Pine Valley Golf Club
East Atlantic Avenue | Pine Valley, NJ 08021-
|Golf Professional||David W Clark||(856) 309-3203|
|General Manager||Charley M Raudenbush||(856) 309-3203|
|Superintendent||Richard Christian||(856) 309-3236|
|Architect||George A. Crump|
|Tee Sheet||Front 9||Back 9||Course|
Handicap Conversion Chart:
Except for two Walker Cup Matches—and those nearly 50 years apart—Pine Valley has never hosted a national or international competition. The preeminence of the course near Clementon, New Jersey, is an uncomplicated matter that has no connection with major events: Pine Valley simply has more great golf holes than any other course on the globe. Robert Trent Jones, the doyen of golf architects, once came to grips with this question in a precise mathematical fashion: “…. To my way of thinking, it [Pine Valley]… possesses more classic holes than any other course in the world—ten of the eighteen. Of the remaining holes, five are outstanding, two are good, and one, the twelfth, is ordinary, which, at Pine Valley, is tantamount to being a misfit.”
George Arthur Crump was the progenitor of this incomparable golf course. As Warner Shelley put it succinctly in his invaluable Pine Valley Golf Club: A Chronicle, published in 1982, “He [Crump] not only had the idea, he found the location, bought the land, designed the course, and then supervised its construction—hole by hole….” All this by a man who had never so much as fashioned a practice putting green in his back yard.
George Crump, the golfer, in his favorite knickers, broad-brimmed hat in hand.
But Crump was a very good player—one of the dozen or so best golfers in the Philadelphia area during the first 15 years of the new century and, in fact, a two-time winner (1901 and 1912) of the Patterson Cup. He was also a man of vision and energy who had very decided ideas about the challenges an accomplished player ought to be con-fronted with in striving for “level 4s.” He had played most of the important courses, both in this country and abroad. And he was a man of some means, one who would then have been called “comfortably fixed.”
Crump was born in 1871. His grandfather, William Hawkins Crump, was for a time editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and George’s father once served as the British vice-consul in Philadelphia. In the mid-19th century the Crump family came into possession of the Colonnade Hotel, a landmark at 15th and Chestnut Streets for more than 50 years.
George Crump himself inherited the Colonnade in 1902 and operated it till 1910, when he sold it for $300,000 or $500,000 or $1,000,000—reports of the proceeds vary considerably. A noted clubman (St. Davids Golf Club, Torresdale Country Club, Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Philadelphia Country Club, Country Club of Atlantic City, the Racquet Club, and, one is inclined to suspect, others) he had a multitude of friends. He was a big-boned and husky man who had a reputation for living life vigorously, for kindliness, for generosity in his opinions of others, and for good sportsmanship and integrity. He did not seek the limelight.
Crump did not marry until he was 35. The union lasted less than a year; his wife, Isabelle, who had been quite active in local civic affairs, died in 1907, not long after returning from a long European tour.
When severe winter weather rendered Philadelphia courses unplayable, Crump and a few of his chums often took the Reading Railroad to Atlantic City, where they could count on the course at least being open. In the fall of 1912, several avid golfers, including Crump, met to discuss building a course in nearby New Jersey—perhaps in the Pine Barrens—where the soil and weather conditions might be a little more favorable for winter golf than they were on the Philadelphia side of the Delaware. Crump was chosen to find a suitable site.
For years Pine Valley lore had it that Crump spotted the land from a train window one wintry Saturday on his way to the seashore and said to himself, “What a place for a golf course!” More recently, however, evidence has surfaced that he had come to know the ground by virtue of hunting for small game there. In any event, as 1912 was drawing to a close, he wrote to his friends: “I think I have landed on something pretty fine. It is 14 miles below Camden, at a stop called Sumner, on the Reading R.R. to Atlantic City—a sandy soil, with rolling ground, among the Pines.” Crump saw the opportunity to build an inland course that would possess some seaside characteristics.
