OLDE STONEWALL GOLF COURSE – Ellwood City, PA
A – Playability & Challenge
A – Quality of Course
A+ – Memorability
A – Service Levels
A – Pro Shop
A – 19th Hole Experience
A – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
(Written by Jim Dee) … Olde Stonewall is an unlikely name for a golf course, but it all comes together as you drive into the entrance. You know you are getting close when you see an imposing castle in the distance, and as you drive to the bag drop area, you realize that this is a full size stone-walled castle (hence the name … duh!) that holds the clubhouse, pro shop, and an outstanding restaurant. But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself … more on that five star restaurant later.
Getting to this place is a bit of a trek, with no shortcuts available to make it any easier. Follow the directions from the Pittsburgh airport and you find yourself tooling along mostly two-lane state highways cut out of the countryside. But when you arrive, you realize that this course is also cut out of the same hilly surroundings that you’ve been watching for most of the 40-minute ride.
And, what a course it is! This is no back and forth runway or cow pasture. Every hole has a distinct flavor to it. The course is a collection of 18 different personalities that come together to provide a changing, challenging environment all along the way. There’s a lot of elevation changes during the round, and when you get to the top of a hill to tee off, which you will do several times, you’ll view some of the best vistas of mountains and valleys that are to be found anywhere in the country.
After flying all day and arriving in the late afternoon, I must say that I did not bring my A-game, and it showed. I could have made it much easier on myself if I had simply followed the tips for each hole that were provided by the GPS system on the cart. And, perhaps more important would have been to follow the GPS instructions once I got in the fairway to plan my approach shots to the greens. When I followed the advice, I did ok. But when I didn’t, I usually found trouble and wound up with some crooked-numbered score on my card. It would be tough to single out any one hole for distinction because all 18 represent an outstanding challenge to any level game.
When we walked off the 18th green, (it was past dinner time by then) we were in for another nice surprise. First, it was off to a very nice locker room facility for a shower and a change of clothes. After all, this was Western Pennsylvania in the summer, and the humidity was thick enough to cut with a knife.
After a shower, we had dinner at the Shakespeare restaurant, which is within the four stone walls of the main building. Even though I’m no food critic, I experienced food and drink comparable to any five-star restaurant that I’ve ever visited. Forget the usual golf course fare of hot dogs and nachos, this is a white linen steakhouse that could give Ruth’s Chris a run for their money. Any visit to this course must include a meal at Shakespeare’s. You won’t be disappointed.
Avid golfers should make the effort to get out to Olde Stonewall. It’s a great summer getaway and a great alternative to some of the more southern courses that are baking in 100 degree weather. You’ll find the weather here to be very pleasant which helps make it a great experience. …