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Matt Frey, PGA

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The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« on: June 20, 2017, 02:25:04 PM »
This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to play two rounds at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, while attending a good friendís wedding at the resort.

The Cascades Course is a wonderful William Flynn layout, and it was profiled on this site in the Courses by Country section: http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/cascades/ While Iím sure there are more trees on the property than when the course was built, overall, I was pleased with the courseís width as many of the playing corridors were wider than I had anticipated. The greens are excellent. No. 7 is pictured below.



However, my question is in regards to the resortís Old Course as I am hoping someone has some information on the courseís original architectural history. Their scorecard lists Donald Ross as the architect; my friend Mike Cirba pointed out that Brad Kleinís Ross book says that Ross added 12 holes in 1912 to the original six-hole course. Another of Cirbaís sources said that it was 18 holes however. We have also read that Flynn may have (likely) worked on the course a bit after he built the Cascades Course, as well as Rees Jones much later. My questions are:

  • Who was the original architect? My guess it may have just been the original pro, although Iím not sure who that may have been.
  • Assuming the originals are still in their same locations, which of the six-holes of todayís current routing were originals? I am assuming No. 1 is an original as the resort claims that the first tee is the oldest continuously used first tee in the country.
  • What year did the six-hole course become an 18-hole course? If it was 1901 (rather than 1912), was Ross the architect?
  • When did Flynn make any changes and what were they? Same questions for Jones.
  • Was the original 18th hole where the practice range now sits, going down the hill to the resort? The current 18th is up a massive hill, a good walk from No. 17 green, while the practice range is a mere yards. What year was the range put in?

I enjoyed the Old Course; nothing too fancy, but there are some very good holes out there in my opinion. Plus, itís not too often you can play an 18-hole course with six par-3s, six par-4s and six par-5s!

I appreciate any help in this matter, but completely understand that record keeping may not have been what we hope for. Some select photos from my round on the Old Course are also posted below.

No. 1 green:


No. 6 approach:


No. 10 approach:


No. 12 approach:


No. 13 approach:


The view from No. 14 tee:


No. 17 approach:


The Homstead practice range (site of the Old Course's original 18th hole?)
Matt Frey, PGA
@mfreypga  @mfreypga

MCirba

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2017, 02:41:51 PM »
Nice pics, Matt, and you've framed the questions nicely for the vaunted historians in the group here.

Interestingly, the resort claims that they have the oldest continued use first tee in America (1892), the earliest reference I can find to the course is 1896.   

Also, for those playing along at home the course seems to have been originally known as "Virginia Hot Springs Golf Club."

I'm going to bet it was Alex Findlay but that's just a guess.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Brad Tufts

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2017, 02:56:44 PM »
I think 1901 is too early for Donald Ross, as he had only arrived to Boston 2 years earlier.  I'd be surprised if he designed anything 600 miles from Boston that soon, but I could be wrong.  1912 could fit though...
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Wade Whitehead

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 04:57:33 PM »
I don't have your architectural answers, but it would seem that a property claiming to be "the first" would have some pretty thorough documentation (which I'm not sure they do).

I really enjoy the Old Course.  It's fun golf and the maintenance meld actually presents a pretty good hard par/easy bogey experience.  I was there this spring and my brother hit one a wayward drive across the busy state highway that splits the property.  There were no stakes and no indication of any local rule, so he timed the passing tractor trailers and played away.

As you suspected, I believe the hotel once had a practice area closer to the building, which allowed use of the current range as a closing hole.

WW

MCirba

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 08:02:58 AM »
At this stage I'd really like to see some evidence of the 1892 date, as 1896 is the first mention of golf at Hot Springs I can find.   

I'm also dubious about it being the oldest 1st tee in the country, given places like Foxburg and Dorset Field Club.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Sven Nilsen

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 01:51:03 PM »
To answer some of your questions:

Who was the original architect?  -  Unknown.  The course was built prior to clubs/courses commonly having a designated pro.  Best guess is that it was built by the original members or by an early pro visiting the area or brought down to lay out the course.

Assuming the originals are still in their same locations, which of the six-holes of todayís current routing were originals?  -  If the course did originally have 6 holes (it had 9 by at least 1898 and the 6 hole reports appear to come from non-contemporaneous sources), I haven't seen any records that would allow us to track where they were.

What year did the six-hole course become an 18-hole course? If it was 1901 (rather than 1912), was Ross the architect?  -  As noted above, if the course did have six holes at one point, it became a 9 hole course by at least 1898.  The 9 hole course was extended to 18 holes around 1905.  The Ross work is described as an R9/A9 in 1915 from some sources, but as we know the course already had 18 holes prior to then.

When did Flynn make any changes and what were they? Same questions for Jones.  -  Flynn's work is credited as being in 1925, a few years after Peter Lees is credited with putting the existing 18 hole course in shape.  No idea on Jones, but I'm sure someone around here could track that down.

Here's a quick history of the first course at The Homestead.

Sources note 1892 as the start date, but the first mention I can find of a course comes from the 1896-97 Golfing Annual.