A committee promptly went down to look the property over and just as promptly agreed with Crump that it was ideal. The handful of men involved, with Crump pointing the way, were somehow able to imagine worthwhile golf holes in what was actually a discouraging wilderness of pines, scrub growths, sand hills, swamp, and thick under-brush. One’s instinct would be to label the chosen site godforsaken were it not for the presence of the man who was named secretary of the fledgling organization, none other than Father Carr. Warner Shelly tells us that Simon Carr was “Crump’s closest confidant and constant golfing companion.”
The land Crump chose was part of a much larger tract owned by a man named Sumner Ireland. Early in 1913, Ireland sold 184 acres to Crump for $50 an acre. Over the years, the original purchase was added to, piece by piece, so that Pine Valley now owns 623 acres. George Crump’s eighteen occupies 195 of them.
Well, it was one thing to find the spot, rather another to found the club. Crump was pleased to place the latter task in the hands of a “Committee on Organization” consisting of Howard Perrin, Joseph S. Clark, and William P. Smith. Crump accepted the chairmanship of the greens commit-tee, which carried with it the responsibility for designing and building the course. Howard Perrin, whom Warner Shelly calls “ever genial,” would serve terms as president of the Golf Association of Philadelphia, of the Pennsylvania Golf Association, and of the United States Golf Association. (He must indeed have been “ever genial”!) In addition to his administrative ability, Perrin, who had won the Philadelphia Amateur in 1903 and 1906, could compose a powerful sales letter. On April Fools Day, 1913, he wrote to a select number of Philadelphia golfers:
For some years, a number of men who are interested in golf for golf’s sake have been thinking about the possibilities of a course easily accessible to Philadelphia, where the ground conditions were such as to allow the maximum amount of winter play. This place has been located by George A. Crump, some fifteen miles from Camden… just below Clementon, New Jersey….
There are lots of attractive sites for bungalows. There’ll be room for forty or fifty of them and these will be sold to club members and the proceeds turned into the club treasury and we believe that this will go a long way toward paying for the main clubhouse.
It is not a land scheme, for the ground will be turned over to the club at a very low cost price. It is not a moneymaking scheme, for the various men interested up to date, proposed to give their time and money for its construction. It is just the beginning of a plan whereby a first class golf course can be built near enough to Philadelphia, so that precious time isn’t lost getting to it, and where, because of thecharacter of the soil, we can get good golf during certain months of the year, when our courses aren’t playable.
A tentative plan for financing it is as follows: To pick out 200 to 250 good fellows, who are fond enough of the game and sufficiently interested in a plan of this kind to buy one share of stock, at $100 per share. That will give us $20,000 as a starter. Then eighteen men have already been found, each of whom have agreed to plan and build one hole. In a rough way, it is estimated that means $1,000 a hole. This is $18,000 more…. An unpretentious, but comfortable clubhouse will be built, the real object being a fine golf course, rather than a fine clubhouse.
…. There is room for a club of this kind; there is need for it and there are certainly enough men to whom this kind of a club will appeal…. It is not an investment. If you buy a share of stock, you very probably will never get your money back, but it will be well spent just the same.
Work on the construction of the course will begin this spring and it ought to be fairly playable by the fall of 1914….
Fill out the enclosed blank and mail to
Committee on Organization H. W. Perrin, Chairman Jos. S. Clark W. P. Smith
One hundred and forty-one men responded. These charter members were representative of the business, social, and sporting aristocracy of Philadelphia. Among them were George C. Thomas, Robert W. Lesley, Clarence H. Geist (utility tycoon who would build Seaview Country Club), and Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack. Mack would find golf at Pine Valley a comforting diversion as his Philadelphia Athletics struggled. According to a story in the Evening Ledger, Mack, a woefully poor golfer, hit his second shot short of the water on the 18th. Left with a pitch across the broad creek to the green, he said to his caddie, “What shall I take?” “Humph,” sneered the caddie, staring at the water, “I’d take an old ball.”
