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Re: Walter Travis and his Impact on H.H. Barker and Donald Ross
« Reply #275 on: November 15, 2023, 01:46:41 PM »
Since someone asked for it earlier in the thread, here's a list of Barker's work.  If anyone has any additions or corrections, please let me know.

1907 -

Garden City GC (Garden City, NY) - renovated the course with Travis, work continued a few years

1909 -

Columbia CC (Chevy Chase, MD) - with others
Arcola CC (Paramus, NJ)
Atlantic City CC (Atlantic City, NJ) - improvement
Rumson CC (Rumson, NJ)
Mayfield CC (Cleveland, OH)
Waverley CC (Portland, OR) - new layout
Bedford Springs GC (Bedford, PA) - new layout
Philmont CC (Huntingdon Valley, PA) - added 9 holes
Springhaven CC (Wallingford, PA) - rebunkering
Williamsport CC (Williamsport, PA)
Newport CC (Newport, RI) - improvement
CC of Virginia (Richmond, VA) - also visited in 1913 to discuss changes
Spokane CC (Spokane, WA)

I've finally had some time to collect my thoughts and here's where I'm struggling to reconcile the historical evidence.  Consider these two quotes;

"In the past few years I have laid out upwards of 20 courses in this country..." - Herbert Barker - June 10th, 1910 letter to Joseph Connell after viewing the property the Merion Cricket Club was considering purchasing.  A proposed routing was attached.

"They were very much pleased at the prospects and recommended to consult H. H. Barker,...who has revised more golf courses in this country and brought them up to date, then all the other professionals put together." - Brooklyn Times Union - November 30, 1910 referring to a June visit of C.B. Macdonald and H.J. Whigham to view the same Merion property.   For the record, both Macdonald and Walter J. Travis were members of Garden City Golf Club where Barker was the professional.

As this thread has noted, Barker was brought here, likely by Walter Travis in the fall of 1907 and seemingly spent most of 1907/1908 in the pursuit of changes to toughen Garden City for the U.S. Amateur in September 1908, while also periodically playing in competitions.   One 1908 report noted that he hadn't had the opportunity yet to see other American courses but hoped to get to Nassau before too long.

As Sven noted in the quote above, it seems that Barker's design efforts moved apace beginning in 1909, but looking at each course effort individually by mid-1910 it's difficult to determine on what basis  such grandiose claims in the quotes above were justified, even if salesmanship.   In fact, given much of this was reported in "American Golfer" it's very likely that the source of much of it came from Walter J. Travis.

Columbia CC (Chevy Chase, MD) - with others - Columbia purchased their site in the fall of 1909 and the course opened in 1911.  Some reports mentioned the involvement of Donald Ross and the Harban brothers in the design, and Travis was reported as having "approved" the results.   In 1914, however, Travis wrote Harban that the course could use significant improvements and was invited to submit a plan, which was implemented over the next several years, leading to a US Open in 1921.

Arcola CC (Paramus, NJ) - The land was acquired in June 1909 and by December it was reported that the course would be laid out by H. H. Barker working under the "supervision of Walter J. Travis".   The "Brooklyn Times Union" reported that "The work was begun under the advice of Walter J. Travis who highly recommended H. H. Barker...who the committee secured to lay out the course.   Barker now enjoys the reputation as being the best man in the country at laying out courses.   It did not take Barker long to stake off a course.   Poles are still to be seen that indicate the positions of the tees and greens." The course opened in late 1911.

Atlantic City CC (Atlantic City, NJ) - improvement - An April 1910 report stated that Barker implemented Travis' suggested changes and improvements and that it was Travis who suggested that Barker be hired to do the work that took place late 1909/early 1910.

Rumson CC (Rumson, NJ) - Land acquired in late 1908 with multiple conflicting reports crediting first pro Willie Norton, then Walter Travis with J. Prentice Kellogg.   The course opened on July 1, 1910 with the New York Times reporting that the course was "...laid out after plans designed by Walter J. Travis".   A Newark Star-Eagle report from April 1910 stated that "H. H. Barker staked off the course last fall for 6,150 yards but since then the committee have lengthened some of the holes...".   

More to come...
« Last Edit: November 15, 2023, 01:54:22 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


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Re: Walter Travis and his Impact on H.H. Barker and Donald Ross
« Reply #276 on: November 17, 2023, 07:09:05 AM »
Columbia CC -

I'm not going to delve into this one too much as the history of Columbia has been covered in great detail around here.  The early press reports from Aug. 1909 on note (a) a Barker layout or (b) a Barker and Ross layout with Travis involved later on.

By the sounds of the article below, it doesn't appear that Travis had seen the land prior to the layout being completed.

Oct. 26, 1909 Washington Times -


In trying to summarize the Columbia origins I just noticed that the two day visit by Walter Travis coincides with the club purchasing the property in the fall of 1909 after he spent two days "going over the course" and "was enthusiastic as to its possibilities".

The course didn't open until 1911.   It again sounds to me as though Travis had either "supervision" or "approval" responsibilities.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


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Re: Walter Travis and his Impact on H.H. Barker and Donald Ross
« Reply #277 on: November 17, 2023, 07:48:59 AM »

Mayfield CC (Cleveland, OH) - "Walter Travis advised that Herbert brought on to lay out the course.  He did and Bertie Way was in charge of construction.   He made a few changes and by July, 1911 the course was ready", according to a May 28, 1926 account in the "Cleveland Plains Dealer".   It is not known when Travis was consulted but it was likely sometime in 1909.

