HEISER: Quail Valley off beaten path, but will offer stern test for York County Amateur

Steve Heiser
York Dispatch
  • The York County Amateur is slated for this weekend at Quail Valley Golf Club.
  • The course is located in southern Adams County, between Littlestown and Gettysburg.
  • This is the first time that Quail Valley will play host to the York County Amateur.

Quail Valley Golf Club may not be familiar to many folks in York County.

The course sits a little more than 10 miles from the county’s southwest border.

Matt Henry is the defending York County Amateur champion.

It’s nearly 30 miles from Continental Square and is a little off the beaten path, sitting near the Mason-Dixon Line in rural southern Adams County.

Still, this weekend, the best amateur golfers from the area will make the trip to Quail Valley to compete for the most prestigious trophy offered by the York County Amateur Golf Association.

The York County Amateur will be played Saturday and Sunday at the track situated between Littlestown and Gettysburg.

It’s a journey that will be well worth the trip for the 52 players in the field.

That’s because Quail Valley is a championship-caliber layout that is challenging, fair and well-manicured, especially for a public course.

The YCAGA in recent years opened its membership to clubs located outside of York County, including The Bridges (near Abbottstown), Lebanon Country Club and Quail Valley.

Quail Valley previously played host to the YCAGA Senior Championship, but this will be the first time the course will hold the York County Amateur.

The players will face a layout that can be stretched to more than 7,000 yards, features firm and fast greens and boasts a wide variety of holes.

Some are narrow and tree-lined, others are more open. Water comes into play on numerous occasions, including an island hole (No. 13), which is expected to play about 165 yards and features a narrow, but deep green.

Pivotal holes: On many courses, the good players look at the par-5 holes as scoring opportunities. That may not be the case at Quail Valley. From the tips, each of the par-5 holes measure at least 540 yards, including the monstrous 15th, that features a 626-yard championship tee, out of bounds left, trees on the right and a creek that protects the green short and to the right. There’s a good reason it’s the No. 2 handicap hole.

Some other pivotal holes this weekend that could determine the champion will likely be:

►The 408-yard, par-4 third hole, where players will hit down a narrow hallway with trees lining both sides of the fairway and out of bounds to the right. It’s the No. 3 handicap hole.

►The 427-yard, par-4 fifth hole, which features an awkward driving angle, a creek and out of bounds to the left and a pond that protects the green to the right. It’s the No. 1 handicap hole.

►The 585-yard, par-5 18th, which is a classic risk-reward finishing hole. Really big hitters could give it a go in two, but danger lurks, with a pond short of the green, high grass to the right and traps on both sides.

David Bennett, the executive director of the YCAGA, believes Quail Valley will provide a stern test.

“The course will test your course management,” he said. “It’s in great shape. The greens will be double cut and rolled and will be rolling quick. The fairways are in excellent condition and the rough is good. You can end up out of position real quick. I like the layout. It’s relatively flat, but those greens have some hidden breaks. It’s a challenge.”

The course statistics back up Bennett’s assertion. The slope rating from the tips is 139, while the course rating is 74.2. Those are intimidating numbers.

Bennett said the course will play about 6,850 yards for Saturday’s first round and more than 7,000 yards for Sunday’s final round. Only the top 40 players, and ties, will advance to Sunday’s action.

The field, unfortunately, is not especially large. The driving distance to Quail Valley, especially for the players in eastern York County, may be one reason. Bennett, however, said smaller fields have become a problem for most of the regional amateur organizations, including those based in Lancaster and Harrisburg.

“We’ve lost the 30- and 40-year-old players and I don’t know where they went,” he said.

Top players will be there: Still, nearly all of the big guns in York County golf will be at Quail Valley.

Matt Henry storms back to capture York County Amateur

Defending champion Matt Henry will chase his fourth York County Amateur title. He’s No. 1 in the YCAGA War of the Roses point standings. Henry is also a longtime South Hills player, which is only about 10 miles from Quail Valley, so he’s likely familiar with the course, which could give him an edge.

Six-time champion Bill Brenner, five-time champion T.J. Ostrom, three-time champion Scott Knouse, 2015 champion Axel Hartman and 2007 champion Bob Ruby are also entered. Ruby is No. 2 in the War of the Roses standings.

Other players ranked in the War of the Roses top 10 who will compete are No. 3 Brett Berkheimer, No. 4 Steve Goodley, No. 5 Bobby Stiffler, No. 6. John Lowder Jr. and No. 8 Scott Dobak. Ostrom is No. 7 in the standings. Among the missing are Cary Walton (No. 8) and Dennis Lankford (No. 10).

There are also some younger players, in the 18-to-25-year-old range, who could be major contenders, especially given Quail Valley’s length. One young gun who won’t compete, however, is Central York High School standout Joe Parrini.

Put it all together, and it has the potential to be a captivating weekend of golf.

Even if the course is a little off the beaten path.

Steve Heiser sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.