One sentence in Perrin’s sales letter is particularly pro-vocative: “Then eighteen men have already been found, each of whom have agreed to plan and build one hole.” Doubtless it is this statement that prompted the equally extraordinary disclosure by Tillinghast in the March, 1913, issue of the American Cricketer: “…. Each of the eighteen holes will be designed by a prominent Philadelphia golfer, although the suggestions will, of necessity, be carefully considered by the committee, and in many details changed in order to insure variety and balance.” Fortunately, this entire approach was scrapped, and neither prominent Philadelphia golfers nor the committee were responsible for the design of Pine Valley.
Financing the construction of the course and clubhouse did not turn out to be so pat a project as Howard Perrin’s letter suggested. His cost estimates failed to hold water. In 1914, in an effort to raise much-needed additional funds, members were encouraged to subscribe to a bond offering ($75,000 worth of 25-year bonds, guaranteed by a lien on the property). The offering was over-subscribed, chiefly because one member bought $50,000 worth of bonds. Was it Crump himself? Quite possibly. Several sources say that over one three-year span during construction of the course he spent $250,000 of his own money, without any expectation of getting it back.
Crump had very definite ideas, both general and specific, about how an outstanding course ought to look and what kinds of holes it ought to possess. He thought each hole should be out of sight from every other hole. And he hated parallel holes. He believed that a course should “box the compass” and that no more than two successive holes should run in the same direction. A well-designed eighteen should call for every shot in a good golfer’s repertoire, every club in the bag. He insisted that a bad shot—mis-hit or far off line—should be severely penalized. A 1915 story, not in the least apocryphal, affords some insight into Crump’s mindset—and his wry sense of humor. A prominent Philadelphia businessman with whom Crump was playing plugged his ball high in the face of one of the deepest bunkers. Short and stout, he struggled laboriously to the top of the hazard and called down, “George, why in the name of common sense did you build these bunkers so high? If I fall off here, I’ll break my neck.” Replied Crump, “Now you’ve got it. We build them so high that the dub golfers would all break their necks. This is a course for champions, and they never get into trouble.”
Father Carr has left us a detailed rundown of what George Crump wanted in his eighteen holes. From Pine Valley Golf Club: A Chronicle:
First, four one-shot holes, these to be well separated and two on each nine, to suit the four principal clubs—a mashie, a mid-iron, a cleek or spoon, and a full all-out driver. Then a genuine drive-and-pitch hole and a drive-and-pitch-and-run hole. Two holes, one on each nine, well separated, with exceptionally long second shots to get home. Also two three-shot holes, nicely separated, and never to be reached in two shots. Also four holes of the drive and mid-iron variety, well placed, two with bunkers in front and two with some open way to the green. And four more, designed in length for good healthy second shots after a good but not necessarily unusual drive—the greens open on two but with bunkers in front of, or threatening, on the two others.
Crump’s routing plan for Pine Valley is masterful: it pays strict obeisance to its creator’s precepts, yet it man-ages, remarkably, to appear splendidly non-conformist, as though each hole were the product not of any guideline or rule of thumb but of a singular lightning-like flash of inspiration. The boldness, the bigness, the grandeur, the uncompromising challenge that informs virtually every square foot of this nonpareil course all combine to elicit astonishment, awe, admiration. How, we are entitled to wonder, could George Crump ever have done it? Indeed, how could he ever have imagined it?
Well, as noted, he was an excellent golfer who had made it a point to see and play the best courses on both sides of the ocean. That helped a great deal. Second, he possessed a high quotient of creative intelligence, which enabled him to solve problems—and laying out a golf course is, at the very least, a succession of eighteen design problems—in a fresh, even original, fashion. What’s more, he brought to this task abundant enthusiasm and an unwillingness to settle for the conventional, the usual, the prosaic. And keep in mind that though he may have been without any experience when it came to designing a golf course, he was nevertheless functioning in an established tradition, that of the gifted “amateur golf architect”: Charles Blair Macdonald at the National Golf Links of America, Henry and William Fownes at Oakmont, Hugh Wilson at Merion.
