Galen Hall Golf Club is a Par 72 layout for the men and Par 73 for women. Elevation changes, sidehill lies, and undulating greens are among some of the features that make playing Galen Hall Golf Club a unique golfing experience. The golfer will also encounter difficult Par 3's, including the famous Moat Hole, and reachable Par 5's. The Moat Hole is a true island green and according to some historians, the first island green ever created. The fifteenth hole at Galen Hall was designed and built in 1917 by famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast when he added nine holes to the existing golf course.
The Reading Eagle recently voted this benign looking hole the best starting hole in Berks County. Although tempting for the longest hitters to try to drive the green, the smart play is to leave a full shot into the green. The ideal tee shot for most players favors the right side of the fairway opening up the green, which slopes from back left to front right. Approach shots landing right of the pin generally roll off the green. Missing the green left leaves a very difficult up and down. As with most holes at Galen Hall, approach shot positioning is very important.
Historical Note: Former Galen Hall Assistant Professional Steve Swartz hit a five iron from the tee then a sand wedge for his second shot into the hole for a two during a fabulous round of 63 he shot during the 2001 golf season.
This controversial hole has over a 100-foot elevation drop from the tee shot landing area to the green. A spotter will waive you to hit from the tee to a blind landing area. Beware on the tee box. Wind in your face will make the tee shot much more difficult. The best shot from the tee is a 220-yard shot splitting the directional flag and the big tree on the right behind the spotter. Your shot may end up in the right rough, but this area opens up the angle to the green, and this is the flattest lie you will get on the hole. Warning! The longer shot you play from the tee, the more you need to aim left, over the directional flag. Many tee shots that reach the road that bisects the hole at 260 yards, end up lost. The hole then drops over 100 feet for the next 150 yards then doglegs almost ninety degrees to the left. If you are unable to reach the green on your second shot, pitch your shot down the fairway just short of the trees at the end of the dogleg. Your approach shot from the top of the hill or the end of the fairway will kick severely from front left to back right. Often the shots that end up the closest to the hole do not land directly on the green.
Historical Note: The original second hole was a par three that teed from the woods behind one green and the green was located on the cart path short of the Douglas fir trees behind the second tee.
The third hole is one of many great, short par fours at Galen Hall. The wind is generally from the playerís right, making the preferred tee shot of a draw easier. Ideally, the tee shot ends up on the left side of the fairway leaving a full wedge or lofted club into the green. The front part of the green slopes away from you to a shelf on the back of the green. Any ball landing on the front part of the green will release to the middle of the green and a low shot may even run through the green into a trap that is 10 feet below the putting surface, making for a treacherous bunker shot. Most putts break to the players left when facing the green from the tee.
Historical Note: The third hole has a road that bisects the fairway 50 yards from the green making low shots into the green very challenging. This road accesses the maintenance building and homes that former owner Eli Martin had built on the land. Many courses around the country have lots and homes for sale; Eli was a visionary doing this in the 1960ís. By doing this, he pulled the facility out of debt and kept the doors open, allowing Galen Hall to survive.
The fourth hole at Galen Hall can stand on any course for any venue. The back tees are elevated and the green is surrounded by OB left, a steep bank and woods in back and a creek in the front, quartered from the front left to the back right. The wind is generally against the player but swirls and is often unpredictable. Players fortunate enough to land their tee shot on the green then have to navigate a green that falls to the left and bowls off on the right. Many players whose ball is on the opposite side of the green than the pin are extremely happy to walk away with a two putt. If you are thinking of laying up, the chip is especially difficult when the pin is in the front right of the green. Good luck on our best hole!
Historical Note: Many horror stories exist of players making big numbers on the fourth to lose tournaments, but back in 1987 Leon Buchterís sculled tee shot landed short of the creek, skipped over the creek, ran up on the green and in the hole helping him win the Berks County Amateur.