Waverly CC (Portland OR) - Sometime likely early in 1909 Walter Travis advised the club via letter concerning "the efficiency of Mr. Barker".  Barker reportedly proposed plans (estimated at a cost of $40K) for "improvements" to the existing links.   I've been unable to verify if Barker's proposed recommendations were ever implemented.   In any case, it seems from news reporting that his trip(s?) to the northwest for both Waverly and Spokane were the result of a written letter of recommendation from Walter Travis to the respective clubs.   According to the club's wiki, between May 1912 and 1924, H. Chandler Egan assisted members in establishing the current course routing, completed comprehensive bunkering and constructed numerous green complexes and guided all subsequent course improvements until his death in 1936.

Bedford Springs GC (Bedford, PA) - new layout - News accounts indicate that a nine-hole course existed as early as 1895 designed by Spencer Oldham and the evidence indicates that Barker likely added nine holes in 1909, opening in 1912.   A topographical sketch map of the "6,000 yards" 18 hole course is on the club's website and is likely the course Barker "laid out".   However, perhaps due to the steepness of the wooded terrain, Tillinghast was asked to reduce the course to nine holes which it was by 1915.   In the 1920's, Donald Ross expanded the course again to 18 holes, abandoning the steeper areas used in the original 18 hole effort and extended the course further along the lower river valley.   No evidence of involvement by Walter Travis has yet been discovered.

Philmont CC[ (Huntingdon Valley, PA) - added 9 holes - New accounts indicate that the second nine holes were designed by local professional John Reid and landscape architect Ogelsby Paul, not Barker.   In July of 1909, Walter Travis spent the weekend at Philmont staying with his friend  and club President Ellis Gimbel.   It seems likely that Travis with Barker proposed a new bunkering scheme but evidence indicates this was slow-going, if implemented at all.   In 1914, Hugh Wilson worked with Henry Strouse to create a few new holes and implement bunkering changes which were described as extensive.

More to come...  (did I mention that the formatting features here drive me a bit nuts?)
« Last Edit: November 17, 2023, 01:18:15 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


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Re: Walter Travis and his Impact on H.H. Barker and Donald Ross
« Reply #278 on: November 17, 2023, 12:33:43 PM »

Springhaven CC (Wallingford, PA) - rebunkering - The Springhaven history book written by Bob Labbance states that Barker was contracted to "modernize the layout and install many more bunkers".   Walter Travis wrote in the January 1910 "American Golfer" magazine, "The green committee at Springhaven is very active at present and while no radical changes are contemplated, the committee is determined to improve the course as much as possible during the winter and spring.   They have consulted with H.H. Barker...who staked out fifty pits which will be placed as rapidly as possible as the weather will permit.   Most of the new hazards guard the approaches to the greens - for instance, at the left of the sixth and the right of the sixteenth."  Subsequent rebunkering and significant revisions took place over the next fifteen years at the hands of Alex Findlay and later, William Flynn.

Williamsport CC (Williamsport, PA) - According to the club website, On April 11, 1910, H.H. Barker...was paid a sum of $74.50 to lay out the original nine holes.   These holes consisted of what are our #1 and #2, as well as #12 through #18." (note, the cool original punchbowl green on 13 was abandoned in the early 1950s and others may have been changed by Tillinghast when he added nine holes in the 20s)  The course was opened in the summer of 1911.   A 1930 syndicated article bylined from New York City about architect Maurice McCarthy doing work at Williamsport indicated the the course "was laid out 19 years ago by the late Walter J. Travis".  There is also the question of how Travis knew/reported in the September 1909 "American Golfer" that Barker had done work at Williamsport when the land was yet to be purchased and Barker wasn't hired until 8 months later! 

Newport CC (Newport, RI) - improvement - According to the club history book, Barker was brought in to consult on what to do with holes that had been laid out (in an effort to add a new nine to make 18 by Willie Davis) east of the clubhouse that were constantly wet.   The area looks to be wetlands today.   That second nine had been previously abandoned, but apparently on the advice of Barker (and some others including Peter Lees) were reopened sometime around 1910, only to be later abandoned on subsequent revisions of the course.   A topographical map of that 18 hole course, undated but hanging inside the clubhouse today, is presented below.   I've oriented it in a much more north/south direction so the wet holes east of the clubhouse are visible.

To be continued...
« Last Edit: November 17, 2023, 12:55:24 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


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Re: Walter Travis and his Impact on H.H. Barker and Donald Ross
« Reply #279 on: November 17, 2023, 02:01:03 PM »

CC of Virginia (Richmond, VA) - also visited in 1913 to discuss changes - Opened in June of 1910, this is the only course on the listing where the work was completed by the time of Barker's letter to Merion that same month.   No record of involvement by Walter Travis has been uncovered.  Donald Ross significantly revised the course, now known as Richmond Country Club, in 1920.

Spokane CC (Spokane, WA) - One of two northwest courses that Barker was referred to by Travis, this planned course was never built and ultimately the club selected a different site.

And finally, even after Barker left Garden City for Rumson in March 1911...

Youngstown Country Club (Youngstown, OH) - Not listed in the September 1909 "American Golfer" credits, just over a year later in October 1911 that same publication published a detailed account of the property and the club's efforts to secure it, the account continued "Barker's services were secured in laying out the eighteen hole links, which in interest compare favorably with almost any in the state.    The land is generally rolling and a meandering water-course adds much in the way of natural hazards.   The sand pits and putting greens are now practically completed and there has already been considerable play over the links."  However, when the course officially opened in June of 1912, the Youngstown Newspaper "The Sunday Vindicator" published a full-page story about the club and course that included the following; "F. D. Wilkerson is the chairman of the grounds committee, and how well his work has been done may be judged when one knows that experts have pronounced the new golf course as near perfect as any course can be made.  Walter Travis of Garden City, Long Island, laid it out, and the construction was done under the supervision of a man sent here by him especially for that purpose."  To this day, the club credits Walter Travis as the architect of the course.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge


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