Architect Robert McNeil is working on a renovation project at one of Pennsylvania's oldest golf clubs.
The nine hole Montrose Club was founded in 1898, making it the fifth oldest in the state. Over the past five years, though the town of Montrose has become the epicentre of natural gas exploration. The presence of vast quantities of natural gas has attracted speculators and drilling companies to the small town.
Trucks transporting gas and those involved in the construction of rigging platforms has increased exponentially. The Montrose Club sits on the confluence of three of the main cross-town roads, and in particular the club's second green and sixth hole have sat within a few feet of a road for many years – in fact, the sixth was part of the course's original routing in 1898. Recently, in response to the heightened traffic, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has designed a realignment of the roads – taking away a portion of the second green.
The club has hired McNeil, principal of the Northeast Golf Company, to build a new hole. “Currently the hole plays as a short uphill par four of 324 yards,” he said. “The road – which is out of bounds of course – runs to the left, heating up the nerves and adding a bit of difficulty to the tee shot. Then, with the green resting so close to the roadway, the approach presents a whole different set of problems. In its current location there is an obvious safety issue related to the passing traffic.”
McNeil's new design will relocate the green to the west, providing space for framing and protective shaping behind the surface. The hole will remain a short par four with the line of play moving away from the road and bunkering will be added within a high knob along the fairway and the left of the green, forcing play to the right.
“Montrose is a special place with all the quirks and charm of a layout derived in the late 1800s. The new second hole will embrace this charm and the simplicity of golf at the turn of the century,” said McNeil.