This is the fourth in a series of posts by The Scrambler (Kevin Lynch) who appears to have lost the will or ability to post under his own name. Putting that trivial element aside, the Scrambler is nothing if not a top-shelf bloodhound. His sleuthing first appeared this spring (http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,55850.0.html on golf club atlas. The next installment will appear here on Friday, July 5th.
WILLOWDALE DESIGNER – OE Smith or Willie Park?
With a new name, I consulted Cornish & Whitten and looked for Willowdale.
Lo & behold, there was an entry for “Willowdale CC at Buffalo (9) – O.E. Smith”
So, who was Orrin Edward Smith?
According to his biography in C&W, Orrin Smith (1883-1958) “began his career as a construction superintendent for Willie Park, Jr. on the Shuttle Meadow CC in New Britain, Connecticut).” The biography continued to state that Smith entered private practice as a course designer around 1925, which would have been approximately 4 years after the 1921 Willowdale inception. The “private practice” date also coincides with Willie Park’s death in 1925.
I also researched for any other involvement by Willie Park, Jr. in Western New York. The only course attributed to Park, Jr. is Moonbrook Country Club, located in Jamestown, NY (approx. 60 miles SW of Buffalo). Interestingly, Moonbrook was built in 1921, so Park’s presence in WNY during that year makes sense.
Here is a link to some history from the Moonbrook website which mentions Park: http://www.moonbrookcc.com/history.html
At this point, I assumed that there was some “Burbeck /Tilly” confusion in attribution between the builder and designer. Perhaps someone attributed this to Smith as Park’s construction superintendent.
But then I found the same April 1921 article that Joe started with. Expecting to find some reference to O.E. Smith, I was shocked to find that the construction work was done by the firm of “Harries & Hall.” Further, the article mentioned that “J. Larvey of Dayton, O(hio), a Donald Ross trained man” served as supervisor.
Based on this, I’m not sure how Willowdale was ever attributed to OE Smith, instead of Park, Jr., especially given Park’s attributed presence in Jamestown during the same period. I could understand how Harries might have been attributed, either as “builder” in 1921 or perhaps in a role during the expansion of the course in 1945 (coming out of hiatus from 1929-1945).
1945 was a time that Harries was busy building / designing courses (notably the adjacent Audubon courses in 1942). Given his prominence in Western New York and previous experience with the site in 1921 (while with Harries & Hall), and design of Audubon, his association with the Westwood iteration of the Club (1945-present) makes complete sense.
(Also, just to complete a game of “Six Degrees of William Harries,” the original 9 at Moonbrook is definitely Willie Park. But, the man credited for designing the second 9 at Moonbrook was none other than William Harries.)
At this point, I just needed to determine if any remnants of the Park, Jr. 9 holes still existed or if they were long gone. I wasn’t sure if Harries was contracted in 1945 to either expand the course, redesign it or perhaps even salvage the holes that may have been overgrown during the down time.
Luckily, the 1921 article included two critical clues to understand the original routing. I’ll dig into the routing mystery in my next post.