Restoring a living museum


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

One of American golf architecture's key early works, the Old Course at the Bedford Springs resort in southern Pennsylvania is to reopen after a restoration by architect Ron Forse.

"Select holes at Bedford Springs are thought to be some of the first golf holes installed in America, creating something of a golf architectural museum," said Rikki Boparai, general manager of the Bedford Springs Resort. The course, originally laid out in 1895 by Spencer Oldham, has been redesigned twice before, by AW Tillinghast in 1912 and Donald Ross in 1923.

The new-look par 72 course, which will play between 5,050 and 6,795 yards, features bentgrass greens, fairways and tees, with rough consisting of bluegrass and fescue. It is characterised by deep bunkering and flared greens.

Shobers Run creek comes into play throughout the front nine holes, as well as on holes eleven, fourteen, fifteen and eighteen. The northern and southern points of the landscape, where the course starts and finishes respectively, present various elevation changes, while the remaining property below the hills levels out along the river valley.

Watershed specialist LandStudies has restored more than a mile of Shobers Run stream channel and floodplain. Also restored was an important tributary leading into the stream, providing an ideal native trout habitat. There are eleven holes that were Ross designs and four that remain from Tillinghast, whose lasting overall influence on the course is most evident at the fourteenth hole, named 'Tiny Tim'. This downhill par three is derived from a Tillinghast sketch in his book Gleanings From The Wayside.

Pennsylvania contractor Frontier Golf carried out the works.