Jericho National is a gem built to stand test of time
NEW HOPE, Pa. - Pennsylvania's Bucks County is famous for its beautiful color in the fall and the views of its hills overlooking the Delaware River. Hot-air balloon rides this time of year are at a premium
It's famous for its covered bridges, and people come from miles away to take driving tours of the old oak structures, complete with windows on either side.
Well now you can add golf to the list of items making this Southeastern section of Pennsylvania famous. Jericho National Golf Club, which opened just four years ago, is quickly becoming a classic. It is getting praise by the pound, and it even is getting mentioned in the same breath as some American classics.
Jericho National is a private golf only facility located in beautiful Bucks County, halfway between New Hope and Washington Crossing. The team of Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry designed the course. They also have Sand Barrens in New Jersey, Cooks Creek in Columbus, Ohio; Naples National in Naples, Fla.; and Eagle's Landing in Ocean City, Md., to their credit.
Their philosophy is to design golf courses that stir the spirit, exceed expectation and defy understanding. In doing that, golf becomes a complex puzzle requiring strength, skill and strategy -- set in an environment of unquestioning beauty, yet subject to the irrepressible forces of nature.
Jericho, owned by Mick Karabots, a self-made millionaire in the printing and publishing business, embodies all of that.
"Our ultimate goal for this particular golf club was to make it stand the test of time," Fry says, "so that 40 or 50 years from now it will be judged in the same league as a Merion (in the elite section of Philadelphia's suburbs known as the Main Line) or a Pine Valley or a Aronimink."
Donald Ross designed the Philadelphia area's Aronimink, which hosted the Senior PGA Championship this past summer, to put the best golfers to the supreme test -- that of exceptional long-iron play. Jericho certainly took a page from that book.
The course is situated in a rolling valley and offers open terrain and scenic views of nearby Jericho Mountain. The fairways feature generous landing areas, however, shot-placement is essential due to heavy mounding and a proliferation of sand bunkers. At first glance, the open fairways can be deceiving. Jericho is far from an easy stroll. With deep bunkers, slopes, valleys, doglegs and a 7,127-yard layout, it presents an extremely difficult test for a duffer and a very good challenge for a low handicapper.
The 12-inch high fescue is the great separator. It will eat your ball, so stay on the fairways or in the short rough, and while some think it is unfair, it is an essential part of the design.
"What happens on open sites, you'll notice it a lot on the great old golf courses throughout the world over in Scotland and Ireland is that open links sites lend themselves to lots of bunkers to help frame the golf hole and help turn the golf hole," Fry says. "That's the same thing we did here at Jericho National. You'll notice the holes that are in the trees have far less bunkers than the ones out in the open, and that's the reason." Once you get onto the course, you'll find history galore.
Jericho Mountain, which sits near the Delaware River in Bucks County, is near the site where General George Washington and his troops crossed into New Jersey. From the tee box at No. 6, off in the distance up on the far left hilltop, you can see Bowman's Tower, an area used by Washington and his lookouts to keep track of British troops.
The most exciting hole might be the 300-yard 8th, a 300-yard par-4. This is Jericho National's answer to the Cape Hole, a very famous hole on Long Island at the National Golf Links of America. It lies along the length of the irrigation pond and intimidates with its looks, but it actually is the easiest hole on the front and the second easiest on the course. The elaborate Allister MacKenzie style bunkers help focus the golfers' attention on the green, which is drivable for the big hitters.
Prominent Hurdzan designs in Ohio
• Blue Ash Golf Club, Blue Ash
• Cumberland Trail Golf Course, Pataskala
• Cooks Creek Golf Club, Ashland
• Eaglesticks Golf Course, Zanesville
• Golf Club at Dublin, Dublin
• Indian Springs Golf Course, Mechanicsburg
• StoneWater Golf Club, Highland Heights
• The Vineyard, Cincinnati
Holes No. 12 through No. 16 are encased in a hardwood forest, and the par-3 12th has a 25-foot deep bunker. While the hole is just 145 yards, it looks much more menacing.
One of the most demanding holes on the course is No. 13, a 424-yard, par-4, which demands accuracy from the tee due to the deep bunkers and knee-high fescue bordering the fairway. The 100-foot high Sycamore trees lining the fairway provide a chute into the scenic view to the green, which has a pasture and a barn as the backdrop. The nice off-site backdrop makes for great scenery, and it will remain there because it is in a floodplain and cannot be developed. The hole is made more difficult by a huge cliff-like drop-off to the right side of the fairway and the fact that the green slopes away from the incoming shots. It's a beautiful hole, but a stiff test as well.
