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Ready, Aim, Fire at The Links at Gettysburg
Some folks will tell you the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg, PA, are haunted by Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died there in the defining battle of America’s Civil War. Maybe so. But there can be no denying the fact that, some 160 years later, shots are still being fired left and right just a few miles away.
Welcome to The Links at Gettysburg, a significant test of a golfer’s mettle forged near the Mason-Dixon line. A round, here, marches you up and down the rolling Pennsylvania countryside, with lakes and creeks on almost every hole and dramatic rock cliffs that form the backdrop for some of the most memorable golf you’ll ever experience. When the smoke clears and your final score is posted, you will understand why this daily-fee course routinely ranks among the Mid-Atlantic’s most ballyhooed layouts.
In 1999, course architect Lindsay Irvin and landscape designer Steve Klein combined their immense talents to transform a stunning piece of property into a collection of fascinating and unique holes. Their commitment to creating something truly special makes you feel as if you’re in the heat of battle as you move from one spectacular tee box to the next. The layout’s most prominent land feature, its red rock cliffs, come into play on six holes. They are buttressed by 35 acres of lakes, a stream that dissects the center of the course, and a creek that encircles three-quarters of it.
Marketed as “Golf’s Gettysburg Address,” no expense was spared at The Links at Gettysburg — from the manicured tee-to-green bentgrass, to the sprawling clubhouse, all the way to the miniature Civil War cannons that serve as tee markers. This is daily-fee golf at its very best, but at a surprisingly reasonable rate given its upscale pedigree.
History buffs will tell you President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg speech, delivered Nov. 19, 1863, was only 272 words long. Perhaps taking a cue from Honest Abe, Irvin and Klein’s collaboration takes even less time to throw down the gauntlet. There’s no preamble. Hole 1, a short par 4, sets the stage for the skirmishes ahead. It calls for a fairway wood or long iron off the tee played just short of a ravine. A precise mid-iron must then be mustered to carry the stone-filled creek in front of a two-tiered green.
The par 3, No. 3 holds fort as The Links at Gettysburg’s signature hole. The tee area, boxed in by tall trees, sits atop an elevated perch and looks down at a massive red rock cliff wrapped around the shallow green far below. Hit the ball too far and you’ll find the large trap in front of the granite wall. Leave it short and watch the shot disappear into the rock-strewn creek in front of the green.
The 600-yard, par-5 no. 7 is the top handicap hole. It is played from a high bluff to a ribbon of fairway grass that runs between two large water hazards. The smart play is to drop your tee shot about 200 yards out before the fairway angles to the right and the water infringes on the left. The brave, and foolish, may want to try to cut off some yardage by taking on the pond on the right. Clear the inside corner and you’ll shorten the hole significantly.
Number 12 is a shorter par 3 played to a large, multi-tiered island green. The hole assaults the senses as you stroll over a stone bridge to stand over a putt in the shadow of a huge cliff while listening to the low roar of a waterfall.
Every golfer is familiar with Augusta’s “Amen Corner.” The Links at Gettysburg has its own version at holes 13-15. This par 4-5-3 trio can make or break your round, with water playing pivotal roles in club selection and accuracy.
The Links at Gettysburg closes its address with danger, drama and beauty. Number 18 is a reachable-in-two par 5, but only if you can avoid the ponds on the left and right. A heroic second shot must contend with three bunkers that guard the left side of the green and a “moat” designed to ward off eagle hunters. A towering rock wall, blasted from the earth, lines the back of the hole with the clubhouse above, presenting the opportunity for a dramatic finish in front of a friendly gallery.
There are no weak “links” here — and, in truth, every hole could be considered for a centerfold spread. Yet, despite its many natural and manmade obstacles and hazards, The Links at Gettysburg remains exceedingly playable for all ranks and files if played from the appropriate tees. If you keep your head down, aim carefully, and make strategic use of the promotional offers made available in TeeTime Golf Pass, you could find yourself whistling “Dixie” no matter which side you ascribe to.