Well, this weekend didn’t turn out as planned, but I made it work! Some friends and I were scheduled to play Carroll Valley on Saturday, but two of us rescheduled that to Sunday because of rainy weather. My other friend wasn’t feeling well so I ended up heading to Carroll Valley on my own to do battle with the course on a windy day! The proshop was understanding that it was just me and I appreciate that!
Carroll Valley is an Ed Ault design that is a part of a four seasons resort. The course and resort are about 20 minutes from Gettysburg, which is a popular tourist destination. I was actually in Gettysburg earlier this year doing touristy stuff and would highly suggest that trip if you’ve never done it! Although I just walked through parts of the resort trying to find the proshop, it is an impressive facility! There is a large, brand new building called the lodge which has guest rooms, a spa, a fitness center, the proshop and who knows what else! As you’ll see from a picture or two, it is close to the ski slopes and the course.
I joined two brothers and we all navigated our way around the golf course for the first time. Carroll Valley wasn’t the most difficult course to play for the first time, which is something I appreciate since I play so many courses just once! What made it tough was the wind! More on that in a moment though. My friend is the one who found this place so chances are we will be back here to play it together. I know he typically likes Ed Ault designs so I’m sure he would enjoy it. We played Bryce Valley earlier this year, and I think that is a good comparison! Though, Carroll Valley is the longer of the two courses.
As the name indicates, the course is in a valley (a small one) and Ault didn’t have a lot of space to work with when laying out the holes. Except for a few holes around the clubhouse, the rest of the course is laid out in a linear pattern and runs in a north south direction. Both nines run away from the clubhouse before making a 180 degree turn and heading back. This out and in layout seems to be heavily affected by the wind blowing in the valley. Most likely you will face a wind you like and one you don’t, no matter what type of shot shape you prefer. I played on a day when the wind was howling and half the course played super long while the other half played super short! The ranger rolled by on the back nine and had a chuckle at all of us crazies out trying to reach the holes into wind! There is some minor elevation change, but nothing extreme.
Our group played the blue tees which are 72.3/128/6688 and as you can see, Carroll Valley isn’t a course that will hurt you too much. It is one of those places that I could see myself coming back to play if I lived nearby. I was rewarded for good shots and the course let me enjoy the company of my playing partners! Sadly, some courses are just so difficult that I have no desire to return. I’m a sucker for courses with views and Carroll Valley has its share!
While there is lost ball trouble that can affect play on a third of the holes, all that trouble is right in front of you. Tom’s Creek cuts through the southern portion of the course while a pond affects play on holes near the clubhouse. The holes with water could be extra tough for those who don’t carry the ball a long way. I know we had our hands full with the 9th! If you can avoid the spots with water then you can put together a good round because the design lets you play to your strengths, whatever those are. The fairways are narrower which can favor a straight driver but you can hit it left and right like I do, and still scramble for pars. The greens have gentle contours so if putting is your thing you can get on a roll as the putts won’t have massive amounts of break!
Carroll Valley is what I would classify as a parkland style course. Even though the course is at the base of a mountain, that dense vegetation won’t be in play except on the perimeter holes. Most of the holes are parallel to each other, separated by trees with some cleared out spots underneath. You could end up in another fairway if you aren’t careful, but I found the spacing between the holes more than adequate. There are only about a dozen homes on the course, many of which are found on the last three holes and shouldn’t be a bother.
Carroll Valley is unique because it is a par 71 with six par 3’s, five par 5’s, and seven par 4’s. As someone who typically thinks that par 4’s are the least interesting of the three, I enjoy courses with an extra par 3 or par 5! The 9th, a potentially reachable par 5, is probably the best hole on the course if you ask me! If you challenge the water off the tee then it can lead to a shorter second shot. But, if you don’t hit a good drive then you will have to hit a brilliant second shot just to clear the water! The 16th, at 437 yards, is the longest par 4 on the course. It features a blind, sloping fairway and an uphill second shot.
The conditions at Carroll Valley were good. The course was soft from recent rain and some areas were roped. The rough was long and we had to keep a close eye on where our shots ended up. The fairways and tees were full and lush. The greens were smooth and rolled at a nice holing pace. I enjoyed that the look that native grass added to the course, especially on some bunker tongues! I paid $70 on a weekend morning and would say that is an average value considering that this area is a tourist destination. If you put the course another maybe 20 minutes from Gettysburg or disassociate it from the resort, then the price would probably be more in line with my expectations.
If you are vacationing to Gettysburg and are looking to play some golf, you can put Carroll Valley on your list. It is a good vacation course as it won’t beat you up too much!
#1 (505 yard par 5):
#2 (397 yard par 4):
#3 (153 yard par 3):
#4 (584 yard par 5):
#5 (201 yard par 3):
#6 (346 yard par 4):
#7 (400 yard par 4):
#8 (223 yard par 3):
#9 (502 yard par 5):
#10 (395 yard par 4):
#11 (213 yard par 3):
#12 (545 yard par 5):
#13 (419 yard par 4):
#14 (415 yard par 4):
#15 (183 yard par 3):
#16 (437 yard par 4):
#17 (555 yard par 5):
#18 (215 yard par 3):