of the comments in Places to Play are right on the money: ``old-time feel . . . tree-lined slicer's nightmare . . . good variety of holes . . . shotmaker's course . . . used to be private club and has seen better days.''
Indeed, any golfer wrestling with a wayward driver faces quite the conundrum at Locust Valley. At 6,503 yards from the back tees, with a slope of 132, the course is long enough to tempt you to reach for the big stick time and time again. Yet, with virtually every fairway lined by trees on one or both sides, you can frequently find yourself punching out from under a limb or peering around at the green from behind a towering oak.
``The third 406 yards and fourth holes 434 are famous among regulars because they are so tight and long,'' said Rick Schwab, who owns the course along with his father, Carl; local businessman Don Stahley; and head professional Jim Kuehner.
Famous holes, maybe, but certainly not favorites among the regulars. That status is reserved for No. 9, a downhill wedge plop (120 yards) over a pond, and for No. 18, a 385-yard downhill dogleg that dares you to cut the corner over two ponds for a better shot into the small, slightly elevated green. (No. 18 is also easily the most picture-perfect hole on the course.)
Even though mountains are visible in the distance, Locust Valley is, save for a handful of holes, flat. The only water on the course is on Nos. 9 and 18.
Gordon -- who also designed Bethlehem Municipal, Bucks Country Golf Club, Sunnybrook Country Club and White Manor Country Club -- laid out the first nine at what was then Locust Valley Country Club in 1954. He returned the next year to complete the 18, then did considerable redesign work in 1963.
In 1985, with the club facing serious money woes, Schwab and his partners stepped in and made it public.
Anyone who hasn't played the course in several years might notice a difference -- an irrigation system installed last year will keep the fairways from burning out in July and August.
A survey last year indicated that 40 percent of the patrons come from Montgomery and Bucks Counties.
Orginally published June 1, 1997