Late in 1912 George Crump, a Philadelphia hotelman, became obsessed with the idea of building a great golf course in the rugged sand-and-pine country of southwestern New Jersey. After lavishing six years of his life on his project, Crump died in 1918. Four years later the final four holes (which Crump had designed) were completed, and the leaders of the golf world began to visit and play Pine Valley, "Crump's Folly." They found not only a great course but an epochal one, 18 tough and imaginatively challenging holes—"an examination in golf," as Bernard Darwin called it in admiration and awe.
By general agreement Pine Valley is the most difficult course in the world. To begin with, each hole is an isolated entity, shut off from the rest of the layout by thick woodlands. One must be straight and one must be fairly long as well, for it takes a pretty good carry to reach the beginning of the fairway from the tees. The intervening yards are a punishing waste of sand strewn liberally with pine bushes, scrub oak, hawthorn, German heather and mountain laurel. Make a mistake at Pine Valley any place and you pay the most uncompromising penalties in golf. It takes a very good golfer indeed to break 100 there the first time around.
"Have you ever played Pine Valley?" There is no more frequent conversation-starter in sport, and simply to be able to answer yes assures a man a definite cachet at any golf club in the world.
7th hole is crossed by compact desert, "Hell's Half Acre," possibly the world's biggest trap
August 24, 1958
Along with the hole-framing woodlands, sand dominates Pine Valley, its aspect and its strategy—heavy, coarse, bush-strewn sand, much harder to play from than civilized bunkers, a few of which Pine Valley throws in for good measure
10th hole, a 145-yard pars and a comparative soft touch, features an island green set in a sea of sand
2nd green lies at crest of stern, sloping Sahara
18th hole is rough closer—424-yard 4 to a plateau green protected first by a stream, then by bunkering