The short, uphill Par 4, once unreachable, is now reachable by our longest hitters at the club. The hole generally plays downwind. A player unable to safely reach the green and clear the pond on the left should hit a 180 Ė 190 yard club off the tee. Tee shots will kick to the right in the fairway. The pitch shot is uphill to the green that slopes from back to front with a steep hill on the back left portion of the green.
Historical Note: Noted architect A.W. Tillinghast re-designed the fifth hole (sixth at the time he worked on it) to compensate for a wet area. The hole he changed to an elbow or what we commonly call a dog leg. He moved the fairway out to the left, where the pond is now. What is now the fairway was a marsh area. Players could challenge the marsh area and try to land the drive up by the green, or lay back and leave a mid-iron into the green. He talks about the design in his book The Course Beautiful.
The elevated tee on this reachable Par 5 provides a panoramic view of the hole and some of the back nine from the tee. The prevailing wind is in your face and most tee shots will kick to the left. The longest players can reach a lateral water hazard in the tree line left of the fairway. Players not able to reach the green on their second shot should position themselves with a full shot in the middle of the fairway short of the cart path 60 yards from the green. The green is severely sloped from back to front and approach shots missed to the left and long are almost impossible to get up and down.
Historical Note: Caddies in the 1940ís through 1960ís often feared balls hit to the right of the sixth fairway. This area was often soft and balls would disappear in the knee-high grass and sink into the moist soil. Many a caddy had their tip reduced for not being able to find the errant shot.
Do not judge this book by its cover. At 136 yards, the seventh has thwarted many Sunday comebacks in club and county events. From the tee nestled in the woods near bedding areas for big whitetail bucks, you cannot see the green, only the flagstick. Simply aim for the middle of the green, do not be greedy. Tee shots to the left can bounce and roll 40 yards from the green, balls right of the green are just lucky if you get the pitches to stop on the green and long is much worse! The green is severely pitched from back to front.
Historical Note: Upon playing the seventh for the first time, a local club professional had a slick 3 foot par putt on the left center of the green. He played for the break and tapped his putt only to have it catch the lip, spin out, run off the front of the green and fifteen yards down the collar reminiscent of something you would see in the Masters or a U.S. Open. Not losing his cool, he calmly walked back to his bag, retrieved his wedge and chipped in for his four, mumbling all the way to the next tee.
Another elevated tee with a great view, this is our best Par 5 on the course. Reachable in two shots for only the longest players, the tee shot is best played down the right side of the fairway as all shots will kick and run left once landing. The play for the second shot is on the left center of the fairway leaving a short iron or pitch into this well bunkered green. The green runs from back to front and right to left when facing the green from the tee. Approach shots missed to the right are nearly impossible to get up and down.
Historical Note: Father and Son architects Gordon and Gordon added greens eight through eleven in 1963. The greens are a newer style saddle greens protected with many bunkers and are much different than the push up greens on the rest of the golf course.
An elevated fairway rewards high, long tee shots favoring the right side. The prevailing wind is in your face. Tee shots down the left side of the fairway will often roll off into the left rough and possibly in the tree line. The green is elevated and protected by a bunker on the front right and left of the green. Approach shots played from the left fairway or rough should have an extra club added to compensate for the change in elevation. This green has a false front and the back left corner will run away from you.
Historical Note: Hole nine rarely yields birdies much less an eagle, but during a 2007 member tournament two players made an eagle during the same round. One catch, there was an optional skins game and only one of the players entered, reaping the benefits. You never know when lightning is going to strike!
Our drop hole, the tenth is a fun hole that yields the most hole in ones at Galen Hall. The prevailing wind is from the playerís right. Take off a club when factoring the elevation change. The green has a false front; balls that are not at least ten feet on the green generally roll off the front. The green breaks from right to left and gets very fast in the back left corner going away from the center of the green.
Historical Note: The best chili and siesta dogs in the county are at the eleventh tee snack shack, so if you had a rough hole, grab a dog, it will make your day better.