Far from egocentric, Crump welcomed the opinions of others. He discussed the project with Albert Tillinghast, Walter Travis, George Thomas, Hugh Wilson, and Henry and William Fownes. And he valued their suggestions. On a more concrete basis, he actually sat down and worked for a period of some days with Harry S. Colt. Understandably, the question persists as to what extent Pine Valley is also a reflection of the great English designer’s input. Among Colt’s many accomplishments are Wentworth’s West Course, the New Course at Sunningdale, Rye, St. George’s Hill, and Royal Portrush.
How it was that Colt even came to meet with George Crump at Pine Valley is uncertain. Did Crump send for him? Or was Colt in the United States and, having heard about this ambitious undertaking in the New Jersey pines, did he express an interest in seeing the land and reviewing the plans with Crump’? In any event, in 1913 Harry Colt visited Pine Valley, carefully explored the terrain, counseled in detail with Crump, and actually sketched 18 holes. The club has his plan, which includes Colt’s handwritten suggestions. There are some similarities between the Colt work and the final layout, but the differences are much more pronounced. However, to Colt’s everlasting credit must be attributed the peerless 5th hole. It not only solved the problem of how to get from the relatively lower ground at the 4th green (next to the clubhouse) up to the ridge of the 6th fairway, crossing the lagoon at the bottom of the valley, but, in the process, produced what is almost certainly the single most terrorizing par-3 in the world. It was Colt who called for this bravura one-shotter, and what a memorial to his memory it is! With a measured distance of 232 yards from the back tee (221 from the regular) and a playing value of not less than 255
In 1913, looking frown the height of Pine Valley’s present 6th fairway, across what would become the 4th hole toward the site for the 2nd green. If ever vision were needed!
Yet even as we concede that this indelible moment belongs to Colt, and that Crump followed several other recommendations made by the Englishman, and that there is both a look and a feel to Pine Valley that calls to mind Sunningdale and St. George’s Hill, the evidence still points to the final design of the course as Crump’s. That Crump was eager to have his brainchild enhanced by the thinking of others should in no sense detract from the greatness of his own achievement. Tom Doak, brilliant author of The Anatomy of a Golf Course, calls Crump “the least prolific and most accomplished golf architect of all time.”
In order to build the golf course, George Crump became a near-recluse. He put up a makeshift shelter—some say it was little more than a tent—near where the clubhouse would be built. This was succeeded by a spartan bungalow on the banks of the pond below the 5th tee. His commitment to the construction of the course was un-swerving and total. He personally directed the grand undertaking day in and day out.
Crump lived alone in the wilderness during the five years of his life he devoted to Pine Valley.
The initial preparation of the land was a colossal task. Marshes had to be drained, dams built, underbrush cleared, and trees felled. And after the trees were cut down, the stumps had to be uprooted—more than 22,000 of them. At first Crump tried dynamite. That did little other than explode sand all over the workers. So a new way had to be found, one which, while it may not have advanced the state of the art significantly, got the job done: a steel cable attached to a wood-burning steam winch did the heavy tugging, and a team of horses did the rest.
Considerable progress in clearing the land was made during 1913. As the year ended Crump arranged for an assistant to join him on the site. The assistant would stay for 30 years. His name was James Govan, and he was a man whose skills—greenkeeper, golf teacher, club maker—Crump had come to know at St. Davids Golf Club over the preceding 10 or 12 years.
James Govan was persuaded by Crump to leave St. Davids and join him in creating Pine Valley.
James Govern was born and reared in St. Andrews, where he apprenticed in the Forgan Brothers club-making establishment. Struck by a photograph in 1899 of the magnificent City Hall being constructed in Philadelphia—it is generally believed to be the largest French Renaissance chateau outside of the Loire Valley—Govan, then in his early 20s, decided to go to America to see this remarkable structure and perhaps also see what career opportunities might await there. Whether he actually spent any time working as a craftsman on the monumental building is not clear, but by the first or second year of the new century he was back in golf harness, at St. Davids.
