The Development of Pine Valley

In an earlier installment of these recollections of mine, there was related the story of the "Birth of the Birdie," which took place during one of the regular week-end pilgrimages of a little band of Philadelphia Golfers. The name of one of these pilgrims was mentioned, that of the George A. Crump, one of my dearest old friends and one of the rarest, most lovable men I have ever known. His contribution to golf was so great, that certainly it deserves a chapter alone, a chapter, which I fear may be not entirely adequate.

I have told of our winter habit of taking train from Camden for the hour’s run to Northfield. George Crump invariably was of the party and on several occasions I observed him looking intently from the train window as we passed through a section about twenty miles out. As a matter of fact his attention had been attracted by a freakish bit of country in South Jersey, freakish because it was so totally different from the monotonous flat lands of those parts. At first he said nothing to any one, but quietly, as was his wont in everything he did, he visited the tract and took option on one hundred and eighty acres of gently-hilled, pinecovered, sandy land -- the tract which he had so intently studied from the passing trains.

Then he told a few of us of a plan, which he had in mind. This was in 1912, and at the time the Philadelphia district really possessed no course of true championship requirements. The best golfers of that district bemoaned the fact that their play was over courses that were not sufficiently exacting to develop their strokes to such high standard as to make them serious factors in the national events. George Crump’s dream was to build a course, which would offer a great diversity of play in really exacting form, a course that would have no single hole designed with the limitations of the ordinary players in mind. He contended that each club in Philadelphia had enough class players, who could cope with such a super-course, to insure an ample membership. With his own money he purchased the property and entirely financed the work. But, above all, his own ideals entirely dominated that plan and this truly great course must ever remain, a lasting, glorious monument to his genius. True, he sought opinions from others. I was one of the first to walk the property with him and that George Crump finally incorporated two of my conceptions entirely (the long seventh and the thirteenth) will ever be the source of great satisfaction. He also had opinions on various points from Walter Travis and C.B. Macdonald, also from many others of his friends, who, as amateurs, were capable of offering valuable suggestions because they were numbered among the great players of the country at that time.

In January of 1913, George Crump gave me permission to publish in my syndicated weekly golf column of that period, the first word of the new course. An excerpt from this read: "The Philadelphia section is to have a great golf course -- one which may eclipse all others. Although I have known of the plans for more than a year, only recently have I been relieved from secrecy and the announcement appears in print today for the first time. Mr. Crump’s first thought was to provide winter golf, but I predict that it will attract the cream of players throughout the entire year."

In March, 1913, I published a full description of work already accomplished and described in detail the first four holes, which had been completed entirely to George Crump’s own plan and personally directed building, and also the plan of the first nine holes and the tenth and eighteenth, all of which remained as George determined with the exception of the ninth. In May it was announced that the British golf architect, H.S. Colt, was in Canada and that probably he would visit Pine Valley to collaborate in the final drafting of plans, which he did during the following month, June, and most excellently. So it will be seen, by all this, exactly how Pine Valley was conceived, and how it developed. In some respects the course represents a consensus of opinion, carefully edited by the master mind of George Crump, to whom must be given credit to the fullest measure. Certainly one of the world’s greatest golf courses, it reflects the genius of one man after all and must ever be a tribute to his memory. For George Crump was not destined to live to see his great masterpiece entirely completed. That is the tragedy of it all. Yet, it was a fortunate thing that he did live long enough to hear Pine Valley’s praises from the lips and hearts of the truly great in golf, but I know that the praise from his close friends and boon companions of the links brought him even greater delight.

His sudden death might have been even more unfortunate that his passing, for he left no will to provide for the actual completion of his work or of its passing to a regular organization, an eventuality, which he had always contemplated in absolutely an unselfish way and without the remotest thought of any profit to himself, although the project had rendered the property exceedingly valuable. However, most fortunately for the game of golf, his family, knowing well his unrecorded intentions, made possible the turning over of Pine Valley to the present club, as he would have had it.


MY CRONOLOGY OF PROGRESS REPORTS

April 1913

The new Pine Valley Golf Club at Clementon, New Jersey, which promises to offer the most notable course in the vicinity of Philadelphia, has a force of workmen removing trees and underbrush and gradually the tract is being opened to view. As the work progresses the first favorable impressions become deep rooted convictions, for the land is remarkable indeed. Everything indicates that the fond hopes of the builders will be realized.

