Feature Interview with Tom Paul

Part Two – Page 3

Hole #13—Crump:
Colt’s 13th was identical to Crump’s original 11th.  Both were app. 300 yard par 4s with the green in the middle of the present first fairway of #13. After Colt left, Crump lengthened #13 considerably at the green-end. He first drew a green a good deal to the right (and shorter) than the present green site that he apparently discovered with a recommendation from A.W. Tillinghast. In a few ways it seems the eventual development of #13 was connected to the previous development of the green and green-end of #12. Crump gave up Colt’s 12th green site which was almost in the same place as Crump’s original #10 green site, and placed the green, angled perpendicularly, to the left of the hole in its interesting “cape” or “delayed dogleg” arrangement. When he did this is a bit hazy but according to the chronicle of one of his closest friends (W.P. Smith), it happened at some point before the late summer of 1917. The chronicle of another of his closest friends (Father Simon Carr) states Crump wanted a “run-away” green along the lines of Myopia’s #16 (which at or before that time happened to be a short par 4 and not the par 3 it is today). According to these chronicles, Crump also wanted the 13th tee connected to the back of the 12th green with a raised tee so the flag on #13 green on the left could be seen from the 13th tee!!!! I use those exclamation marks because that idea may be very difficult to visualize today because of the trees on the left of #13! However, if one looks at the old aerials they will see that Crump had cleared trees perhaps fifty yards deep or more below the 13th ridgeline down the bank towards #15, and all the way from this proposed tee to the green site! Apparently this was why—-so a golfer on the left tee could see the flag on the green! I am in agreement with so many that the 13th hole of Pine Valley is one of the truly great long par 4s of the world. However, if there ever was a case where a world class hole could be made even greater, this is it. Even if they had to raise the left tees on #13 (as Crump apparently wanted to do) if the golfer today could actually see the flag on the 13th green from the left tees, can you imagine what that might do to his concentration knowing he had to hit his tee shot to the fairway so far out to the right!!?

Hole #14—Crump, Govan, or still unresolved attribution-wise:
This hole is certainly not Colt, and other than Colt, it is the only one I can’t yet attribute to Crump with any factual or research assurance. #14 at Pine Valley had more routing and hole-design concept iterations than any other hole on the course. Colt’s #14 routing and design was identical to Crump’s original stick routing #12! Both were medium length par 3s that dropped from a tee on the 13th ridgeline about where the first fairway ends to a green site about where the 15th fairway begins. Later, perhaps in 1915, when Crump altered the plan for #13 and pushed the green out and quite far to the right, he replaced (on his “Blue/Red Line Topo”), the Colt 3-par 14th with a shortish 4-par 14th that ended short of the lake to the left of the line down present #14. When Crump found the present #13 green site (or Tillinghast or both Crump and Tillinghast found it together?), the concept iterations for #14 increased. Crump had a medium length par-3 iteration (shown on the “Blue/Red line” topo map) that went from a tee slightly below the present middle tees on #14 to a green at the far end of the “Nature Walk” from #15 tee to the 15th fairway. However, there’s a concept hole in the Pine Valley archives that, in my opinion, would’ve been one of the most amazing, high risk-reward, half-par, cape-hole iterations in the world. The tee appears to have been in the same place as the aforementioned par 3 of Crump’s but this one had a green where the beginning of the 15th fairway is now. Directly at the green was a carry of about 250 yards with the lake in front and on the right. To the left where the “Nature Walk” is now was a fairway which played app. 300 yards to the green around from the left. Along with some other material I got this drawing from Gil Hanse over a dozen years ago. It was part of a series of documents that included all the Pine Valley Hugh Alison material and some reversible hole drawings from Walter Travis that PV president Mel Dickenson let Gil Hanse copy years ago when he was at Cornell University. Gil and I discussed it once and we thought this fantastic half-par, cape hole was probably Walter Travis or certainly drawn by him. The par-3 14th that was built and exists today may be hard to attribute accurately. It’s at least probable Crump never saw it built, and it’s possible he might not have seen its design (in an article, George Govan claimed his father, Jim Govan, was responsible for the #14 design). However, just as the evolution of the 13th seems to have depended on the evolution of the 12th , I believe the evolution of the 14th depended on the evolution of #15, and vice versa. Whether or not Crump approved of the 14th as built or saw it built is a question but he seemed to know the 15th tee would be placed around the 14th green fill area as one can see (on the “Blue/Red line Topo”) one of his red lines from the 15th tee to the fairway across the lake.