In December, 1913, James Govan accepted Crump’s proposal to become fore-man of the course construction and, then, the club’s first greenkeeper and golf professional. A letter from Crump to Govan, dated December 15, 1913, makes clear that Crump was quite eager to have Scot on board: “Was pleased to get your note and to know you were to come with us March 1st 1914. I will not mention the matter to anyone at present except Dr. Carr, who is very anxious to know you decided to come. Would like it if you would come down this Thursday on the 1 pm train. There are some things about the course I wish to talk to you about. Bring my old club with you.”
James and Margaret Govan and their three-year-old son, George, moved into a cottage beside the second fairway in early 1914. They had no electricity. Crump was the only other person living on the property, and for companionship he relied on his hunting dogs.
The two men worked together closely and harmoniously, each respectful of the other’s intelligence and dedication. The sandy soil enabled them to shape the greens and bunkers boldly (Govan’s upbringing at St. Andrews would have been extremely helpful in this connection), using large, horse-drawn scoops as well as many smaller, hand-operated ones. To prevent erosion, wild grasses and shrubs were planted. The greens were seeded with a South German bent, the fairways with a mixture of bluegrass and New Zealand fescue.
In 1914 the first eleven holes to be built (one through 10, plus the 18th) opened for play. Three more holes—11, 16, and 17—were completed the following year. To get in a round of 18 holes, the golfers of the time played the existing 14 holes, then replayed the first four, which, conveniently, brought them right back to the clubhouse. The guest green fee was raised in 1915 to $2 in order to discourage the non-member play brought on by the course’s growing reputation.
Long before it was actually completed, in 1918, Pine Valley was the subject of analysis and speculation—and declaration—in newspapers and magazines, in locker rooms and club rooms and pro shops. No other course had been so eagerly anticipated. From the outset, it was judged “great,” “one of the greatest,” indeed, by more than a few qualified observers, quite simply “the greatest.” And it was often so acclaimed long before it was finished. From a letter addressed to George Crump by Charles Knapp on November 24, 1914: “It may be a matter of interest to you to know that on leaving Pine Valley Sunday last, Mr. Donald J. Ross turned to me and said, ’This is the finest golf course in America.’” In the New York Evening Sun, January 23, 1915, Charles Blair Macdonald was quoted: “Judging from what I have seen of Pine Valley in its early stages and from the designs as I understand them, it will be the greatest course in America and will rank with the best abroad.” William C. Fownes, who assisted his father in creating Oakmont, was asked by a Pittsburgh newspaper reporter early in 1921 to name the half-dozen best golf holes in America, ranging from a mashie pitch to a three-shatter. He replied that they could all be found on one co
The champions were as enthusiastic as the designers. In 1915, two years after his victory over Vardon and Ray at Brookline, Francis Ouimet said that the course would unquestionably be one of the finest in the country when completed. In 1916, Jerry Travers, who had won the U.S. Open the previous year, said, “I consider it absolutely the best test of golf that I have ever seen, and I’ve played on the best of them in Great Britain and America.” Chick Evans, reigning U.S. Open and Amateur champion when he visited Pine Valley in 1916 immediately after his victory in the Amateur at Merion, described it as “the greatest golf course in the world.” Jim Barnes, who would win the U.S. Open in 1921 and the British Open in 1925, said in 1917, “I have played over or seen the best courses in this country and abroad, and there is no comparison between the New Jersey course and any one of them.” In 1921 Walter Hagen, following a round at Pine Valley with the Australian trick-shot artist Joe Kirkwood, declared it to be “the best laid out course in the country.” Said Kirkwood, “Pine Valley has opened my eyes to what you have in America. I certainly hope I can play here again.”
