Carroll Valley Resort - Close Enough, But Definitely Far Away

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall


CARROLL VALLEY, PA – There’s a lot to be said for relaxing environments, and there’s quite a bit more to verbalize when talking up the game of golf.  Put these two together, and you’ve got a pretty desirable product – and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Carroll Valley Resort in southern Pennsylvania, just a short jaunt (8 miles) from the town of Gettysburg and the famous National Military Park.


Carroll Valley’s slogan is ‘A Short Drive, a World Away,’ and for those folks used to the fast-paced, done yesterday reality of the Nation’s Capital, that’s a very accurate description of the place.  Though it’s actually a bit further than the advertised one-hour outside the Capital Beltway (or it was to us), the world-away part is exactly how it feels.

At 477 yards, you'd think Carroll Valley's par five 9th hole would be a great birdie chance. But the second shot is uphill and over a lake -- so if your drive isn't perfectly positioned, it might be a difficult choice on what to do.


The ‘away’ sense begins with the pleasant two-lane roads leading to the resort, through the little town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, then following stone walls and hardwood shaded highways to the entrance at Carroll Valley, which could just as easily be the beginning of a day at your small town Country Club.


We visited in early November (2005), and were easily able to breeze through 36-holes, and still leave time for a quick tour around the battlefield after we finished.  It was as close to a total escape as you’re going to find around the DC area – and we were back in our own beds later that evening.


Despite its convenience, Carroll Valley isn’t necessarily intended to be a day-trip, though as outlined above, it very well can be.  The resort offers fifty-eight guest rooms, and also is a good place to ‘get away’ for your company’s meeting or retreat, with three meeting rooms and a large ballroom for banquets and weddings.

The 2nd hole on the Mountain View Course -- a peaceful, tranquil environment.


But we were there for the golf – and the ‘best kept secret’ theme doesn’t end there.  The resort offers two golf courses, the appropriately named Carroll Valley Course, and the equally well-monikered Mountain View Course just down the road from the main center.


The resort was originally developed in the mid 60’s by developer Charles Rist (as part of a residential development), and the existing Carroll Valley course was designed by Ed Ault and built in 1968.  Along with the golf course, the resort offered (and still does) a ski slope, which is now Ski Liberty.  The 18th hole of the course is right alongside the ski lifts, which reminds you of the land’s dual usage – and probably offers some opportunities to do both activities in the same day if there’s snow in the hills and a little warm early spring weather.


Mountain View was also designed by the firm of Ault, Clark & Associates, with the first nine holes opening in 1978, and later added the second nine holes in 1987.  Unlike the Carroll Valley course, which offers undulations that you’d expect at the base of a ski slope, Mountain View is relatively flat and very walker-friendly (Carroll Valley is also easily hiked, with tees and greens at reasonable distances).

You'll need to clear Tom's Creek on your approach to the par four 14th hole (Carroll Valley).


The Mountain View property also offers yet another connection to the historic nature of the area – the pro shop is located in an old farmhouse that pre-dates the Civil War, and is registered as a landmark with the National Registry of Historic Places.  The attendant wouldn’t reveal if he’d seen or heard anything ‘spooky’ in the building, but its close proximity to the battlefield probably means it was used as a hospital after the battle… and you never know what might still be lingering from that.


It’s the quaint mix of rural countryside and golf that makes up the experience at Carroll Valley Resort. 


The most prominent feature on the Carroll Valley Course is Tom’s Creek, which fronts five of the greens.  Though there aren’t any especially difficult carries on the course, if you’re not placed well off the tee, you might have difficulty clearing the creek, particularly on the par five 12th hole and par four 14th. 

In contrast to the front nine, the back side at Mountain View has several holes that require pinpoint accuracy. Here, the par three 12th hole.


There’s also a large lake that hugs the right sides of the par five ninth and par four tenth holes.  If you’re slicing off the tee, you could be in trouble here.


