Skippack is a tale of two nines. One of them -- the front -- is a tightly packed, basic and simple trek that tests fundamentals but requires little elite talent. The other -- the back -- is a undulating and challenging adventure that will have you feeling lucky to have only lost one sleeve of golf balls.

The golf course, located near Harlesyville up Route 476, is a traffic-free 35 minute drive from Center City and a very affordable option for a serious (or even beginning) golfer. 

And it's worth the trip. If for no other reason than to bare witness to one of the -- if not the toughest par four in the Philadelphia area.

"The signature hole here is 13, it's county known," Skippack's general manager Tim Astheimer said. "It was voted a few years ago as one of the hardest holes in Montgomery County. Many people know us for that hole, and many love it because it's a good test of golf and others hate it because it's a hard test of golf."

The narrow downhill and lengthy hole requires a straight tee shot with thick forest on either side. Hit your tee shot too short and you're faced with a steep and lengthy second over a 40-foot drop and creek. Hit it too long and you'll have an awkward downhill lie. A bevy of hazards beckon below with a tree-protected green welcoming a rare perfect approach.

Though not perfectly manicured, the course is kept in very good shape with challengeable greens and a full gambit of golf-shots required to score well. It also boasts a well-maintained and solid restaurant and bar.

However don't expect speedy play. With a smiling, knowledgeable and accommodating staff you'll be well taken care of, but often forced to wait to tee off behind an overstuffed and inconsistent (time and distance-wise) golf course.

Local knowledge tip: "Get your bad shots out of the way on the front nine, it's easier to spray the ball and get around on the front and then on the back you need to start hitting then straighter.​"

Price range: From $20 (if you get lucky on golfnow.com) to $55 (on a weekend morning)

Website: http://www.skippackgolfclub.com​