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Aug 12

State College Golf and Biblical Rain

Mountain View Country Club Outside State College Should Have Rented Out Arks for the Most Exciting Rain I’ve Ever Seen

Every two or three years, my wife and I drive throughout the United States in a big southern loop, rising up to the middle Atlantic states, then returning home across the top. Along the way, we stop to see close friends from times gone by. Having crossed the United States so many times on the ground, and using so many routes, I like to take note on many of the golf courses I see as well. On occasion, one strikes me as particularly interesting. And, sometimes, the town that houses it is also interesting. This year’s ‘most interesting award’ goes to Mountain View Country Club in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, just outside State College, home of Penn State University. Where we started in the west is usually verdant to the nines, sometimes called the Emerald Empire. Right now, however, it is 108 degrees, in the midst of a drought, and filled with forest fire smoke. State College is apparently where all the rain went. It’s so green, it would drive the Wizard of Oz mad.

I didn’t go to play golf at the Mountain View Country Club in Boalsburg. I went to the 19th hole to have lunch on our last day there. The food excellent. Many weddings are hosted there, and I can see why, considering the charming decor of the club’s interior. A hotel is being added right next to the course of approximately one hundred rooms. But that’s not what struck me today. What struck me was a lightning storm resembling a four year-old flicking the light switch as fast as he or she can. What struck me was a display of thunder that sounded like all the greatest symphonic percussion sections going off in the world at the same time. I saw rain so hard and driving that the poor souls caught out on the gorgeous course looked more and more as if they were being shelled by artillery. The sprint to the 19th hole, undertaken by every living creature on the course, looked like a Serengeti stampede. Safely behind a triple-paned window, I got to look over a course I would dearly love to play in the near future. Mountain View is nestled between sweeping, smooth mountains with ridge tops in every direction. Designer Llowell Erdman, who conceived of the course in 1963, gave it just the right amount of undulation to blend with the high hills. He gave it breadth, beautiful barriers that add luster and danger to each hole. Erdman must be a State College resident, because he also built it for rain. If he had not, it would have been wiped off the face of the earth after what I experienced today.
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As a kid, I loved to play in rain, even raging storms – but then, I was an idiot. I’m still happy to keep swinging in a drizzle, but the rivers coming off Mountain View were powerful and daunting. Through it all, I kept looking at the deepest shade of green I have seen in the whole trip, and yearning to get my clubs out here. The rain was surprisingly not short-lived. It raged on for a half hour or more. Then suddenly, it moved on, and the Serengeti golfers cleared the deck to return to the fairways. Rain aside, in addition to the numerous courses in the State College area huge expanses of lawn are set aside for university buildings, parks, and corporations. I always mistake them for golf courses, and when I realize that they are not, I design one before they go out of sight. But Mountain View was so verdant that we began calling it “The Shire.” I have only experienced that kind of rain in a car hoping that my windshield wouldn’t break. But for a course like this, I’ll go out and risk it Tomorrow finds us in Ontario. Some great courses are situated there as well. The eastern seaboard has certainly made a great green impression, and we look forward to more.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.