Carroll Valley plays to a par 71, but that includes five par fives and six par threes – so there’ll be some birdie chances along the way.  The aforementioned ninth hole is only 477 yards (par five), but the second shot requires a long carry over water.  If you choose to lay-up, it’ll only be a short pitch, leaving a lengthy uphill third shot to the green.  So even though the hole is short, it still can potentially play very long if your drive isn’t in the right spot.


Thankfully there’s a lot of room to play the ball.  Feel free to bring your driver and use it, as several of the holes are virtually mistake-proof off the tee, and the course’s low-cut rough will also allow you to find the ball and keep moving.  We played the course first-thing in the morning and it took us about 3 ½ hours of unhurried play to complete it.

Carroll Valley's 4th hole is a long three-shot par five (584 yards), but there's plenty of room to play the ball.


Mountain View is about a five minute drive from the main resort center.


The Mountain View course is somewhat ‘easier,’ though difficult enough to make it interesting.  Though you’ll have a hard time distinguishing some of the holes on the front, the back nine has more undulating ground and includes some rather tightly framed holes that demand accuracy.


One hole that required a little too much accuracy was the short par three sixteenth hole (144 yards), as trees overhang the hole so close that there really wasn’t a good way to approach the green unless you could hit a pretty sharp fade with a short iron off the tee.  If you hit it even slightly to the right, the trees will eat it – and left isn’t good either.

Finishing up on Mountain View's par five 18th hole.


One interesting thing about the course that was pointed out after the round – each hole on Mountain View goes in a different direction from the previous one.  So don’t expect a prevailing wind to last long, as each hole will present different exposure.


You might have to be a local to immediately recognize the different directional attitudes of the holes, and you’d also have to be a return visitor to realize the dramatic improvements in conditioning that the courses have enjoyed in recent years.  In talking with some of the members, they were all highly complimentary of the maintenance staffs – and there’s no doubting that the price is right for the playing conditions you’ll find at Carroll Valley Resort.


As a final note, though you’ll certainly think Carroll Valley is a great place to bring the kids, it’s also a place where couples can play some golf and enjoy the quiet – and there’s even a special ‘Romantic Getaway’ package designed just for that.  Packages include champagne and fresh roses upon arrival, then a candlelight dinner at The Inn at Carroll Valley, or delivered to your room.  You’ll be staying in one of the Deluxe Parlor Rooms, which includes a whirlpool bath, so the ‘in room’ service sounds pretty nice!

Looking at the Carroll Valley Course's 10th hole. It's hard to believe this kind of scenery is so close to the Washington Metopolitan area.


Of course you can customize the package to include golf.


Whether it’s for romance, a quick weekend retreat or even a day away from the grind, Carroll Valley Resort is a good place to keep in mind.  The fact that it’s on the doorstep of one of the region’s premier historic shrines makes it all the more appealing, because you can easily combine a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield with a little golf and relaxation.


The golf courses are solid if unspectacular, and the service is down-home friendly and not over-solicited.  What better way to kick up your feet for a spell and then hit the links.



Carroll Valley Resort

121 Sanders Road

PO Box 715

Carroll Valley, PA  17320


Phone:  (800) 548-8504; (717) 642-8211




General Manager:  Jennifer Jeffcoat

Golf Course Architect:  Ault, Clark & Associates

Owner:  Carl Sturges

Head Golf Professional:  Phil DelPopolo




Carroll Valley Course:

Blue    6633   72.3/128

White  6330   70.7/127

Gold    5647   66.7/123

Red     5022   68.8/116


Mountain View Course:

Blue    6420   71.2/128

White  6092   69.4/125

Gold    5455   66.3/116

Red     4961   68.4/118




Carroll Valley Course -- $47 Monday-Thursday, $53 Friday, and $56 Sat-Sun, Holidays.  Senior Rate is $37, Monday-Friday.


Mountain View Course -- $40 Monday-Friday, $47 Sat-Sun, Holidays.


Consult the website or call for package prices, including accommodations.

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