Jim Bogan has been playing at Bensalem Country Club for 45 years. And he's seen it all.
From dreary, slow and unkempt conditions to one of the areas most picturesque and challenging old-style courses, the director of golf is proud to call Bensalem home. And can't wait to share his course with the community.
The layout was already extremely challenging and enjoyable, but now that the course is in tip-top shape — with quick poana greens and thick manicured rough — it's a course that should be on any local golfer's to-do list.
"We were always noted for two things — extremely hard in the peak heat, overcrowded and course conditions were horrible," Bogan recalled. "We have reversed some of the trends."
"When the township came in here in 2006 the course was as bad as it ever was. They put some money into it and really turned it around. They brought in a great new superintendent."
The front nine slithers back and forth through the woods, offering attackable short par 4s mixed with challenging par 3s and a few fierce doglegs, like the drivable seventh or intimidating eighth.
Putting the ball in the right place (i.e., not using the driver too often) is the key on this track.
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"You have to play it a couple times to figure out where to hit the ball," Bogan said. "The course when I have played it, a lot of times, you bring real good players in here and they have a dickens of a time. It manages to be tricky enough."
The tricky part is the back nine, which weaves its way back and forth across gorgeous vistas that play with your sense of depth and distance. Picking the right club is paramount, as is hitting the ball straight.
"[The par-5 ]16th is complicated, but 14 was always our signature hole," Bogan said of the par 3 that plays over 200 yards, requires a lengthy carry and features an oblong sloping green. "Years ago it was further back, a 250 carry. That green, I seven-putted that green when I was a pup."
Speaking of pups, the course draws a big crowd of junior golfers and features a dedicated staff committed to the game — and spreading it to the next generation.
" We are very active with junior programs," Bogan said. " Our staff teaches a lot of programs."
Local knowledge tip: "It's not a hooker's course to play, there's out of bounds here on 13 holes left."
Price range: From $23 (twilight, walking) to $55 (weekend morning)