Iron Valley Sets the Bar
Dye Turns Old Iron Mine into One-of-a-Kind Layout
Wouldn’t it be nice to discover a golf course that allows you to forget about your worries and everything else going on in the world? Or a layout so unique and spectacular that you would pay for the privilege to just walk around it? Welcome to Iron Valley Golf Club, where architect extraordinaire P.B. Dye incorporated design elements you probably will never experience anywhere else.
Iron Valley opened in the spring of 2000 and lies on a large 352-acre tract of land that has historical significance dating back to the late 1700s. Located on the boundaries of Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in Pennsylvania, the course was constructed on the site of the Cornwall Iron Mines — one of the most productive sites of its kind for some 235 years before ceasing operation in 1972.
The daily-fee facility is under the auspices of Byler Golf Management, which also expertly operates regional favorites Broad Run, Berkleigh, Lebanon Valley and Blue Mountain. Each of these golf facilities has been awarded multiple awards and honors, and the company’s attention to detail makes a round at any one of the five a truly memorable and enjoyable day on the links.
At Iron Valley, a Dye-abolical combination of rugged terrain, expansive vistas and extreme elevation changes materializes into a layout literally carved through stone with turf laid on top. Distinguishable features of the iron ore operation remain, most noticeably the rock outcroppings. The front nine, or Tailings Nine, is played on a wide-open plain and has a Scottish links-style feel. Six of the holes are perched atop what is believed to be the largest man-made earth dam in the United States. Hole No. 1, for example, is a 435-yard par 4 which plays high on the rim of the dam and offers a world-class view from the green of nearby Hershey.
The short par-3 No. 5 (just 124 yards from the very back tees) is Dye’s nod to his equally famous golf architect dad, Pete. Judge the wind wisely and choose your club carefully on this rock-encased island green which replicates the thrill and excitement of No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass. It is complimented by the longest hole on the front, the 535-yard, par-5 No. 7. Water and marsh border the left side of the fairway which hooks to the left near the narrow green.
In contrast, the back nine or Mine Nine cuts through deep woods. The 356-yard No. 11 will dispel any thoughts you have that this is just another daily-fee course. An 85-foot-deep pit to the right-front of the green narrows the approach areas to 40 yards. Over compensate left or long and your shot will disappear over a cliff. Dye’s flair for the dramatic, which he inherited honestly from his father, is on full display at No. 13, a monstrous 588-yard par 5 built on a mining shaft cave-in. The adventure begins with a 200-yard carry to a raised landing area. The second equally as difficult second shot is played to the crook of a dogleg left with woods and a pond squeezing the landing zone. The approach is then lofted to a small green nestled between two sand traps.
Dye’s design talent combined with the property’s natural terrain and elevation changes (430 feet in all) make for a one-of-a-kind playing experience. There are no out-of-bounds markers and no public roads in view. The goal from the start was to offer something different from start to finish and Iron Valley exceeds that by a country mile. At just over 7,000 yards from the championship markers, Iron Valley is more than most mere mortals can handle. Fortunately, with four sets of tees, the degree of difficulty can be tailored to each golfer’s skills.
Ranked the 8th best course you can play in Pennsylvania by Golf Magazine, Iron Valley — as well as the other four courses which make up the Byler Golf Trail — is a must-play layout. Add in lunch at the club’s excellent Miner’s Pub Restaurant and a visit there only gets that much better. And best, still, Iron Valley offers TeeTime Golf Pass members some nice incentives to show off its amazing course and world-class amenities. It is an invitation that deserves a swift reply.