Already seven of the holes are opened up and rapidly cleared fairways are being prepared for spring seeding. Several of the greens are ready for preparation.

Thus far the holes which are being prepared present golf of this description. The first, starting away from the clubhouse site is a fine two shotter, but it will take a drive of at least 175 yards to even partially open up the green which lies around a bend. The location of this green is ideal. The second is another two shot proposition, but it will take a fine second to carry an enormous pit which will be placed in the side of a ridge which is approached broad-side. A good long drive will enable one to carry up to the green with a cleek or spoon.

The third in my opinion will be excellent. The teeing ground will be placed on top of the same ridge as is located the second green. The green can be reached by a long straight drive which must carry the "Alpinization" at varying distances of from 185 to 200 yards — depending on the accuracy from the tee. The fairway sides, and the green sides ad flank will be guarded by elaborate variations of the Mid-Surrey mounds and grassed hollows. Two well placed shots will reach the next green, but under no circumstances can either be indifferently or weakly played. The drive is over very rough country and must carry a high ridge. The fifth is the second of the four one-shot holes on the course. A very pronounced depression, over the creek must be carried with a short iron to the green in the hill side beyond. Standing on this teeing ground the view in every direction is one to make the most exacting golfer enthuse. Nothing is lacking (even a variety of heather is growing about), and anyone who has played over the British courses must at once remark the strikingly similarity of the surroundings.

The sixth is a three-shotter, and although one cannot reach home in two, there is much to be gained by a long ball which takes the most difficult and dangerous carry. The next hole is less developed that any of these I have mentioned, but enough has been cleared to show something of its requirements. A long well placed drive must carry an enormous dip through which flows a stream of clear water. The second is a high shot with a mashie if the drive has been well hit, but if it has not the longer shot with a mid iron will prove exceedingly bothersome. The remaining holes are yet to be cleared, but the work will be pushed hard. The home hole will be one to try the soul of man. It is long two shotter — the second over a water hazard, and I can assure you that it calls for a mighty stroke. It makes an unusually fine finish.

All tests of the soil have proven most gratifying; indeed I can think of nothing which is missing at Pine Valley. My firs prediction of the future of the new course is truly a conservative one, as I believe after other visits, which have been treats indeed.

December 1913

Eleven holes of the new Pine Valley have been seeded and are coming on in promising fashion. It is expected that the entire round will be ready for play at this time next year. During the month a number of the leaders of golf in Philadelphia visited the place and were amazed by the progress which had been made.

It is quite possible now to describe Pine Valley as a completed course, for many of the holes are in the embryo. Those which have been played are entirely satisfying. Not long ago the discoverer and developer of Pine Valley, Mr. George A. Crump, accompanied by Mr. Howard W. Perrin, Mr. Richard Mott and Mr. A.W. Tillinghast, played golf there for the first time. To the founder was given the honor of driving the first ball and he selected a faithful old driver as the club in his bag most deserving of the historic first stroke. "Bolivar," as this particular club affectionately is named by Mr. Crump, is huge and powerful, and on this occasion it was at the business end of a long straight ball from Pine Valley’s first teeing ground.

Mr. Perrin, firm in his conviction that the new course will prove to be one of the most notable in America, asserted that in years to come these four pioneers would look back to the day with great satisfaction. As he expressed it, "We are making history and with this in mind we must fancy "Bolivar" hanging in a prominent and honored place on the club-room walls." Mr. Tillinghast secured a first par — a 4 on the first hole played, and likewise the first "bird," — a 2 on the third. To the same player must be given the rather doubtful distinction of slapping first into the lake in front of the fifth teeing ground, which he did to his great disgust on this history making day.

Only five holes were ready for play but the players made the short round frequently and they found that the distances were excellent. In the near future we will attempt a description of this new course, which has been so widely discussed and which promises so much.

February 1914

Pine Valley now has eleven holes opened for play and each week-end finds many golfers availing themselves of the excellent conditions. The last three holes to be cleared of stumps are opening rapidly, and will be ready for the spring seedling. Although there exists no clubhouse at present the players are welcomed warmly by Mr. George A. Crump, who has built a pretentious bungalow close by the fourth fairway.

April 1914

In my previous estimate of the merits of the new course at Pine Valley, I had only considered the first dozen holes, but as the ground has been cleared and the last six holes developed, I must confess that they are indeed remarkable. In as short time I hope to give a complete description of this wonderful course, and I am sure that the readers of this magazine will be quire as enthusiastic as myself.