Hole #15—Crump, Colt, {Wilson?/Flynn?/Govan?}:
Catholic priest, Father Simon Carr, one of Crump’s closest friends at Pine Valley, wrote about the 15th hole and Crump: “George never decided what to do with this hole. He wanted some kind of a three-shot hole, but could not give it a special character and feature and he admitted that the only way to build a genuine three shotter like No. 7 was to make the shots as dependable on each other that without three perfect shots you could not play the hole properly and he did not wish to repeat No. 7. This is the reason why he never made any effort to finish it as he first started it. It was the last thing on which I talked to him before he died, and he had not decided what to do with it.” Another of Crump’s closest friends at Pine Valley, W.P Smith, wrote the following about #15 and Crump: “9/10/17 G.A.C. said he had been advised to make this a two-shot hole but decided against it. Wanted to always punish the very long player with no mental control. He intended third shot to render weakminded slasher incapable of landing on the green.” Whatever Crump had in mind for #15, from the foregoing it appears he was still undecided when he died (Jan 24, 1918). Just as various changes to the hole design of #12 influenced changes to the hole design of #13 and changes to #13 influenced changes to #14, I believe changes to the hole designs of #14 and #16 left Crump confused and undecided with what to do with the hole design of #15. On his original routing before Colt first arrived, Crump had a hole that went from about the middle of the present 15th hole to a green site about where #11 green is today. Measuring that distance it seems the hole would’ve been a long par 4. From there Crump had (as his 16th) a long par 5 from a tee next to the 11th green to the present 16th green site. Colt changed the 15th on his routing plan from the hole Crump had on his original routing; he had to as the second half of Colt’s #11 took the space Crump had as the second half of his 15th hole! Colt’s 15th had a tee near the beginning of the present 15th fairway. He listed his 15th hole at 480-500 yards so it must have been a par 5, particularly as it played uphill. Colt’s green site on his plan appears to be approximately the same as the present 15th green site. Again, Father Carr wrote Crump never made any effort to finish #15 as he had started it. What could he have meant by ‘as he started it?’ If he meant Crump wanted to go back to his original 15th hole on his stick routing that would not have been possible once he accepted Colt’s suggestion for #11 and particularly its green site. Once that happened Crump virtually had no ability to return #16 to the long par 5 he had on his stick routing (more on that below). So he must have meant Crump did want #15 to be a par 5 but was somewhat unsure before he died how to go about it; and certainly considering if he was unsure what to do with #14 before he died. #15 was apparently cleared and rough shaped when Crump died but like #14 it would not be put into play until late 1921 or 1922. It appears Wilson, Flynn and Govan were responsible for finishing it off and putting it in play.

Hole #16:—Crump and Colt:
As mentioned above, Crump’s original idea for #16 was a long par 5 from a tee near the present 11th green to the present 16th green site (I measured it off the scale on the March 1913 stick routing and got 560 yards). When Crump accepted Colt’s 11th hole, the 16th had to be shortened to a long par 4 with its tee and first half moved considerably to the right. #16 was built and in-play from 1915 or at least 1916. However, this thought provoking remark was written by W.P. Smith in “The Remembrances” (Carr’s and Smith’s chronicle of what Crump wanted to do with the holes of Pine Valley): “10/10/17: He had decided to change this hole, either to leave it where it is and eliminate all grass strips in front of the green making one large bunker or to build a new green far out on the right overhanging deep hollow toward railroad.” If Crump wanted to move the 16th green farther out to the right it would’ve been on that semi-peninsula behind present #14 green and if he kept the same tee position that would’ve made the hole a par 5. It is not uncommon for an architect to get wedded to some hole-concept they thought of originally and not want to give it up or at least to try to go back to it somehow. This might help explain why Crump was apparently confused near the end of his life (as per Carr’s remarks) with what exactly to do with #15.

Hole #17—Crump, Colt:
Crump had this hole on his initial March 1913 stick routing but it was slightly longer at the tee-end and the green site was about 20 yards to the left of the present green. When Colt’s 10th green site and 11th tee position was accepted and built the 17th green had to move to the right. Crump’s initial 17th plan was for a thirty-plus yard longer hole but there was no water-works for the lake behind the 17th tee at that time.

