Monday, April 6, 2009

George Crump

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George Crump, present on the green when the term "birdie" was coined, on the original 12th hole of the Atlantic City Country Club (ACCC), designed, laid out and built Pine Valley, said to be the greatest golf course in the world.

Crump owned a hotel in center city Philadelphia, and played golf on a weekly basis with a group of other, similar, rather wealthy hotel owners and businessmen, who frequented the Atlantic City Country Club in the off-season winter months when their own home courses in Philadelphia were covered with snow. They would take the train from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, get off at the next to last Pleasantville stop on the mainland, and then take a trolley down Shore Road a couple of miles to the country club. Shortly before the arrival of the last trolley they would ring the bell by the front door of the club, which is still there, to notify the transient golfers of the last departure.

The group, often eight or more men, would play a game they called a "Philadelphia Ballsome," in which the winner of each hole would be renumerated in some way by the others, making for a spirted play.

It was during one such outing to ACCC, said to have taken place one afternoon in December, 1905, when the term "birdie" was coined, with the meaning of a hole being played in one under par for the course. (See: Birth of the Birdie).

It was also, during the train ride back to Philadelphia, when Crump is said to have first laid eyes on the scrub pine forest where he decided to build his golf course, which would arguably become known as the greatest golf course in the world.

In an interview with a reporter who found him when he was in the process of building his course, Crump explained how he wanted to build a golf course that would encourage families, women and children, to take up the game and enjoy playing golf.

While it was the only golf course he designed and built, Crump would not make it to the 18th hole, and died before it was complete, so an Irishman was brought in to complete the last few holes.

And when it finally opened for business, as a private entity, Pine Valley would not become Crump's vision of a golf's family paradise, but an an exclusive men's club where president's played a round with big business, and in the end, neither golf, big business, or politics was ever quite the same.

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