June 1914

Pine Valley is coming on famously. The few remaining holes which were to be cleared will be quite ready for the fall seeding and since they have been opened up they appear to be even better that the constructors had even dared to hope.

Insert Photo: Dr. Simon Carr piloting Ben Sayers around Pine Valley, and pointing out the proper line of play. Circa June 1914.

Insert Photo: The great Hazard of sand along the sixth fairway at Pine Valley. Circa August 1914.

December 1914

The Pine Valley Golf Club formally opened the new locker house and eleven holes on November 7th, and the members were amazed at the rapid strides which have been made during the past few months. The new building, which eventually will be used exclusively as a locker house, at present contains the temporary club rooms.

Much has been written concerning this marvelously fine course, discovered by that celebrated golf architect, Mr. H.S. Colt, but for the most part, players are familiar only with the eleven holes which are now being used. A fortnight ago the writer had the pleasure of walking over the undeveloped seven holes, and in his opinion they are the greatest of any, and Mr. Crump agrees with me in this opinion. At present the fairway is littered with uprooted stumps and underbrush, but the work of development is being pushed, and without a doubt the club will be playing on the entire course at this time next year.

As an illustration of the magnitude of the work, let me tell you that in one place, nearly twenty acres of bog will be made into a lake and it requires but small imaginative power to picture its attractiveness in the days to come.

To give an idea of the demands of Pine Valley, let me quote from the recent report of the club secretary, Dr. Simon Carr:

The total length of Pine Valley course is about 6,700 yards. It is not a sluggers course in any sense, except in the opinion of those who fix their standards by parlor golf played only with a mashie and putter. The following is an analysis of the shots up to the green, based on the supposition of good driving from each tee:

3 brassey approach shots, at holes 4, 16, 18.

4 cleek approach shots, at holes 1, 6, 9, 13.

4 midiron approach shots, at holes 2, 11m 12, 17.

4 mashie approach shots, at holes 7, 8, 14, 15.

The one-shot holes are: No. 10 for a short iron, No. 3 for a long iron, No. 5, full shot with a wooden club.

This arrangement give a full, well-balanced variety of approach shots as anyone could wish, and they are skillfully distributed over the round.

Mr. George A. Crump takes great delight in pointing out to visitors the spectacular drive to the fifth green at Pine Valley. It is a longish carry across water, but as a matter of fact it looks far greater than really is, although it must be admitted that it requires a stout stroke to get home. Not long ago a gentleman, standing on the teeing ground and looking across the lake to the green ejaculated, "It is impossible! No man can make that carry."

Mr. Crump smiled in his quiet fashion and taking his driver he proceeded to demonstrate the ease with which the carry could be made, for the drive is a favorite of his, and as often as not he lands his ball squarely on the green. But on this particular occasion the wood was perverse and on doubt, after the first few balls had ignominiously ended in the water, Mr. Crump’s desperation was responsible for repeated failure. He took each stance with grim determination, and carefully he prepared to strike, and mightily he swung — but each ball seemed bewitched until the entire supply was exhausted. It was a trifle vexing to hear the knowing "I told you so" from the doubting Thomas.

January 1915

In digging one of the pits at Pine Valley, a fine specimen of an ancient Indian stone hatchet was unearthed. It is nearly perfect.

March 1915

At Pine Valley the new holes will be completed as rapidly as possible. The original plans have been changed slightly for Mr. Crump uncovered a magnificent hole when he cut the timber from the ridge which is encountered when the 12th green is quitted. The drive is across a deep depression and unless the shot is a long one the green will not be in sight. Along the left of the fairway extends a pronounced throw which will take a hooked ball and sent it far from the "straight and narrow." This new 13th certainly is one of the best of any on the new course.

January 1916

Pine Valley has secured the services of Greenkeeper Bender, who, under the direction of the late Mr. Fred Taylor, produced the greens at Sunnybrook. It will be remembered that Mr. Taylor’s theories, treating to a considerable extent on the preparation of germinating beds for grass seeds, appeared last year in THE AMERICAN GOLFER. At Pine Valley some of the greens showed a condition of considerable acidity, which could be traced to the use of native muck from nearby water bottoms, which had been drained when the building of the course was started. Unfortunately the material had not been permitted to become conditioned for turf building. However, it is anticipated that the old greens will soon be brought back to a condition of excellence and certainly a similar error will not be made on those yet to be constructed.