And, as one might expect, Tillinghast, both accomplished golfer and golf architect, trumpeted the greatness of Pine Valley from any forum at his disposal. In the Philadelphia Record, November 16, 1913, he wrote: “A deep-rooted conviction is responsible for this very broad assertion: I believe that the greatest golf course on the continent is being built at Pine Valley.” A month later, in the American Cricketer, he reviewed both the practical and the aesthetic in his resounding endorsement of the project:
One year ago… little other than a wilderness. Today it is completely transformed—the magic has been wrought… One of the most impressive features is that very vital one, the water supply. An artesian well was sunk 230 feet, and a wonderfully complete pumping system carries water through two and one-half inch pipes to every part of the course. Fairways as well as putting greens may be sprinkled, and the supply is inexhaustible. No detail has been overlooked and, in my humble opinion, Pine Valley is destined to develop into the best-equipped and finest golf course on the continent… . In a walk over the course the critical observer is profoundly impressed with the beautiful rugged-ness of it all. It closely resembles the sea-side courses of Great Britain. Not the slightest suggestion of skimping or crowding; everything on a noble, inspiring scale. When the ridge along the sixth hole is reached the panorama is so magnificent that it grips and “holds hard like a spell.” I defy any bred-in-the-bone golfer to stand on that ridge, gazing over that marvelous sweep of country, without feeling a glow of great satisfaction stealing over him, and he must say in his heart, “It is good to be here.”
Certainly the course’s difficulty—its implacable resistance to scoring—helped earn it the respect of these early observers. In 1915 Francis Ouimet teamed with J. H. Sullivan, Jr., also a very fine player, in a better ball match against George Crump and Cameron Buxton (1916 and 1917Philadelphia amateur champion). The Crump/Buxton 80 was enough to edge the better ball of 81 returned by Ouimet and Sullivan. In 1918, Jerry Travers, playing a Red Cross benefit match at Pine Valley, could do no better than 80. Bobby Jones would have been delighted with that score—he shot even bogeys, 88, the first time around.
Still, it is probable that it was the unique concept of the course, more than any other single factor, that so impressed the cognoscenti. The inspiriting principle of the design is simplicity itself: the island. The tee is an island. The fairway, some 52 or 53 yards wide in the tee-shot landing area, is also an island (or two). So is the green. Each of these isolated plots is virtually surrounded by sand, scrub, dense woods, sometimes water, sometimes severe slopes, a vast no-man’s land of, as it were, unplayable lies. The player is required to tack from one island to the next. And woe betide the man who, on this tension-ridden itinerary of island hopping, fails to put in consistently at a safe harbor. The penalty ranges from double bogey to incalculable. And, it must be added, even when he reaches the relative security of the putting surface, he is not free to exhale. For here awaits the final island: the island cup. Should he, on a day when the surfaces are skate-y, gain the green but place his approach in the wrong sector of it—on some cunning little table in the right rear, for instance, when the hole itself is just beyond a wrinkle in the left front—why, then, all the imagination and finesse and wizardy of the legen
The sum total of this sternest examination in target golf is a series of sublimely arresting holes consisting, it must sometimes seem, of nothing but “death or glory” shots. And the sense of accomplishment precipitated by a successful shot or a well-played hole or, miracle of miracles, an excellent round is perhaps greater at Pine Valley than at any other course.
George Crump did not live to play the full eighteen. The 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th were still to be built when, on January 24, 1918, he died suddenly. He was only 46 years old.
The 14th hole — stark and hostile — during construction in 1917.
Later in 1918 the club asked Hugh Wilson and his brother Alan to come down and direct the construction of the remaining four holes. They spent several months at the site, consulting frequently with Father Carr, who had made detailed notes on Crump’s intentions for each of the 18 holes and who served at this critical time as a sort of “keeper of the flame.” Working from the Crump designs, the Wilsons completed the course by the end of the year, doubtless effecting certain telling refinements in the process. Warner Shelly writes about how Crump’s original plans for holes 12-15 came to be changed—by Crump:
Crump’s revision of all four revolved about a better plan for the second shot on No. 13. Originally that hole was planned for a two-shatter straight out from the tee. One day Crump was on the top of the hill where one always hopes his drive on the 13th will stop. He looked off to his left and saw the redden-like peninsula formation of what is now the 13th green. Calling for a wooden club he hit innumerable balls toward that spot and finished with the remark, “There’s where the 13th green will be.” Thus was born one of the world’s greatest two-shot holes.