Hole #18—Crump:
The finishing hole was one of Crump’s two favorites. A.W. Tillinghast described seven holes in May 1913 and five of them (#1-#4 and #18) were built and put into play just as he described them.

Other than Crump and Colt the list of who contributed to the architecture of the course as finally completed and opened for play in 1921 and 1922 is remarkably long and interesting. The length of that list indicates to me Crump’s willingness to collaborate with others and to even seek out collaboration. On that long list, I think the most significant, other than Crump and Colt, would have to be Hugh Alison because of the comprehensive plan he was asked by Pine Valley to offer them when hired by the so-called 1921 Advisory Committee a few years after the shock of Crump’s sudden death in 1918. Alison was not only asked by the 1921 Advisory Committee to offer a hole by hole plan, he was even put on the committee as a member. Some have wondered why Alison was chosen by Pine Valley at that point—1921. It is of course a good and interesting question but one that seems to have no answers within the club or otherwise. Alison had no previous connection with Pine Valley at that point other than his partnership with Harry Colt. And there were a good number of qualified architects at that point in and around Pine Valley who were members of the club. Those would include Hugh Wilson, William Flynn and Howard Toomey (Toomey was even on the board of Trustees), Max Behr, George Thomas etc. I suppose the club may’ve decided rather than selecting one of their own to the exclusion of others in the club the best policy would be to go to an outsider like Alison: There is no question some of the members and administrators of the club at that time, including Howard Perrin and the Wilson brothers, had a great deal of respect for Alison as an architect and as a man (Alan and Hugh Wilson remarked in various letters that they considered Alison to be a real ‘gentleman’). It may be somewhat significant as well that around this time Alison proposed going into partnership with William Flynn. There is also no question that Alison was soliciting business contacts from the Wilson brothers and Piper and Oakley at this time, particularly around Washington D.C.

Next in order of significance, I would put a man who has almost never been given much mention or credit. This was Crump’s constant foreman Jim Govan. He was an excellent player, a professional from Scotland and the main “shot tester” with Crump. He was at Crump’s side constantly from early 1914 to the end of Crump’s life.***** It has long been my belief that it was both Crump and Govan who were almost completely responsible for what I would refer to as the initial iteration of the “designing up” of the routing of Pine Valley. By that I am referring to the bunker arrangements and the shapes and contours of the greens. Apparently their method of doing that was almost completely constant shot testing. When one really gets into the nuts and bolts of golf course architecture I believe they will inevitably come to realize the importance and significance of that phase of development I just referred to as “designing up.” I have long stressed the importance of that phase because I believe it is possible to take any single routing and make it look like perhaps fifty different courses depending on the differences of that “designing up” phase. If Harry Colt left any instructions or ideas for the designing of the shapes and particularly the internal contours of the greens of Pine Valley no record of it has ever been found. His hole by hole booklet is the best source to use for that. Very few have ever analyzed it. It does not include internal green contouring instructions and most of the green shapes in his booklet are generic and fairly amorphous. The bunkering arrangements in Colt’s booklet are more specific but on most holes Crump and Govan developed their own bunker placements and bunkering schemes (#9 is probably the most complete example of Colt’s bunkering scheme).

Following Govan I would list Perry Maxwell next in significance and then Travis, A.W. Tillinghast, Flynn, Thomas, Wilson and even C.B. Macdonald for 2-3 recorded suggestions. Following that there was a long hiatus of architectural input from architects until Tom Fazio in the 1980s and on.

After the architects, one must consider the superintendents over time including the presidents they worked under. The supers would be Govan, Mattiace, Steineger (for almost fifty years with club president John Arthur Brown), Bator and Christian and the presidents were Perrin, Brown, Ransome, Dickenson and Brewer. The architectural changes made by all those men individually and collectively have been fairly minor compared to architectural changes made to other significant golf courses over eight or nine decades. Nevertheless, there were some changes and some quite interesting. Perhaps the most significant was a program undertaken in the late 1920s that is referred to in the club history as “Holding the course together.” This program apparently lasted for five years during which 3-5 thousand trees and other vegetation were planted each year in an attempt to stabilize areas of shifting and sliding sand (Pine Valley’s site initially was almost completely sand based. Matter of fact, not long before Crump bought it in 1912 it was owned by a sand mining company).

