| Club History || |
On a mid-summer day in 1952, a foursome—George Yocum, Warren Freed, Reub Dunbar, and Jake Crouthamel—finished their round at Norristown’s Jeffersonville Golf Course, piled their clubs in the trunk of the car, and headed home for Lansdale. There was the usual grousing about the crowded conditions on the public course and the distance they had to drive. One of them raised the possibility of starting their own private club, near Lansdale. A search for the right piece of land began.
The location team, which also included Early Gilbert, Neil Conver, Newton Clemens, Carl Keyser, and Edwin Gotwals, learned that Andrew Vogel, who owned Fisher’s palomino horse farm (Roy Rogers’ "Trigger" was born and raised there!) might be interested in selling. On the last Saturday morning in September, 1952, Yocum, Gotwals, Clemens and Gilbert drove out to Telford to take a look at the property. They liked what they saw: the rolling terrain traversed by Indian Creek, the gracious three-story farmhouse, the big barn, the formal garden with its fish pond. And they liked the terms Mr. Vogel agreed to: 149 1/4 acres, with buildings, for $62,500; $10,000 down payment (Early Gilbert made out his personal check on the spot); and six months to come up with the balance.
Because the ground on two sides of the property sloped down toward Indian Creek, the new organization was named Indian Valley Country Club. Papers of incorporation were signed in Norristown on September 30, and the following day a group of men gathered at the Tremont Hotel in Lansdale. At that meeting the first board of governors was elected: Robert Bartholomew, Albert Boileau, Edwin Gotwals, Carl Keyser, Robert Krupp, Anthony Mascara, Charles Mosheim, William Serekow, Willard Shelby, George Thorpe, Robert Williams, and George Yocum. Four officers were chosen: Robert Krupp, president; Willard Shelby, vice president; Carl Keyser, secretary; Early Gilbert, treasurer.
To raise the $200,000 needed to purchase the property, build the golf course, and make other necessary improvements, it was decided to sell 400 bonds at $500 each. By January there were 130 applicants for membership; by February, 200. The prospects were good.
The farmhouse that, in 1952, became the original clubhouse of Indian Valley.
And once the property was paid for in full, on April 1, 1953, a number of projects were undertaken. The residence itself was extensively remodeled in order to provide a bar and grille in the basement, a kitchen, dining room, and solarium on the first floor, and offices and a board room on the second floor. A new well was dug, underground telephone wires were installed, the silo was offered free to anyone who would take it (someone did), a parking lot was built, the barn’s hayloft was designated a combination ballroom/social hall, and the horse stalls were converted into men’s and women’s locker rooms. Over the objections of a few curmudgeonly male golfers, construction was begun on a swimming pool. And Bill and Dave Gordon were commissioned to lay out and build an 18-hole golf course for $102,000. Par would be 72, whether the course is played from the back tees (6,860 yards) or the forward markers (5,794 yards). It should be noted that Bill Gordon was the co-founder, with J. B McGovern, of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
Though more than a year would pass before the course was ready. Bob Hendricks took the job of golf professional, agreeing to serve through 1953 for no compensation other than what lessons might provide and to oversee the building of a pro shop (total cost, $650). To promote interest in the game and the club, Hendricks staged driving contests along Bergey Road that summer.
A major problem confronting the club was the need to close Creek Road, a public road which crossed the entire property and had been in use for more than 20 years. Thanks to the efforts of Charles Mosheim and Newton Clemens, the consent of the neighbors was obtained and the commonwealth’s Highway Department declared it private. Today, the flat area in front of the creek on the 15th hole is a reminder of this road.
Tree and shrubbery planting prompted many members, both men and women, to pitch in, with George Yocum providing his tractor and post-hole digger. Indeed, this generous volunteering of time and materials characterized countless early projects in what was a concerted labor of love.
The first club dance was held in "the Wigwam," as the hayloft had been dubbed, in late September, 1953. Two weeks afterward, the clubhouse itself was opened for "drinking and dining." The golf course was seeded little more than a month later. And, not for the first time in the history of Philadelphia golf, Memorial Day was chosen for the grand opening. So in 1954, a bit less than two years after that foursome driving back from Jeffersonville had hatched the idea, the course they had dreamed of was ready for play.