Sinking Valley Country Club (Altoona, PA on 08/05/17)

After our morning round we headed about 45 minutes north to Altoona to check out Sinking Valley Country Club. Sinking Valley is probably 20 minutes from downtown, out in the middle of nowhere. But, I guess I’d consider anything between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg the “middle of nowhere” around these parts. And now, I’ve probably offended my one reader from Pennsylvania! However, plenty of times a course’s remote location peaks my interest to play it! There can be a few gems hidden out in the boonies, and I think Sinking Valley is one of them!

Sinking Valley is one of those courses that welcomes you as you pull into the parking lot. You can see quite a few holes from the parking lot on this open, inviting layout. On the day we played, the clouds floated by and the green of the course contrasted perfectly with the blue and white sky. For whatever reason, playing here with some good weather was one of those “pinch me” moments that seemed to last the entire round. I uploaded plenty of pictures, so make sure to check them out!

As I’m sure you know I’ve been on an Ed Ault kick this summer. I’ve played probably half a dozen Ed Ault courses this summer that I’ve never played before, and that theme continued with Sinking Valley. As I’ve explained before, Ed Ault doesn’t really put together an extravagant routing or any fancy features. That’s the case here at Sinking Valley as it is what I’ll call a “linear” course. Most of the holes, except the par 3’s, run east and west. This means that you have uphill par 4’s and par 5’s and downhill par 4’s and par 5’s. The par 3’s are the only holes that run north and south, so there isn’t a ton of variety.

However, that routing works perfectly at Sinking Valley because of the terrain! Plus, it makes very efficient use of the land. As the course’s name indicates, it is in a valley. The clubhouse is located at the edge of some farmland, on the west side of the valley. Because of the way the land slopes, it would make for some goofy sloping fairways if the longer holes were routed north and south. For those readers in Virginia, think of the Mountains Greens Course at Massanutten if you can. There is no way to hit those fairways because of all the slope! That is what Ault avoided by running most of the holes up and down the ridge, instead of across it.

I played the blue tees which are 74.6/137/7032. That is longer than I prefer, but the whites were shorter than I wanted, so I sucked it up! It actually turned out to be a good choice to play from the blues, as I hit almost every club in my bag and didn’t think the course was as difficult as the rating and slope indicate. The biggest difficult at Sinking Valley are going to be some super long holes, including a 625 yard par 5 (the 7th) and a 485 yard par 4 (the 9th) on the front nine. Then on the back nine, the course closes with a 201 yard par 3, a 620 yard par 5, and a 460 yard par 4! The 7th, 9th, 17th, and 18th all are extremely downhill, so you can air it out as the holes play significantly less than their yardages. The other tricky part will be the greens as they are large and had more movement than I expected.

The best birdie chances are probably going to be two short par 5’s and the 13th and 14th holes. The 1st and the 11th are 460 yard par 5’s where you might find yourself with an eagle chance after a good drive. The 1st is a bit quirky as you need to be on the extreme left side of the fairway to go for the green, or hit a banana slice around some trees! But, if you play your cards right there you can get off to a good start. I fanned my drive out of bounds on the 11th, and then ended up making an eagle with my second ball. Hopefully you don’t have to waste an eagle the way I did! The 13th is the shortest par 4 on the course, playing only 345 yards. With potentially just a wedge into the green, it is a hole you’ll want to take advantage of. Even though the 14th is 420 yards it has one of the many elevated tee shots, so you might have another short iron approach there.

The conditions at Sinking Valley were very good! We paid $45 to play, but if you take this course and put it closer to a metropolitan area then they could charge $100 in the blink of an eye. Everything was lush and the course had a great look with some fescue and beautifully cut collars around the greens. The fairways and tees were like carpet and the greens rolled smoothly, with some speed. I had to be careful on the putts going down the mountain, as those were extra fast! Likewise, if I was putting into the mountain I could be more aggressive.

Sinking Valley checks a lot of boxes when it comes to things that I like in a course! It is a parkland style course with a handful of wooded holes, so it isn’t “scary” to play. To me, there’s nothing worse than focusing on where not to hit a golf shot! The course’s location provides for some great views and you won’t find any homes souring those views. Unless you dislike Ed Ault courses, I think Sinking Valley is worth checking out if you live within an hour, or if you are traveling along I-99.

#1 (460 yard par 5):

#2 (205 yard par 3):

#3 (410 yard par 4):

#4 (390 yard par 4):

#5 (396 yard par 4):

#6 (405 yard par 4):

#7 (625 yard par 5):

#8 (185 yard par 3):

#9 (485 yard par 4):

#10 (160 yard par 3):

#11 (460 yard par 5):

#12 (400 yard par 4):

#13 (345 yard par 4):

#14 (420 yard par 4):

#15 (405 yard par 4):

#16 (201 yard par 3):

#17 (620 yard par 5):

#18 (460 yard par 4):

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