Location: Lebanon, Pa.
Course architects: Franklin Murry, Russell Roberts
Tee – Yardage l Rating / Slope:
Back – 7,015 l 73.5 / 135
Middle – 6,436 l 70.6 / 126
Forward – 5,985 l 68.5 / 120
Saturday morning green fee: $ ($46 with cart before 10 a.m.; less after 10 a.m. | $35 walking before 10 a.m.; less after 10 a.m.)
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Rye and poa annua mix
Greens: Bentgrass and poa annua
Starter: Fairview Golf Course is the top-rated public golf course in Lebanon County, located just 25 miles east of Harrisburg. The course opened in 1958 and was purchased by Distinct Golf Group in 1966. Situated at the base of the nearby Gretna Mountains, Fairview offers elevation changes that are not usually noticeable in the area. There is only one water hazard — on the 10th-hole approach — but there are plenty of mature trees. There were even more, until an F-3 tornado touched down on the property in 2004, falling 375 trees. Hundreds of volunteers helped to clear the grounds and the golf course was reopened for play in just seven days.
Play because ... : Fairview is one of five public golf courses owned by Jim Jones and his extended family in the Mid-Atlantic region. The 59-year-old Jones is the golf course superintendent and the big boss. He is a third-generation superintendent who says, "I try to honor my late father every day I’m at the golf course.” The course welcomes 30,000 rounds per year, and corporate outings are a specialty.
Takeaway: Jim Jones takes everything personal, and he will do his best to make sure you receive value for your money. Fairview is proof that “public golf is much better than people think,” said Jones, who has a part-time winter gig as a member of the broadcast team for the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears. Knickers restaurant, adjacent to the first tee, is stocked with sports memorabilia, a tribute to the relationships that Jones has built and kept. According to Jones, 14 members of this year’s Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals have played at Fairview within the past five years, when they were with the Hershey Bears.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 9.0
Pro shop: 7.5
Pace of play: 8.5
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best Par 3: No. 15 (179 | 170 | 151 yards)
This hole is beautifully framed by a red barn that sits beyond the hole. Generally, this hole is rated as the second hardest par-3 hole on the course, and par here is worth a fist pump. The hole is slightly uphill and plays about 10 yards longer than listed. There are bunkers left and right, but more than anything else avoid being above the hole location as the green slopes severely from back to front.
Best Par 4: No. 11 (370 | 356 | 345 yards)
Billed as the start of Fairview’s own “Amen Corner,” this is the first of tough back-to-back par 4s. A good tee shot will relieve some pressure on this uphill dogleg to the right. The approach shot here will play a bit longer than its yardage, so take enough club to clear the front greenside bunkers to the left and right. Because of the uphill view, those bunkers look more imposing than they actually are. My former boss at the USGA and golf buddy said simply, “This is an easy bogey but a very difficult par.”
Best Par 5: No. 7 (510 | 498 | 416 yards)
This hole bends right to left, but the fairway slopes in the opposite direction, leaving an uneven lie for a long second shot. Big hitters might have a chance to get home in two, but, for most, a couple of decent shots will leave a pitch to this large green and a putt for birdie. Like most greens on the course, this one slopes back to front.
Rated by: Craig Smith