Pine Valley already has three club histories, does it really need a fourth? The short answer is yes, and the new entrant focuses on a very specific time period, and it is a doozy. Crump’s Dream The Making of Pine Valley 1913-1936 was written by Andrew C. Mutch and was published in 2013. The hardcover book was issued without a dust jacket, in a slipcase. The pictorial slipcase has beautiful black and white images on both the front and the back.
The book is 226 pages and represents an extensive and exhaustively researched history of Pine Valley’s early years. It contains a copious amount of early black and white photos of the course, early architectural hole drawings and insights into the design of the course. It also includes in-depth coverage of the 1936 Walker Cup, which was held at Pine Valley, as well as insightful quotes and other interesting facts about the #1 ranked course in the world. Close-up color images of the murals that adorn the walls of the clubhouse at Pine Valley are also included. Mutch is a museum professional designer and artist, and he has done his homework.
The book was edited (in a supreme fashion) by Jerry Tarde, the editor of Golf Digest. The opening 43 pages serve as a visually oriented preamble to the book and they contain scores of old black and white photos (more accurately they are old sepia photographs) of the early course. Several things jump out at you as you look through the extended introduction: the early pictures of the course show a stark landscape, without many of today’s trees. In particular, a shot of the early short par-4 eighth hole, is breathtaking. The picture shows a foursome and their caddies standing on the green (which is smaller than today’s), and it looks like they are adrift on a small desert island, hanging on the precipice of land. The other thing that stands out is how young and small the child caddies pictured are. There are other interesting historical items the book shows, including how the initially designed course is slightly different than today’s. Of note is the “buried elephant” hump in the middle of the eighteenth green, which, luckily for us mortal golfers, has been removed. And there is a picture of the tenth hole showing it prior to the addition of the Devil’s Aperture bunker in front. This first section of the book is like playing the course itself: exhilarating. All credit to Mutch for tracking down such an eclectic and wide-ranging group of interesting early photos, which he did from obscure private collections and unlikely sources from around the country. The man has a Ph.D., and the book reflects the meticulousness you would expect of such a learned student of the game.
Mutch’s approach is a thoughtful one, rather than try to interpret a lot of what occurred during this early period in the club’s history, as he explains, he wanted to “…let the makers of the history speak for themselves in their own voices rather than apply a surplus of interpretation where it is not necessary,” and it is a brilliant strategy.
Among the many interesting tid-bits I picked up from the book was the fact that both A.W. Tillinghast and George Thomas were founding members of Pine Valley. The former said about the course in 1913, “It will not be for the novice or the timid player.” Anyone who has stood on the fourth tee box, well below the surface of the fairway, with a blind shot featuring 180 yards of uphill carry over waste area, knows that Tilly was not exaggerating.
Although the course opened in 1913 in an incomplete state, it took an additional six years for the final seven holes to be completed. In the intervening years, George Crump committed suicide— in 1918 at the age of 46. During the early years of the course, they had much trouble growing grass and continually sought outside help to try to rectify the problem. Mutch attributes the suicide to the failing condition of the course and associated financial troubles.
The book contains a detailed analysis of the course’s design. It is clear that Crump was the driving force behind the course and its design, although H.S. Colt was intimately involved in the routing. Colt camped on the grounds in a tent for a week during a U.S. visit and produced a routing map (which hangs in the clubhouse, and is pictured in the book). Crump took most of the Colt’s design, although he had strong views on what should be changed, and he prevailed. The book states that Pine Valley’s first hole is patterned after Hoylake’s. After Crump’s death Charles Alison was brought in to complete the routing and the course and many other learned architects of the day were also consulted including A.W. Tillinghast, Hugh Wilson and William Flynn. The book contains copies of Colt’s hand-drawn hole-by-hole color illustrations.
As Mutch illuminates Crump’s design philosophy, “In almost all instances where a player could receive a lucky bounce or use an unintended slope to an advantage, the offending flaw was eliminated. Great care was taken to assure that a range of demands were placed on the golfer, necessitating thought, strategy, power, finesse and endurance…there was no place for luck.”
After Crump’s death the Philadelphia Evening Ledger wrote in his obituary, “The greatest monument to George A. Crump will not be the shaft that will be raised over his grave…but the Pine Valley Golf Club. Other men have left hospitals, endowed libraries, bequeathed art collections, but [he] instead has given to the golfers of America the finest and most scientifically build golf course in this or any other country.”
Thanks to the club and Mutch for producing another fine history.
— John Sabino
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