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Will Lozier

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Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« on: August 19, 2022, 11:57:41 AM »
So now that the remaining buildings of this famous Resort (those that weren't demolished a few years ago) have burnt down, this Tilly/Finger design once part of and now adjacent to the resort remains.

Is it a quality layout? Any interesting history that we know about? It would seem that it should be a course of some significance...?


Mike Worth

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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2022, 12:16:28 PM »
Reading through the GCA archives, the course seems quite banal.  The Tillinghast pedigree doesn’t seem to help.

I grew up in the Catskills, although the northern Catskills not the Sullivan County Catskills.  I would bet $100 the fire was arson.  That’s what normally happens to abandoned hotels in that part of the country. 

Also wouldn’t be surprised to see some developer purchase the property.

Economic development (not necessarily golf-related) in the Hudson Valley/Catskills remains strong – – there are still people fleeing Brooklyn lol
« Last Edit: August 19, 2022, 12:33:29 PM by Mike Worth »

John Blain

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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2022, 12:34:47 PM »
The golf course was commonly referred to as "the big G". It had a very good reputation and was known as a championship course. It hosted a number of NYS Opens and the NYS Amateur many years ago. I played in a US AM qualifier there in 1999 and though I can't recall any particular details I remember liking the course.

Stewart Abramson

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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2022, 04:39:46 PM »
It didn't seem like there was any Tillinghast DNA in the Big G. It felt a lot more like the nearby Concord (Finger) or Kutshers (Wm F Mitchell). I'm surprised there was anything left on the premises that could burn down. When I was last there in 2013,  all of the main resort buildings had been totally trashed and were dilapidated, with broken or boarded up windows, covered in graffiti, no doors, caved in roofs etc. Walking into the small clubhouse (the only habitable structure at the time, and just barely that) I felt like I had stepped into 1975. The resort closed in the 1980's and the Big G course closed in 2017. The clubhouse was razed shortly thereafter.

Here's a link to photos of the course from 2013.

Here's a link to photos of the resort from about the same time frame

During the heyday of the borscht belt, the Big G played second fiddle in the Catskills to the Concord Monster. Speaking of the Concord, (which was razed and replaced by two new hotels several years ago), Rees Jones built a new course over a routing that was 9 holes from the Concord Monster and 9 holes from the Concord International. The new course looked ready for play more than a year ago, but still has not opened. Does anyone have any idea when, if ever, they plan to open it?


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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2022, 05:30:17 PM »
I played both the Big G and Little G.  Big G was redone by Joseph Finger and felt nothing like a Tilly course.  The Little G was not redone by Finger and had a much older 20s course vibe.

Sadly, both courses have been closed for several years.

