Golfing in the Valley: Packsaddle Ridge - Good view, great deals

KEEZLETOWN — When Packsaddle Ridge opened in 2002, it did to much acclaim and received many accolades, such as "The No. 5 Best New Affordable Course in the USA" by Golf Digest.

But time, heavy competition for the public golf dollar and perhaps its remote location has played its toll on Packsaddle.

Still a stunning layout with million dollar views and a true test of golf, it's obvious on a recent visit that Packsaddle Ridge is not the jewel it once was over a decade ago.

Rumors abound about the course that sits on the opposite ridge of the Massanutten Ski resort.

Rumors that the course is hurting financially and could shutter the doors abound.

Spotty conditioning has led to the unflattering nickname "Hacksaddle Ridge" by those who have recently paid a visit.

I have to admit that the conditioning in a recent visit in June to Packsaddle Ridge was average at best, albeit the visit did come after the property had received heavy rain in the days before.

One thing for sure, Packsaddle Ridge is not the same coursed it was when I visited with a group nearly a decade ago.

But I still recommend visiting Packsaddle Ridge for a round. Like

I stated before, it's still a great layout and there are plenty of deals to be found.

Visit the clubs website at

The journey to the course takes it's share of back roads and is off the beaten path, with the main entrance nearly a mile to the club from the front gate.

The clubhouse sits atop a ridge overlooking the course and offers fabulous views with a wrap around covered porch.

The clubhouse itself is roomy and inviting.

Packsaddle Ridge covers over 500 acres of rolling mountainside land and the four-year project designed by Russell Breeden and Jeff Forbes, required one million tons of rock and 750,000 tons of topsoil to be moved.

There are plenty of elevation changes at Packsaddle Ridge with the short uphill par 4 13th offering up the best views on the property.

Once on the green of this 379-yard (from the tips) the views include those of downtown Harrisonburg and James Madison University, stretching to the hill of West Va.

Two of the most interesting and entertaining golf holes on the course come next with the short par 4 14th and downhill par 3 15th.

With six sets of tees to chose from the 14th stretches back to 323 yards down to 243.

The slight dogleg right tee shot begs for a lay-up off the tee as a large raven sits between the end of the fairway and the long diagonal green.

Only the brave and truly long hitters should even entertain the thought of trying to drive this fun par 4.

Even if you are not playing the back tees, (playing at over 7,000 yards) it's worth a drive up to the highly elevated teeing are.

From there it's 215 yards downhill to the roundish green that is protected by a small pond in front and a large greenside bunker to the left.

The front nine at Packsaddle Ridge also has it's share of fun, tough and daring golf holes.

The par 3 3rd plays at 175 yards from the back tee and the small narrow green is protected in front by a small stream and a pair of devious bunkers.

The 590-yard par 5 6th plays gradually downhill and allows for golfers to bust a drive off the tee and for the longer hitter a chance to knock it on this small green.

Perhaps the toughest par 3 at Packsaddle is the 227-yard 7th that requires a precisely struck shot to a small round green that sits atop a plateau.

Take in Packsaddle Ridge while the price is right, and before, perhaps, it's too late.

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