April 1916

Mr. George A. Crump asserts that the greens at Pine Valley have recovered fully from the slight set-back which they sustained in the fall. It was reported erroneously that the acidity which appeared in the turf at Pine Valley was caused by a commercial humus, but Mr. Crump hastens to correct this misapprehension by admitting that the trouble could be traced directly to the application of certain muck which had not been given sufficient time to dry thoroughly.

Fourteen of the Pine Valley holes will be ready for play in the spring, and it is likely that the fall will find the course in sufficiently good condition to be played in its entirety.

 

George Crump at Pine Valley

May 1917

The Pine Valley Club has purchased large tracts of land on all sides of the course and consequently they are protected for all time against unpleasant neighbors. Included in the new purchase are sixty-five acres along the railroad tracks in the direction of Clementon. The club now owns a trifle over five hundred acres.

The turf is improving rapidly and work is being pushed on four new greens, Numbers 12, 13, 14 and 15. It is anticipated that these new holes will be ready for play in the Fall and this will complete the course. The new dormitory is completed, and the members find it extremely convenient.

May 1918

Certainly the most vital topic, discussed by Philadelphia golfers at this time, concerns the future of Pine Valley. As everyone knows, the late Mr. George Crump, after his conviction that the property possessed unusual golf features, purchased it and devoted almost all of his time and a part of his fortune to the building of the course. He practically lived on the ground, and as the months lengthened to years, a magnificent course took shape under his tireless supervision. His first reward was the unstinted praise of the leading local golfers, with whom he had played for many years. Then others of national repute visited the course and to prove that their enthusiastic estimates were not inspired by momentary impulses, they became non-resident members, visiting the valley again and again, frequently coming from remote points. In a word, Pine Valley gave greater promise of national importance than any course in America. And Mr. Crump labored on, steadfastly striving for perfection and with the course nearing completion.

A beautiful clubhouse and dormitories were built, and a number of the members of the newly organized club built bungalows on land which they leased from the club. Pine Valley rapidly was becoming a great golf center. Then suddenly the hand of death took Mr. Crump away just as he was climbing to the highest, pinnacle of his dreams. An everlasting monument to his greatness was about to be finished. To make the course and the club possible, he had spent a great amount of money and in payment he had received from the club, bonds amounting to $172,000. Without a doubt, he intended putting these bonds aside, that they might not hinder the club in the work of maintaining and further developing the great course which he had hewn from the rough. He was rugged and strong. Probably any thought of death had not occurred to him. But in his vigorous health he was struck down without warning, and his will, made some years ago, contains absolutely no provisions for Pine Valley, nor does any record of his wishes survive. In view of these circumstances, it is not difficult to grasp the situation. But undoubtedly a way will be found to make all things possible. Those who were near and dear to him cannot permit the work, which was his very life, to perish. Mr. Julian Storey has been commissioned to paint a portrait of Mr. Crump, which will be hung in the clubhouse. The artist has, for his study and guidance, a number of photographs. It is anticipated that the canvas will show Pine Valley's founder in golf costume, which he wore always in the work he loved so well. Mr. Joe K. Bole, of Cleveland, one of Pine Valley's members and staunchest admirers, has prepared a wonderfully perfect model of the course. In detail and in general the model is faithful and artistic.

July 1918

As predicted in The American Golfer several months ago, Pine Valley is to be completed and maintained as closely as possible to the line which would have been followed by the late Mr. George Crump had he lived. This is good news indeed, not only to the members of the club but to golfers in general, for this course promises to be rated among the greatest in America.

January 1919

One of the last year’s greatest blows was the death of Mr. George Crump. At the time of his death he was nearing the completion of a great piece of work, the construction of the Pine Valley course, at Clemonton, New Jersey. From the beginning it was a gigantic undertaking and one which required much money. Mr. Crump had provided funds from his private purse and afterwards, when a club was organized, he turned the property over to the new organization, accepting club-bonds, which covered the greater part of his out-lay.

His sudden death came as a rude shock to golfers in all parts of the country, but particularly to those who were associated with him at Pine Valley. Of middle age and in rugged health, Mr. Crump had not anticipated a sudden taking away, and unfortunately his will made no provision for the taking care of the club-bonds or the completion of the work.

