Silver Creek CC (Private)
1947, Donald Ross
Fat Guy Review, Championship Course (2008): Back in the heydey of the American steel industry in the 1950's & '60's, Bethlehem Steel Corp owned and operated 5 or 6 seperate country clubs in the Bethlehem area. You've heard of one of them: Saucon Valley, host of two U.S. Senior Opens and the 2009 U.S. Women's Open. Saucon was designed by Herbert Strong, with later minor revisions by Perry Maxwell (Southern Hills), William Gordon (DuPont CC & Seaview Pines), and more recently, Tom Fazio.
While Saucon Valley was the private haven of the Bethlehem Steel big wigs back in the day, nearby Silver Creek was the stomping grounds of the plant supervisors. It's only a couple miles from Saucon, and boasts similar hilly terrain. The original 18 was laid out by Donald Ross in 1947, shortly before his death. Although Ross' original "Hill Nine" is highly regarded by golf critics today, it wasn't long before the membership declared it too difficult; it's cut out of the forest, with 200 feet in elevation changes (upwards of 125' on individual holes), an abundance of uphill/downhill/sidehill lies, and small, undulating greens. A third nine was added in 1960 by William and Dave Gordon, and combined with Ross' original valley holes to form the "Championship Course", making for a less masochistic round. Members and guests can still play the original Ross routing if on slow days if you ask the starter politely.
The Championship Course is a classic Northeastern parkland country club design, with mostly-generous fairways (some with mature overhanging trees carving off the edges of tee ball lanes for those of us curvier hitters), and plenty of uphill and natural dogleg holes playing to elevated "bike saddle" greens fronted by bunkers, usually on both sides. You'd better be dead-on with your irons when playing here, because missing your target line or distance by as little as 7 yards on your approach can mean the difference between a legit birdie putt or facing a short-sided bunker shot. No hidden hazards, but a few blind shots due to the elevation changes. Conditions were very good when I played it in early October, featuring carpet-like fairways with nary a broken tee to be seen on the tee boxes, and long nasty rough (my member host claimed the rough was longer than usual due to recent rains preventing timely mowing). All day I seemed to be a club or two short, due to the soft turf, cooler October temps, uphill approach shots, and fall breezes, so club accordingly in less-than-ideal conditions. Rating: 8.25
Best Bar Nearby: Housed in the sprawling old school stone-and-white-siding clubhouse is a nice bar and grill with two medium-sized plasmas hanging over the bar. They make a half-decent buffalo wing and a nice T&T. For a semi-nearby Gentlemen's club, hit Coyote's Show Bar just off the 476 Northeast Extension Quakertown (?) exit. Also, nearby Copperhead Grille looked like a nice spot for a drink and an upscale meal.
Golf.com Review: Private, 27 holes, $$$$$ This club has two outstanding courses. The Championship Course has wide open fairways lined with intermittent trees that rarely cause problems for the better players. The large greens are undulating, and out-of-bounds stakes line many holes. There is a creek that winds through the course which comes into play on at least six different occasions. The Hill Nine Course is very wooded and hilly. The tree-lined fairways are narrow, and the large greens are undulating. The hilly terrain causes many changes in elevation in the fairways.