Jan. 1898 Golf Magazine notes a 9 hole 1,729 yard course that was to be extended by 600 yards.



The 1899 Golf Guide has a 9 hole 2,144 yard course.

Feb. 1899 Golf Magazine notes 9 hole 2,184 yard course recently improved. 



Here's the 1900 Harpers listing:



The 1901 Harpers listing is the same as above but has a date of organization of 1896.

The 1902 Official Golf Guide listing:



Oct. 1904 Golf Magazine notes a 9 hole course with plans for an additional 9 with 15 total holes currently in play and the full 18 to be ready next spring. 



Sept. 1905 Golf Magazine notes club has been in existence for around 10 years and originally had a 9 hole course which has was extended to 14 and now has 18 holes of 5,219 yards. 



May 1913 Golf Magazine notes first 6 holes put in place 20 years ago now being over 6,000 yards. 



The 1916 Annual Guide notes an 18 hole course of 6,017 yards with a date of organization of 1892.  Subsequent guides have yardages varying in the low 6,000's and the date of organization changes to 1899.

Dec. 12, 1917 New York Tribune notes an 18 hole 6,264 yard course.

Dec. 1919 Golfers Magazine notes the Homestead had a 9 hole course and an 18 hole 6,242 yard course. 

Nov. 1921 Golf Illustrated notes existing 18 hole course put in shape by Peter Lees. 



Feb. 1932 Golf Illustrated notes this as an 18 hole course.


Some random photos:

1900 Harpers -



Sept. 1905 Golf Magazine -



Oct. 1914 Golf Illustrated -

« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 01:54:30 PM by Sven Nilsen »
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Matthew Sander

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 02:00:23 PM »
At this stage I'd really like to see some evidence of the 1892 date, as 1896 is the first mention of golf at Hot Springs I can find.   

I'm also dubious about it being the oldest 1st tee in the country, given places like Foxburg and Dorset Field Club.


Mike,


This sounds like the kind of rabbit hole this crew hasn't ventured into in quite a while! It brings back memories...

Matt Frey, PGA

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 02:01:33 PM »
Sven: This information is great. Thank you for the great articles as well!
Matt Frey, PGA
@mfreypga  @mfreypga

Sven Nilsen

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 02:17:53 PM »
Add to the list a report from August of 1894 that a golf club was to be formed.


Some time in late 1896 the ads for the hotel started noting golf grounds as one of its attractions.
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

MCirba

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2017, 03:25:05 PM »
Great stuff, Sven.  Thanks!
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Matt Frey, PGA

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 05:29:12 PM »
Mike: Do you have any pieces about Foxburg? I just wonder if perhaps the first hole used to be present-day No. 7 and the ninth present-day No. 6? Just playing devil's advocate.
Matt Frey, PGA
@mfreypga  @mfreypga

Sven Nilsen

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2017, 05:47:52 PM »
Matt:


Here's the Harpers 1900 listing for Clarion County aka Foxburg. 

"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

MCirba

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2017, 05:57:50 PM »
Matt/Sven,

Spoiler alert.

I have quite a bit on Foxburg that I intend to put into an IMO piece soon. 
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 09:17:45 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Sven Nilsen

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2017, 09:54:39 PM »
Mike:


Do I have it right that Foxburg was known as "Clarion County GC" for a bit?


Sven
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Bret Lawrence

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2017, 10:17:18 PM »
There are two articles from the New York Times mentioning a golf course at Hot Springs, VA in the year 1895.


On March 17, 1895 there is an excerpt mentioning S.L. Parrish of Shinnecock is visiting "The Virginia"  The article mentions:"The golf links are in constant use, and Mr. and Mrs. William Kent, George L. McAlpin, S. L. Parrish and Dr. Brandt are most enthusiastic golfers."


On October 20, 1895 a second article from Hot Springs, VA mentions:  "The weather is neither too warm or too cold, but "just right", and greatly enhances the charm of golf, the favorite sport at the Springs."


Neither of these articles mention how many holes were in place, but it does sound like they were playing golf as early as 1895 in Hot Springs, VA.  I have also seen a New York Times article from August 1894 mentioning all the attractions at the Springs.  Golf is mentioned, but as Sven noted earlier it was only to inform the reader that a golf club will soon be formed.


One final article from the New York Times, dated August 27, 1911 mentions : "During the summer alterations have been made to the eighteen hole golf links, by which 1,000 yards have been added to the course and its attractiveness greatly increased.  The improvements include the changing of the original seventeenth and eighteenth holes, which were thought to be too close to each other and the placing in their stead of three new holes back of Sunset Hill.  The course will thus be lengthened from 5,000 yards to 6,000 yards."
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 10:20:27 PM by Bret Lawrence »

MCirba

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Re: The Homestead's Old Course Architectural History
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2017, 04:25:37 AM »
Mike:


Do I have it right that Foxburg was known as "Clarion County GC" for a bit?


Sven


Sven,


That's correct. Thanks.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

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