Phil Young

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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2022, 01:35:42 AM »
This is a brief history of the work that Tilly and Joe Finger did at Grossingers. More research, especially about Finger’s involvement, is needed.:
      The story of Grossinger’s Hotel began when Asher Selig Grossinger moved from New York City to Ferndale in Sullivan County in the Catskill Mountains in the 1900s. There he rented rooms to visitors from New York City. His wife, Malka, operated the kosher kitchen, and his daughter Jennie was the hostess. They called their home the Longbrook House. In 1919, they sold it and purchased a bigger house on 100 acres and called it Grossinger’s Terrace Hill House. Eventually Jennie took it over from her parents and managed it until her death in 1972 at the age of 80.
      The story of its golf course and Tilly’s involvement in its creation is both fascinating and filled with a great deal of misinformation. In fact, with the closing of Grossinger’s in 1986, any and all documents and official records that they might have had were lost to whatever garbage dump or landfill they found their way into. To date, there is but a single contemporaneous newspaper article that can be found that mentions Tilly’s involvement there. On Saturday, August 12th, 1933, the New York Sun announced, “Grossinger Golf Course To Be Dedicated Friday.”
      The article that followed stated, “Plans have been made for an interesting golf event in Sullivan County when an eighteen-hole golf course is dedicated at the Grossinger Country Club, Ferndale, N. Y., next Friday…
      “This event is to be for the benefit of Maimonides Hospital in Liberty, N. Y. The Grossinger course, of 6,105 yards, with a par of 70, was designed by A. W. Tillinghast. Alex Milne Jr., who holds the course record of 66, is the home pro and will act as host to the visiting professionals.”
      That’s it. There’s nothing more to tell of Tilly’s work. In fact the only other mention of golf at Grossinger’s prior to this is found in two issues, the 1929 & 1930/31, of the American Annual Golf Guide. The 1929 issue states that the 9-hole, 3,000 yard, par 33 “Grossinger Golf Course” was “Estd. in 1915.” The only problem with that is that the 1915 date was referring to the founding of Grossinger’s hotel and not the golf course. To complicate matters further, the next issue covering the year’s 1930-31, has the course being “Estd. in 1929” and the nine holes were 2,600 yards in length.
      There is one way to explain all of these discrepancies, for there was a very important eyewitness to all of these events. One who wrote about the creation of the golf course, and more fascinatingly, why it was built. The witness was Jennie Grossinger. In the book, “Jennie and the Story of Grossinger’s,” author Joel Pomerantz listened to Jennie and wrote down her own words in detailing her fascinating life.
      Beginning in the first paragraph on page 169, it recounts that, “Grossinger’s had now reached the stage in its development when certain facilities began to loom as absolute necessities. A man named Michael Chernow and an unknown girl were to become the godparents of the first eighteen-hole golf course ever laid out in the Catskills resort.
      “Chernow checked into the hotel one afternoon complete with a rifle and a set of golf clubs. Soon he and Milton Balckstone were discussing college sports in general and hunting and golf in particular. Like Milton, he had been an athlete at college, but now that he was out in the business world, he found the only sports that were practical were those in which he could indulge alone.
      “‘Even if I can’t find a foursome or even another player,’ he said, ‘I can always enjoy a round of golf.’
      “‘Our guests are welcome at a country club in Liberty, you know,’ Milton countered.
      “Chernow nodded, ‘I know. But it’s still a nuisance to get there and you always feel like an outsider. You should have a course here at Grossinger’s.’
      “A day or so later, Jennie returned from a trip to New York with upsetting news. She had seen a former guest on the train. The girl had a golf bag tied to her luggage and left the train at Fallsburgh–the station before Ferndale. Jennie watched from the train as she climbed into a station wagon owned by the Flagler Hotel which had a nine-hole golf course.
      “‘That nice girl has been coming here for eight years,’ Jennie said unhappily. ‘How many more will leave us because we have no golf course?’
      “‘So, let’s build one,’ Milton said.
      “The inevitable family council was called. Although Selig and Malke were a bit puzzled over people who wanted to walk around the country hitting a little white ball, they agreed if Harry and Jennie really wanted, they should have it. The problem of additional land was easily solved.
Because the adjacent Lakeside Hotel was not doing well, the owners were glad to sell some of their property to Selig. Selig ordered heavy machinery from Pennsylvania and he and Harry began to clear the site. With the help of a local golf pro, who said he was also an amateur golf course architect, the beginnings of a fairway were laid out.
      “As the work progressed, it became apparent to Milton and Harry that this was not shaping up like any course they had ever seen. Before they could make a formal protest, the self-styled ‘architect’ mysteriously departed.
      “Milton decided to write to the United States Golf Association to ask it to recommend a man who could build a golf course. Within days, a short, sturdy man named Andy Salerno appeared. He announced he could certainly build a golf course, but he could not design one. This was a job for a specially trained professional. He added there were no more than a dozen really good golf architects in the world.
      “‘Who is the best?’ Jennie asked.
      “‘A. W. Tillinghast,’ Andy said. He designed Fresh Meadows, Winged Foot, the Beautiful Baltusrol course and a number of others.’
      “‘See if you can get him for us, Milton,’ Jennie urged.
      “Not many golf courses were being built in 1930. Even the construction of a miniature layout would have taxed the financial resources of most hotels. Demands for the specialized talents of Mr. Tillinghast were at an absolute minimum. The architect wasted no time getting to the Catskills, surveyed the complete nine-hole layout with a pained expression, and then quickly toured the rest of the property.
      “By a happy coincidence, the terrain was perfect for the construction of a course. Mr. Tillinghast tested the soil–it would grow the kind of seed that would produce crisp fairways and velvety greens–and went to his drawing board. It wasn’t long before Andy Salerno’s men were exploding dynamite charges, building sand traps and finding wells to irrigate what would be thirsty fairways. Within a few weeks, the outline of a links began to appear.