Fortunately, his estate recognized that this course was the dream of Mr. Crump’s life and soon there were offered ways by which the club might continue. Although the course was completely planned there remained four holes to be completed and it was estimate that close to twenty-five thousand dollars would be necessary to finish them.

Now it is announced that one of the Pine Valley members has offered to furnish the funds for the work but he will not permit his name to be made public. This surely is a wonderful tribute to the game and to Mr. Crump’s memory.

{Mr. E.G. Grace, president of the Bethlehem Steel Co. has donated $35,000 for the completion of the remaining four holes — Editor}

February 1919

Last month, in our reference to Pine Valley and a contribution which had been made for the completion of the four unfinished holes, the Editor inserted a clause which stated that Mr. Eugene Grace was the mysterious donator of $35,000 for this purpose. Now, I know that he got this information from a source which seemed to preclude any possibility of mistake, but the following letter from Mr. Howard Perrin, President of Pine Valley and ex-president of the USGA, speaks for itself:

"My dear ________:

I notice in "Hazard’s" article in the American Golfer, (and I am sure you know this gentleman very well) that he makes a statement relative to Pine Valley which is absolutely incorrect and which I would like to have you correct in your next article and in any other way that you see fit.

Mr. Grace did not give any money whatever to Pine Valley and I do not understand where the report emanated.

Mr. Grinnell Willis of Morristown, New Jersey, who has been very much interested in Pine Valley and was a great friend of George’s and mine, and who spends considerable of his time at Pine Valley, came in to see me about a month ago and said that he would be glad to give $20,000 to finish the four holes at Pine Valley, and in a few days he sent me a check for that amount. It seemed to me that inasmuch as the Crump Estate had returned to us $40,000 of the $100,000 in bonds that were held by George, for the purpose of taking care of the $20,000 note and to finish the course, that it was only fair since we had sold $20,000 of the bonds to take care of the note, that the other $20,000 of the bonds should be given to Mr. Willis instead of accepting his offer as an absolute gift.

So it practically amounts to Mr. Willis having purchased $20,000 of the Pine Valley Golf Club five per cent Bonds and the proceeds will be used for finishing the course.

Mr. Willis asked at the time he made his gift, that his name should not be made known to the newspapers, although all club members knew that the money was given by him, but since the newspapers have gone entirely wrong on the subject, I think it only fair that the facts should now be stated.

Mr. Grace naturally is very much annoyed that he should have been given credit for something he did not do and therefore, you will be helping not only Mr. Willis but Mr. Grace in stating the facts of the case."

(ending in a purely personal strain)

Faithfully yours,

Howard W. Perrin"


April 1919

They are active at Pine Valley. The course will be completed as quickly as possible, and it is likely that the new green committee will consist of but two — Dr. Simon Carr and Mr. Hugh Wilson.

The committee will grapple with the work of improving the soil conditions for the fairway is not good in spots. When the course was seeded much of the sand was given only a top-dressing, which evidently has not been sufficient. Now it is determined to plow much of it up and incorporate with the light sand a proper amount of heavier soil.

September 1919

It will be good news to learn that at last the Pine Valley course will be open for play over the full eighteen holes in the course of six weeks or even less. There will be a house warming and perhaps, a one day tourney at 36 holes to which will be invited all the crack golfers of the country. The course has improved wonderfully of late and the architectural beauty of the new holes will charm the old members as well as those who have never seen the course. It has taken a long while, but he course is worth it, every bit.

CLOSING NOTES

May I be pardoned again if I turn to the column of the date of January 28, 1918? Never have I penned lines with more difficulty than those which announced the passing of George Crump, and the little tribute, weak in itself doubtless, never the less came from the heart, for my old friend was a man who came hearts that way.

IN THE PINES

Strangely quiet is the Valley;

Through the clouds, the new moon shines;

Now the whimp’ring winds of winter

Brings a murmur from the pines.

Listen to the moaning night-wind.

For the whispers sadly say: --

"How desolate our Valley Since George has gone away."

"Men may raise a shaft of marble

And make words in chiseled lines,

But his true shrine, everlasting,

Shall be here among the pines; --

In the hearts of those, who loved him,

Deep in hearts of men, who’ll say; --

‘How desolate our Valley

Since George has gone away.’

Dr. Simon Carr driving from the second tee at Pine Valley.
Mr. George A. Crump is on the extreme left. Circa April 1916
.