I had the opportunity recently to golf at Arnold Palmer's Latrobe Country Club. For any golfer born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, Latrobe CC is a special place. It's not the fanciest, most-expensive or most-exclusive country club in the area; not by a longshot. And it's not the highest-ranked course in the area. Some might say it's not even really a great course. But it's the course where The King, Arnold Palmer, learned to play the game. It's the course where his dad, Deacon Palmer, served as both greenskeeper and club pro. It's the place where Arnold built the game that would carry him to greatness, including seven major championships. And it's the place he loved the most, where he chose to have his ashes spread after his death in 2016. To walk the fairways is to walk on sacred land, at least in the religion of golf. And there will forever be something special about being a kid from Western PA getting to play shots on the same fairways and greens that Arnold Palmer played as a kid and to which he chose to return throughout his life.
Shot 93 for the day, which sounds worse than it felt. I hit the ball well tee-to-green, for the most part, but I couldn't putt to save my life. And a couple of blow-up holes did me in. Still, it was a terrific day -- beautiful weather on a fantastic course with a great playing partner. I couldn't ask for much more than that. Here are some pictures from my visit to Latrobe.
Hole 1 at Latrobe Country Club plays downhill and across the road to an elevated green. Take it from someone who learned the hard way ... don't leave your approach shot above the hole if you want to two-putt this one.
Hole 7 at Latrobe plays tight up the chute between Holes 6 and 8. It can be a bit of a shooting gallery with players from both holes firing your way from the opposite direction, but boy is it pretty as you make your way up the hill.
Hole 8 is a strong par-4, tight off the tee with even a good drive in the fairway leaving you a mid-iron from a downhill lie into a green protected by water.
Hole 10 is a long par-3, playing more than 220 yards from the tips to a green guarded by bunkers. And don't pull that long iron left; there's water hiding behind those pine trees.
Three iconic covered bridges are a signature feature of the course at Latrobe Country Club. This was my second time playing the course, and I was surprised to find I never saw this beautiful little spot along the creek the last time I was there. It's the kind of place I wouldn't mind sitting down to read a book (maybe 'A Life Well Played,' by Arnold Palmer) ... if I didn't have more golf to play!
No. 18 at Latrobe plays back across the road and up the hill, parallel to Hole 1 on the left. It's a tight driving hole; those trees seem to reach out and grab any slightly wayward tee shot. But a ball hit up the middle will leave a relatively easy mid- to short-iron into the green for one last birdie opportunity.
Aim your approach at the American flag behind the 18th green, and you know you've got the right line to the hole.
No visit to Latrobe Country Club would be complete without a brief stop to see some of Arnold's many trophies on display in the clubhouse.
And when you retire to the dining room following your round, what would you drink at Arnold Palmer's Latrobe Country Club if not an actual Arnold Palmer (half iced tea/half lemonade, and they're happy to make it with liquor if you need to forget some of the putts you missed out on the course).
And, lastly, I can't write a blog post about a visit to Latrobe without mentioning my favorite pizza place in the world -- Gino Giannilli's on Thompson Street in Latrobe. I've loved Gino's and their sweet pizza sauce for more than 25 years now, and I never go to Latrobe (or near Latrobe) without stopping to pick up a pizza (or two) from Gino's. If you're in the area, do yourself a favor, and stop by for a pizza pie.