      “The eighteen-hole course was opened in 1931. There were those who thought that Selig was just a bit meshugah (crazy) sinking so much money into a golf course in the midst of the Depression. But, as yet, the hotel hadn’t felt its full impact. Providentially, the $10,000 Selig and Harry had the foresight not to invest in the stock market provided the initial capital needed to construct the course. Their wisdom and vision in building the links soon became apparent. Many who had formerly enjoyed expensive European vacations couldn’t afford that luxury now, but they could afford a Catskill holiday.
      “The golf course was, in a very real sense, a milestone in the hotel’s development, for it marked the transition from a successful medium-sized family enterprise into the realm of a luxury hotel. The effect the wondrous new facility had on everyone was overwhelming.
      “An elated Jennie said to Selig as she traipsed around the course: ‘Poppa, I’m so happy, I’m walking on air. Who would ever believe the Grossinger’s from the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] would ever own their own golf course? It’s another miracle!’
      “‘An American miracle,’ the old gentleman added softly.” 
      Tilly would come back again. In his July 20th, 1936 letter to the P.G.A., he wrote:
      “I drove ninety-two miles to Ferndale and the Grossinger golf course this morning to make an examination and report at the request of P.G.A. member John S. (Scotty) Thyne, who has been located there for the past two years.
      “Accompanied by Thyne and the greenkeeper, Arthur Laver, together with the owners of the place, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Grossinger, I made a complete examination of the various eighteen holes as well as the soil and turf conditions of the greens. Mrs. Jennie Grossinger takes a keen interest in all matters pertaining to golf and the Grossinger course, and it is because of this that they have recently acquired additional adjoining acreage for the purpose of extending the lengths. This was needed as the originally layout was badly cramped.
      “I went over the new property with them and definitely located on it a new Fifteenth and Sixteenth holes, each of fine length and over good terrain. I also located a new Fourteenth and made a rearrangement of the present Sixteenth and Seventeenth (both very indifferent holes because of squeezing) to provide a new seventeenth. I also located a new Sixth green and Seventh Teeing Ground.
      “I did not approve of an idea to move the Eighth green to make more beach room on the lake shore and they finally saw it my way.
      “Regarding the putting green turf; The appearance of clover in the Seaside Bent alarmed them but it is rather scanty and nothing to fear. Undoubtedly it will yield to treatment and to this end I gave greenkeeper Laver instructions. I consider this a day well spent and much good should result. At any rate they all were highly appreciative.
      “These changes would be made.” 
      In the years following WW II, just as happened at numerous other clubs, both public and private, changes, both major and minor, were made. This can be seen in an article from the Kingston Daily Freeman dated August 22nd, 1960. It states: “It was back in 1926 that Jennie and Harry Grossinger designated architect A. W. Tillinghast to design and build a championship course. Over the years the course has been lengthened and improved. It now plays over 6,354 yards with a par of 72.”
      From Nellie Grossinger’s biography we learn three important things. First, that there was no finished golf course built before Tilly was hired. Second, that the course that Tilly built was 18 holes in length. Three, that she handed the business over to her children in 1964, before Joe Finger was hired. That is an especially important point, because it appears that Finger did more than redesign Tilly’s course, he designed completely new holes, some 27 in total.
      In proof of this, the August 22nd, 1960 Kingston Daily Record, in reporting on the upcoming “Ladies PGA Tourney” that was to begin 2 days later, stated: “Over the years the course has  been lengthened and improved. It now plays 6,354 yards with a par of 72. That this refers to the Tillinghast course and that it is the only course at Grossinger’s at that time, can be shown in an article published 10 years later in the Camden Courier-Post on June 2nd. It states: “‘One of these years real soon we hope to play host to the National Open here.’ The speaker was Paul Grossinger, genial host to some 40 golf writers from all sections of the East. We’re betting on Paul getting his wish, because the beautiful new championship course opened last week…the Big G…certainly rates consideration for a national tournament.
      “Somehow, architect Joseph S. Finger found level spots on the Grossinger acreage and most of the new holes (there are 27 in all) are reminiscent of Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Pine Valley and other nationally famous courses.”
      The article gave a description of the course: “From the championship tees, the new links wind some 6,800 yards through Grossinger country and some of the scenic sites can take your breath away. But the average player does not  have to strain as on so many of today’s monster courses. There are women’s, seniors, and high average amateur tees, and even the pros don’t have to break their backs to reach the greens in regulation figures.
      “As one of those who tested the new course for the first time, we have to agree. Also, we are sold on the championship merits of the links.
      “The fourth hole is one of the most spectacular in the country. From the elevated tee, one gets a beautiful view of Grossinger Lake on the left side of this 512-yard par 5. This is the famous island green nestled just offshore of the beautiful pines and hemlocks lining the lake.
      “The player hitting from the championship tees must hit a tremendous drive to carry a brook, 220 yards from the tee, and a slight hill, 240 yards away, to get in position for a shot at a green almost completely surrounded by water. The reward is great for the long, accurate hitter. For those who miss, its good-bye ball and par or birdie. But the average player can play it safe with two wood shots and have an easy iron left to the undulating putting surface.
      “The 2d, 3d, 5th, 7th, 13th and 15th holes all are picture units and worthy of any golf course. And the 18th is truly a championship finishing hole. From the tee, the player obtains a magnificent view of nearly the entire golf course, all of Grossinger Lake and the bright and sparkling farms and houses beyond. It’s an unforgettable sight and a fine note on which to end the round, but the hole can be far from ‘beautiful.’ It’s 433 yards long, with the second shot uphill to a tremendous green. A deep grass trap on the right will play havoc with a slice; traps on the left will catch the hook. The undulations in the green require a delicate touch to challenge even the best golfers.
      “Also, there’s that ‘babbling brook’ that seems to pop up on every hole.”

Greg Hohman

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Re: Grossinger's Resort & Country Club
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2022, 09:51:25 AM »
The Catskills Institute at Northeastern University might have something:


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