Another short Par 4 that resembles a wolf in sheepís skin. The prevailing wind is generally behind you on the dog leg right. The preferred tee shot is a fade, started down the left side of the fairway. O.B. looms right off the tee, so make sure you aim far enough left. Tee shots will often run 10 Ė 30 yards from left to right once on the ground. The green runs slightly away from you, so even if you are hitting a lofted club into the green, play for the ball to release. The back right of the green is the fastest putt on the course that you donít notice until you have rolled your putt ten feet past. An approach shot landing right of the right greenside bunker has little chance of staying in bounds.
Historical Note: Before the days of fairway irrigation, the ground would become hard and fast holding very little grass in the middle of summer. As a result, tee shots landing in the fairway would often roll out of bounds. Eventually, it became so bad the only way to keep a ball landing in the fairway to stay in bounds was to place a chicken wire fence along the entire right rough.
Our longest Par 5, the twelfth usually plays downwind. An elevated tee through a chute of trees creates a nice view. The tee shot should favor the left fairway. Often the ground will be firm in that area and a tee shot can gain an extra 20 or 30 yards. Tee shots played too far right are blocked out by some trees on the right and make for a tough lay up shot. Long players can reach the green in two, which is guarded by a barn on the right. The barn is an integral part of the hole, only stance and swing relief is allowed. Approach shots to the green need to favor the left side, as everything kicks right. The approach will generally release away from you. There is a steep bank left of the green that will often kick balls back to the right and sometimes roll onto the green. This is our flattest green on the course; take advantage of it.
Historical Note: The forward tee on the twelfth hole used to be a green on A.W. Tillinghastís design. Players teed off from a tee near the current eighth green to the forward tee on the twelfth. Next time you are out take a look, it makes for a neat hole. Players then teed off from up by the road to play the next hole.
This is the last breather hole you get until the nineteenth. The four sets of tees allow for all level of players to clear the creek before the fairway. Long players can drive the green from their respective tee. Most approach shots are short in length, usually no more than 60 or 70 yards. Two bunkers in the front of each side of the green protect the green. Players should try to hit their tee ball to the opposite side of the fairway that the pin is on to give the best angle to the pin. The green has a false front and steep slope off the right side. If you are short sided, take your medicine and hit the pitch to the center of the green. The green slopes from back to front and putts can get away from you if you donít pay attention.
Historical Note: Back in the 1970ís local legends Herman Fry and Don Deeds won the Galen Hall Member Guest Shooting 58 better ball during their first round. Although there are many great shots required shooting a number like that, the highlight came on the thirteenth as Herman Fry holed out for an eagle.
Tough golf hole! The tee is elevated and the wind is usually with you, thatís the good news. The fourteenth has two creeks that bisect the fairway. The first requires a 250-yard carry from the Back tees and if you leak the tee shot right it requires a longer shot. If you try to lay up short, the ball can hang up on the hill leaving an awkward lie and a carry of over 200 yards to clear the second creek. If your lay up carries too far, the ball can roll into the first creek, because of this many Galen Hall members still play the antiquated local rule of a free drop from a tee shot that reaches the first creek. From there, once your ball is over the first creek, the approach shot is to a narrow green that slopes from left to right as does the fairway, and the green is guarded on the left by a large tree. Approach shots missed to the left and long are very difficult to get up and down. The green is benign for Galen Hall, however; putts can still get away from you.
Historical Note: In 1999, Bob Mogel held a five-stroke lead on the fourteenth tee of the Berks Publinks. Bob proceeded to make seven, Dan Mohn playing in the same group and trailing by five shots holed out for a two. They stepped on the 15th tee even. Bob eventually won the tournament by two shots, but this is an example how hole 14 can bring the best players to their knees anytime.
