‘Hidden gem’ Longue Vue Club gears up to co-host U.S. Amateur

Saturday, July 17, 2021 | 4:54 PM

Nestled high above the Allegheny River Valley in Verona and on the border of Penn Hills is a challenging golf course that is relatively unknown.

“A hidden gem” is how president David Gilpatrick described Longue Vue Club, which, when built in 1920, was known as as the “Millionaires Club.” The course will celebrate its 100th year Labor Day weekend.

The striking clubhouse, which is filled with historic memorabilia, was built with stone from a quarry a mile-and-a-half away. And the course is more than challenging.

“Longue Vue has one of the most unique clubhouses in the state and maybe the country,” former Longue Vue member Sean Knapp said. “The course is manicured well, and the greens are frightening.

“It’s difficult to navigate around the course if you don’t put your ball in the right places. I don’t care how good your short game is. It’s a great test, and you have to be patient.”

Longue Vue, along with Oakmont Country Club, is co-hosting the 121st United States Golf Association’s Amateur Championship. Oakmont and Longue Vue will be the venues for stroke play competition Aug. 9 and 10. The courses are 6 miles apart.

Knapp, one of the players in the field of 312, was a member at Longue Vue for 20 years.

A group of prominent businessmen created a retreat where family and friends could enjoy themselves.

In 1922, Robert White, the first PGA president, was commissioned to build the course. White was born in 1874 in St. Andrews, Scotland, and immigrated to the United States. He built the course, and, in 1935, legendary golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast renovated it.

“We’re extremely happy that Oakmont asked us to co-host,” Gilpatrick said. “We’ve worked well with them in the past, and we’re excited to show off our course. I believe the players will find the course very challenging.”

Like Oakmont, Longue Vue cleared a lot of trees on the property to open up the layout.

The course is 6,720 yards long and plays at par 70. And not only is the course in superb shape, the golfers will have some spectacular views of the Allegheny River Valley.

“On No. 2, you can look towards Aspinwall, Etna and Sharpsburg,” Gilpatrick said. On No. 15 green, you can look back up the valley and see Verona and the Hulton Bridge in Oakmont.”

And even though the course sits on top of a hill overlooking the valley, it’s a relatively easy course to walk.

The front nine features two difficult par 3’s (Nos. 3 and 5) and a tough par 5 (No. 4). The back nine has three par 3’s and some lengthy par 4’s. The slope rating from the championship tees is 14.

“Oakmont likes the deep roughs and fast greens,” Gilpatrick said. “We can provide the same. I know we get on our superintendent (Corbin Blier) when the greens aren’t fast enough.”

The course’s subtle greens are fast, and the numerous bunkers placed strategically around the course make golfers use multiple clubs to stay away from trouble.

Longue Vue has held two previous USGA events: the Girls Championship in 1966 and the Women’s Amateur qualifier in 1993.

It also has hosted numerous Tri-State Section PGA, Western Pennsylvania Golf Association and Pennsylvania Golf Association events.

But the U.S. Amateur will be Longue Vue’s biggest event to this point.

“We can’t wait to work with the USGA,” Gilpatrick said. “Hopefully, it will lead to bigger things. The biggest thing, we want to put on a spectacular event.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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