Spring Mill Country Club
|Spring Mill Country Club|
80 Jacksonville Road
Ivyland, PA 18974
Architect: Garrett J. Renn
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For the first 18 years of its existence, what is now Spring Mill Country Club was a public facility. Its name was Bryn Llawen Golf Club. In 1966, a small group of people, several of them members of Whitemarsh Valley, others from New Jersey’s Laurel Oaks Country Club, had bought the 186-acre Heuscher Farm (vegetables) in Ivyland, near Warminster, lower Bucks County.
A 1996 photo of the Spring Mill clubhouse.
Carry Renn, who had designed Little Mill, was commissioned to lay out the eighteen, which opened for play in 1968. At much the same time, an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, a miniature golf course, and a lighted practice range were built. The daily-fee player had a number of choices at Bryn Llawen.
In 1972 Hap Carr, a longtime Bucks County resident who had joined the original owners as an investor in the property, became president of the club. He renamed it HiPoint Golf Farm, on the basis of his belief that the 16th tee is the highest point in Bucks County. Dick Smith, an outstanding area player who would later become president of the PGA of America, served as the club’s first head professional. After six years in the job, he turned over the reins to his brother Tom, who served for 12 years.
In 1986 the entire property was bought by Peter DePaul, the current owner. He changed the name to Spring Mill Country Club (there are tennis courts and a swimming pool in addition to the varied golf amenities) and converted it to a private facility to be used by only its members and their guests. He also set about making a number of substantive revisions. What had been a rather open and relatively easy course soon had teeth, thanks chiefly to the planting of hundreds of trees, the creation of a handful of water hazards, and the addition of numerous bunkers, not one of which is merely decorative.
Spring Mill is a very gently rolling parkland course. Trees frame most holes, but do not corset them. An errant drive—the fairways in the tee shot landing area range in width from 30 to 35 yards—is not necessarily "in jail." There is sometimes a chance to get home with your recovery, but the shots to the greens are extremely demanding. For what gives this course its character is the stringent greenside bunkering.
Admittedly, the bunkers are shallow, but they are also omnipresent. Again and again and again, the only way on is up and on. For example, at the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th, sand seals off the front of the green. It is all but impossible to bounce or run a shot on.
Among the outstanding holes are 3 and 18. The 3rd is strong stuff—194 yards from the whites, 241 from the blues, slightly falling to a severely bunkered green. But it is the pond on the left, just short of the greenside bunker, that is the real menace here. The home hole is another beauty—426 yards, the long second shot smoothly downhill. Here the green is bunkered only at the left, but the penalty for steering clear of the sand can be severe. On the right, a stand of pines not 40 yards short of the green eats into the line of play to endanger the shot that has even a suggestion of fade. It is an excellent hole and a fitting culmination to the round.
A word about length: the back tees are downright hostile: 7,138 yards, including eight two-shotters ranging from 404 to 457 yards, plus a pair of backbreaking par threes, the 241-yard 3rd and the 223-yard 12th, both boasting water as well as sand. It is not easy to imagine the members trooping back to the tips, where the course rating is 73.7. Today’s Spring Mill is a far cry from yesterday’s Bryn Llawen.