Pine Valley’s administrative structure has always provided for something of an all-powerful president of which the club has only had six in a century. Those presidents have been generally hands off on the actual architecture of the course. John Arthur Brown made a few minor changes as did Ernie Ransome and Gordon Brewer, the latter two with Tom Fazio.

In wrapping up this answer, I would like to mention that in my opinion, the creation of Pine Valley was perhaps one of the most unusual in the entire history of golf course architecture. It seems the reasons it was so unique somehow all revolved around one man, George Crump. I’ve studied everything available about Crump for the last dozen or so years and it seems to me George Crump’s personality was a very rare combination of things. Given what so many people said and wrote about him it’s quite easy to tell he was extremely kind with an interesting sense of humor that was at turns ironical and self-deprecating. He certainly was willing to ask almost anyone what they felt about his course and what should be done with it but if he did not like the suggestion it appears he never criticized it or the person offering it but merely let it go without mention. The only instance I’m aware of when he made a critical remark was in reaction to Colt moving the plan for the 2nd green to the left and putting the 3rd tee where the 2nd green would be built. To that suggestion, apparently Crump roared “NO GOOD!” It seems he had a remarkable number of friends and acquaintances who loved him.

On the other hand, it seems he was a man of particular fixation of purpose and there is little question in the last 6-8 years of his life his singular fixation was Pine Valley’s golf course. He wanted it to be a golf course for champions only—-he didn’t seem to even want to consider lesser players and high handicappers. Some even called it “Crump’s Folly” apparently due to the wilderness-like look of the site and the difficulty in those days of growing grass on almost straight sand.

There is no question his life saw personal tragedy. His young wife died suddenly in 1906 shortly after their marriage and before he even completed their impressive house in Merchantville. He had no children. He sold his business in 1910 for a lot of money in those days. When he bought the original land for Pine Valley in October, 1912, he installed his mother in his Merchantville house and essentially moved to Pine Valley. Pine Valley lore says at first he just pitched a tent on the pond of #5 and lived there with his dogs and the geese and ducks. Then he built his little cabin in the same spot. In the beginning Crump essentially owned Pine Valley but he did not want to be its president. For that he tapped his close friend Howard Perrin who would remain Pine Valley’s president into the late 1920s.

If the history of golf architecture and golf architects ever had a Thoreau/Walden Pond-like project or experience, George Crump and Pine Valley was it.  He went into the woods to live alone in the beginning of 1913, and even though the record is not particularly clear, it appears he spent most of his time there, both day and night. Some asked him when he was going to finish the course and apparently he bellowed “Never!” A heretofore little known newspaper article even has a quotation from Crump when asked why another few hundred acres was bought, that would say; ‘When I finish Pine Valley I will build another course beside it just for women.’ America’s nineteen month participation in WW1 which began in the spring of 1917 slowed down his project and he would not live to see WW1 end or Pine Valley completed. He was forty six when he died by his own hand at Pine Valley on Jan 24, 1918. Following his sudden death the club would have a hiatus for almost two years with finishing the course and there were more agronomic problems to deal with on what had been done and put in play. Their beloved Crump was gone and so was his wallet. At the end of 1921 and the beginning of 1922 all eighteen holes finally opened for play and Pine Valley would go on to be considered perhaps the world’s most consistent candidate for top spot in golf and golf architecture.

N.B. None of the roads that run through Pine Valley were reflected on the 1913 routing plans. The only road on the March 1913 plans is now obsolete (from #13 to #18).

 

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*****A 1991 article in Links periodical with Jim Govan’s son, George Govan, reflects some of the working relationship between Crump and Jim Govan, including that interesting item that the 14th hole was the idea of Jim Govan. George Govan was a young boy when his father and their family moved to Pine Valley in March 1914. At that time there were only two residences at Pine Valley—-Crump’s cabin by the pond on #5 and the Govans’ house to the right of the 2nd fairway. The 1991 article on George Govan even included his recollection of that time when Crump was found dead in his cabin. Another recollection of George Govan was that Crump drew the plans they used to work on the development of the course day after day.

 

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