Working back from that point, the 13th tee was placed so that the top of the hill could be reached by a good drive. Then the 12th hole had to be redesigned to a short dog-leg (drive and pitch-and-run) ending near the 13th tee. The 14th went from a two-shotter, as originally planned, ending south of the lake, to what is today the famous iron shot downhill over the water to the island. And the 15th tee was also placed on that island for the three-shatter straight uphill, rather than a “bite as much as you wanted” drive over the lake from the south.
The 14th hole today, exacting but also strikingly beautiful.
That one inspiration for the second shot on the 13th not only created a great two-shot hole, it also gave Pine Valley three more great golf holes, two requiring water carries …
Merion East and Pine Valley—two masterpieces. Any discussion of golf in the Philadelphia area inevitably includes them, indeed, often links them. Each is wholly original, each in its own way sublime—the beautiful ferocity of the one in striking juxtaposition to the exquisite challenge of the other.
Hugh Wilson and George Crump—two of that rarest breed, the truly gifted “amateur golf architect.” Each was a man of vision and diligence and artistry. Each was a perfectionist. Each loved the game with a passion. And both were gone from the scene in the very prime of their lives, but not before leaving two permanent—and glorious—legacies. And how providential—how marvelously appropriate—that Hugh Wilson lived long enough to help bring George Crump’s dream to completion.
The 18th hole is the summation of all that has gone before it: sand, scrub, trees, water, elevation changes, super’ shot values, drawn, grandeur.
The Short Course
On May 2,1992, some seven months after the unveiling of the new nine at Philadelphia Country Club, Tom Fazio was front and center here once again. This time he collaborated with Ernie Ransome, Pine Valley Golf Club’s chairman. What had the two been up to? An undertaking which, for sheer bravado, may have been unparalleled: fashioning additional golf holes next door to the eighteen that is the consensus best in the world.
Still, so unusual was the concept behind this Pine Valley project that it eliminated any possibility of invidious comparisons. First of all, their holes, the ten of them, are one- shotters. And secondly, eight of the ten are skillful simulations of the shot to the green on holes of the principal course (2, 3,10,13,14,15,16,17). The other two holes—4 and 9 on The Short Course—are themselves originals.
A couple of holes on The Short Course are almost literal copies. This is certainly true of the 1st, which simulates the fabled short par-3 10th, even to the point of being within a foot of the original in elevation change. Generally, however, the holes are evocative of their inspirations, and, in Fazio’s words, “capture that Pine Valley experience,” without being carbon copies.
The teaming of Ransome and Fazio, who has long been a Pine Valley member, was a happy one, for they were of the same mind from the outset. Declares Ransome, “I always said I would never build a second golf course at Pine Valley to compete with the original. But I did get the idea of doing this, and thought it would be nice to duplicate some of the original holes. Tom took it from there and did a wonderful job.”
The 10th—and last—hole on the Short Course, a striking evocation of the 2nd on the main course.
Fazio adds, “I always loved the second shot on the 2nd hole. Every time I played that thing I had this desire to stand there with a bag of balls and hit about ten shots at the pin from the fairway. I mean, how else can you practice that shot? So we arrived at the idea of being able to pick certain shots from various areas on the course, drop some balls, and practice them.”
As it turns out, it is the stomach-churning second shot on the 2nd hole of the main course that is the progenitor of the final hole on The Short Course. And an altogether wonderful achievement it is—that expanse of sand and rough ground at the foot of the hill, then the near vertical climb to the plateau where the huge and undulating green awaits. The principal differences between the original and the new are six feet in the elevation change (the original 2nd climbs 48 feet from fairway to green; The Short Course 10th climbs 42 feet) and a relatively more placid putting surface on the new green, which does not seriously attempt to mimic the boldest convolutions of the original.
The Short Course can play as long as 2,006 yards, as short as 1,216 yards, and anywhere in between that happens to catch the fancy of the golfer. In addition to its utility as perhaps the most genuinely testing— and satisfying—practice area in golf, The Short Course also functions as a relief course. Since the main course is covered most days from dawn till dusk with players from all over the world, the beautiful Ransome/Fazio creation can accommodate the overflow.