York, Pa.: America’s first capital of golf?

Golf courses in York County may turn from green to black, as in asphalt.
Residential builders want to cover over some or all of Copper Beach, Heritage Hills, Springwood, Honey Run and Hawk Lake courses. The same beautiful land that makes up these courses is appealing to developers.
This isn’t the first time that development has sprouted up on a York County golf course.
In fact, it happened to the county’s first course. The Springdale section of York and York College of Pennsylvania cover the county’s initial course dating back to the 1890s — or perhaps before. Then as now, the sand traps gave way to the cement mixer because a growing population made the land more valuable for other purposes.
The names of luminaries Grier Hersh and A.B. Farquhar were connected with this south York course, as the following excerpt from “Never to be Forgotten” points out:

Golf course attracts players
York businessman Grier Hersh constructs a nine-hole golf course, complete with bunkers, in present-day Springdale. The course is the county’s first. (One source places construction in the 1870s.) The course consists of nine holes covering 2, 281 yards. Duffers use wooden clubs and gutta percha balls, made from a rubberlike gum extracted from trees. Farquhar, whose home is nearby on land now occupied by Farquhar Estates, writes: “When I first saw the game I regarded the idea of rational men leaving their business and walking over a field to hit a ball with a stick as being quite absurd, but Mr. Hersh invited me to try a round with him. Within ten minutes after we commenced, I was infatuated with it. Your troubles all vanish and you think of nothing else. I used to leave my office and drive to his golf course nearly every afternoon to play a round, and now I have a golf course on my place.” Hersh started something with his 32-par course. The county counted 19 golf courses, including 11 championship courses by 1993. York County Golf Promotions Inc. tagged the county “America’s First Capital of Golf,” and several new courses have been constructed in the past five years. It claimed the county had more courses per capita than any other U.S. community, except Myrtle Beach, S.C. Hersh, long-time president of York Bank, is connected with the founding of the Country Club of York. The club plays host to one of the county’s oldest courses.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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