Commonly known as the Moat Hole, the fifteenth is among the oldest island greens still in circulation. Built in 1917 by renowned architect A. W. Tillinghast, the Moat Hole is sometimes compared to the seventeenth at TPC Sawgrass. The hole is not nearly as visually intimidating as the seventeenth at Sawgrass. However, from the championship tees it is much harder to hit the green. The green is surrounded by a 15-foot wide moat with ten-foot high banks. Three bridges are used to access the green. You can safely lay up short of this hole, unlike the seventeenth at Sawgrass. Many a match has changed dramatically through our amen corner, the fourteenth and fifteenth. If you are in a match and make two pars on these holes and lose ground, tell that guy to go out on the PGA Tour where they belong!
Historical Note: In the 1990ís, the moat hole was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. No less than renowned architect Pete Dye was interviewed for the article, drawing comparisons to his 17th at TPC Sawgrass. During the interview, Mr. Dye seemed unaware of the moat hole but intrigued by the A.W. Tillinghast designed hole.
Standing on the tee and looking at the green there are many visual obstacles to overcome. First is a pond that requires a shot to carry at least a hundred yards from the forward tees. Then a player will notice the steady climb up to the green. (You didnít think every hole was down hill, did you?) The wind is generally from the playerís left and tee shots kick to the right in the fairway. The key is to hit your tee shot over the maintenance road that bisects the fairway, leaving a short iron or pitch into the small severely sloped green. This green was carved out of the hill and errant shots left can occasionally bounce onto the green. If the shot hangs up on the hill, good luck getting up and down. This green is the final of the big three that are absolutely among the most difficult you will ever play. (Holes 6,7&16)
Historical Note: In August of 2005, this hole was the only blemish on the course record round of Chris Schultz. Chris bogeyed the sixteenth, but responded with a birdie on seventeen and an eagle on eighteen to shoot 60, the course record at Galen Hall.
This Par 3 has no tricks to it like the others. It is very straightforward. The tee is approximately some 50 feet below the green and the elevation change needs to be figured in when selecting your club. The wind is generally behind you, but it hurts you on this hole as it makes it very difficult to hold you approach shot. Low-ball hitters only shot is to land the ball short of the green with plenty of speed and run the ball up the hill onto the green.
Historical Note: The old seventeenth green was severely pitched from back to front to help receive shots from the tee. The design was good until maintenance equipment improved allowing greens cut shorter and becoming faster. This eventually made the green almost unplayable. In the mid 1970ís, new superintendent Bob Mogel, short on staff, recruited members who stripped the turf off the green and built up the front and middle of the green. The result was a green that was much more playable to putt, but one that does not receive a low tee shot as well.
With a prevailing wind behind you, longer players will challenge carrying the hill, which requires a 260 yard carry uphill. A successful tee shot will leave a player with an iron to the green. Most players cannot carry the hill, and at times, tee shots will roll back twenty, thirty even forty yards if course conditions are hard and fast. There is O.B. on both sides of the hole. Once a tee shot is in play, the hole will dog leg to the left and the best approach shot comes from the center of the fairway. The green is unplayable on the left, so you will only see hole locations in the middle and right side of the green. Many local players will use the slope on the left side of the green as a backstop or sideboard dependent upon their approach angle.
Historical Note: In 1978, Jim Camella sank an eagle putt on the eighteenth to apparently win the Berks Amateur. At the scoreboard, it was discovered that he had forgotten a local rule of no fairways on par three's. Earlier on the fifteenth, his tee shot landed on the green but rolled back on to the collar, where he marked and lifted his ball. Jim added the stroke penalty to his score, forcing a playoff with Bill Whitman and eventual winner Cotton Hirneisen. Unlike the raucous crowd around the scoreboard, Jim handled the entire situation as a true gentleman.
Copyright 2013. Galen Hall Golf Club 645 North Galen Hall Road, Wernersville, PA 19565 Proshop: 610.678.9535 Restaurant: 610.678.5424