The 15th is a 254-yard downhill par-3 that drops approximately 50 feet. It's the biggest topographical change on the golf course in one shot, and it probably will play 20-25 yards shorter than the actual yardage. Jericho Creek runs just behind the green, but the hole plays so long it doesn't come into play.
There is some relief when you get back out in the open on No. 17, which has an enormous 70-yard wide fairway that splits into a double fairway on the second shot. You choose your poison. The second shot requires a decision; it is a risk-reward shot. If you play it left, you actually have to hit over the bunkers on your third shot to the green. If you hit to the right side you have a chance to reach the green in two or you might be left with a bump and run on your third shot with no bunkers in your way.
The finishing hole embodies what many great designers want in a classic finishing hole - a dramatic view off the tee with a downhill shot and the clubhouse as a backdrop. This par-4 hole drops about 30-35 feet in elevation on the tee shot. The second shot goes uphill into a well bunkered green.
After the round, many golfers retire to the second floor of the clubhouse, which has a balcony perfect for enjoying a Yuengling draft and the breathtaking scenery of the course and the colorful hills that make Bucks County so famous. When you leave, you will go away talking about are the vistas galore and the stunning 360-degree panoramas.
Jericho National offers four classifications of non-equity memberships: single, family, corporate and limited.
The corporate membership is intriguing to many big companies in the area, as it allows a firm to designate three individuals within the company who will have privileges for that membership year. The company is also entitled to send two foursomes to the club each week to play golf unaccompanied by any of the designated individuals as well as reserve a weekday tee time up to 30 days in advance.
The limited membership allows for play on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only. Perfect if you work weekends.
Jericho National houses two dining venues, the Restaurant and Charlie's Tavern.
The Restaurant, set on the second floor of the clubhouse overlooks the plush fairways and greens and provides the perfect blend of elegance and ambiance with exquisite food. The Restaurant is outfitted with fine china, crystal, a fireplace, and both the menu and the wine list will complete the experience for you.
Charlie's Tavern is a casual, friendly, grill room, offering light fare for lunch and dinner. The open-air dining area overlooks the putting green, the first tee and the 18th green. It's a perfect place to relax for an after-round drink or a cheese steak at the turn.
Banquets and large gatherings
Jericho National bills itself as the premier banquet facility in Bucks County. It houses the largest ballroom in the area for social functions. They staff wedding receptions, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties, proms and many other grand affairs. Each item, from the butchered meats on the premise to the fresh-baked pastries and breads, is prepared from scratch.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street., Independence Mall
New Hope Winery
6123 Lower York Rd., Rte. 202
New Hope, Pa.
(215) 794-2331 or (800) 592-WINE
The name Jericho National comes from nearby Jericho Mountain, which sits near the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pa., near the site where General George Washington and his troops crossed into New Jersey.
From Philadelphia: Take I-95 North to exit 51 (New Hope). Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp onto Taylorsville Road. Go north for 5.3 miles until the road intersects with River Road, Route 32. Turn left, or north, and proceed less than a mile to Brownsburg Road East. Go left about a half mile and the clubhouse is on your left.
From the Trenton/Princeton area: Take I-295 that turns into I-95 West to the first exit in Pennsylvania, New Hope, just across the Delaware River. Bear right onto Taylorsville Road. Go north for 5.3 miles until the road intersects with River Road, Route 32. Turn left, or north, and proceed less than a mile to Brownsburg Road East. Go left about a half mile and the clubhouse is on your left.
From the New Hope area and points north of the club: Take Rt. 202 into New Hope's main business district. Turn South on Rt. 32, also called River Road, and go until you reach Brownsburg Road East. Turn right and the clubhouse will be about a half mile on your left.
From the Richboro/Ivyland area: Take Street Road (Rt. 132) east until you come to Rt. 232. Head north on Rt. 232, crossing Rt. 413, until you come to Pineville Road. Turn right and go until it ends. Turn left onto Eagle Road and follow Eagle Road until you come to a stop sign. Turn right until you come upon Brownsburg Road East on your left. Turn left and proceed to the clubhouse on your right.
October 21, 2003