Jamison, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - When all is said and done, Heritage Creek Golf Club, in the heart of Bucks County, Pa., will be an 18-hole layout, complete with all the fixins. But for now, we will just have to settle for nine.
Certainly not a bad alternative as the planned community continues to grow over the next several years.
Crafted by golf course architect, Kelly Blake Moran, Heritage Creek's growth spurt has been a slow and arduous task, as it actually began in 1998.
Moran, who apprenticed for Robert von Hagge design for over a decade before heading out on his own, has designed and renovated many courses around the western hemisphere, including several in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
His work, however at Heritage Creek might end up being his most rewarding.
"Through a series of events, although I was not privy to all of them, there were several issues with the land, more importantly, acquiring the land," said Moran. "There was a home that was part of the property across the street where Generals Washington and Lafayette met and may have stayed, so their were negotiations with the township about how that home was going to be utilized. There were a lot of negotiations and permits with the local township and it took a lot of years to get to this point and we're still not done. I would say the heavy work has been done, and now it's just a matter of trying to get into an economy that makes sense to move forward with the golf course and hopefully that will come soon."
The first six holes began to show form in 2006-07, with additional work in 2010-11 and finally the remaining three holes were completed in 2012.
The philosophy of Moran is simple. "I try to find golf holes on the land that I would enjoy playing, that interest me," continued Moran. "I try to look at it as a golfer, not as an architect."
As mentioned, nine holes are open for play, with a pair of hole locations on each putting surface, which will allow each player to play the so-called traditional 18 holes or just a quick nine.
What type of course is Heritage Creek? When completed, it will be a tale of two cities, so to speak.
"It's two very different pieces of land. Most of what you see on the lower part is more open land and it's very different than what you see up above, where there will be a lot more elevation change and more wooded," said Moran.
The master plan for Heritage Creek will be a par-71 layout, over 6,500 yards in length with water coming into play on eight holes. Some of what makes Heritage Creek unique is the bunkering of the course, which is far from typical.
"The bunkers are more grass-faced, steep-faced," said Moran, with flat bottom sand and low sand lines and we're not as concerned with the appearance of the bunker from the tee or from the fairway, but more concerned about placement of the bunker and how it affects play."
Although the overall yardage of the course is short by today's standards, the elevation changes on many of the holes, such as the uphill 17th, that are yet to be completed and the traversing of Little Neshaminy Creek throughout the property, will make the course play close to 7,000 yards in length.
In addition, Heritage Creek features many risk-reward holes, like the driveable 3rd, forced carries (akin to the par-3 fifth) and many strategic challenges, like the fourth, 10th, 15th and 18th.
Heritage Creek is owned by the home-building Mignatti family, who date back over a century. The community that they have created here is far from your typical golf community, as none of the homes infringe upon the golf course.
"We had a very traumatic event happen with the economy, and I think Mignatti did the prudent thing and proceeded very carefully and only built as much as they felt was sustainable," added Moran. "I think the strategy they took was smart."
The challenge of the course will be all you can handle from tee to green. And speaking of the putting surfaces, they feature plenty of movement and a wide variety of shapes and sizes, a definite feature of a Kelly Blake Moran design.
"I don't buy into the fact that we have to dumb down design to make it more playable," said Moran. "There's plenty of those courses around. I think that undulating greens make it interesting and it's part of the strategy of trying to hit it in the right part of the green. You have to provide greens that require people to think about where they're going to leave the ball."
That's just part of the beauty of Heritage Creek. Scenic sitelines, several signature holes and a wide variety of distinct holes will certainly get your juices flowing. Heritage Creek is most definitely worth a visit.