Pennsylvania's capital region of Harrisburg has golf galore

By Darryl Berger, Contributor

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Harrisburg, an unremarkable town with a population of just over 50,000, is located in the south central part of Pennsylvania about 100 miles west of Philadelphia and 200 miles east of Pittsburgh. Location being everything, Harrisburg (not Philadelphia) became the capital of the Keystone State because it is more centrally located within the state.

There's more to Harrisburg than just lobbyists and legislators. The town is at the center of the Capital Golf Region, which also includes Lancaster, York, Gettysburg and Chambersburg. The development of some high-end golf courses during the past decade complements some solid courses that have been around for years. Together they have transformed the region into a legit golf destination.

In the tradition of the Pennsylvania Legislature, everyone who wants to learn more about golf in the Capital Region say aye! The ayes have it. Grab your clubs and follow me.

Must-play Harrisburg-area golf courses

Penn National Golf Club and Inn
Located in Fayetteville, Penn National boasts two outstanding 18-hole courses with very different designs. Penn National's Founders Course has been around since the late 60's and features classic design. The Iron Forge Course at Penn National opened in 1996 and it features a links design. Both golf courses are rated 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest magazine.

Carroll Valley Resort
The golf course at Carroll Valley Resort has six par 3s and five par 5s. Three miles down the road is the Carroll Valley Resort's Mountain View Golf Club, a shorter venue and not as demanding as its sister course.

Links at Gettysburg
The Links at Gettysburg golf course is located just south of Gettysburg, site of the historic three-day Civil War battle. The Links combines several man-made lakes with distinctive red rock outcroppings that create a number of dramatic holes. It's definitely a golf course with plenty of "wow appeal."

The Bridges Golf Club
Designed by two brothers with no previous experience in golf course design, Bridges Golf Club in Abbottstown turns out to be far above average. There are numerous wetlands spanned by 14 scenic bridges as you make your way around the loop.

Dauphin Highlands Golf Course
Located within a few miles of the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg, Dauphin Highlands Golf Course is a very strong municipal layout which mixes parkland and links golf. With its muni pricing, the course can be difficult to get on at times.

The best of the rest ...
Royal Oaks Golf Club in Lebanon is a strong links-style design. Briarwood Golf Club in York is a notable 36-hole complex, featuring the East Course and West Course. The newer West Course at Briarwood is considered the stronger of the two. Honey Run Golf and Country Club in York is a mature layout with some strategic flair. South Hills Golf Club in Hanover has 27 holes with the North/West combo offering the stiffest challenge. Springwood Golf Club in York offers dramatic up and down play. Majestic Ridge Golf Club in Chambersburg is target golf where some local knowledge comes in handy. The Whitetail Golf Resort in Mercersburg offers sporty resort golf in the shadow of the resort's ski area. Greencastle Greens Golf Club in Greencastle is solid challenge with some excellent holes in the mix.

Where to stay

The Hotel Hershey is about as good as is gets, if your budget can handle it. The grand old hotel was built during the depression by Chocolate magnate Milton Hershey. Staying there also gets you onto the East and West courses of Hershey Country Club (we told you about the public South course earlier).

Where to dine

Dining at the Hotel Hershey is an Epicurean fantasy. The Sunday Brunch there is especially good. More information is available at hersheypa.com. In the historic town of Gettysburg, visit the Dobbin House Tavern. The traditional menu is served in what is the oldest building in town and just across the street from where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Their Web site is dobbinhouse.com.

Off Course

In Hershey, you've got to experience Hershey Park with its dozens of amusement rides. Also take a tour of the chocolate factory. Again visit hersheypa.com much all the resort has to offer. For a taste of history, the National Battlefield of Gettysburg can be a very profound experience. The 1863 Civil War 3-day battle was a bloody massacre as the South's advance was repelled by the Union troops. The entire area is a wealth of historic landmarks.

Darryl Berger, Contributor


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