Before the recent demise of Westwood Country Club (Sheridan & North Forest in Amherst), area golfers would be challenged to identify the last course to close in Buffalo-Niagara. Truth be told, we have no idea. Certainly, courses have shrunk (the 1912 US Open site at Main and Bailey is a shadow of its championship self, and the same can be said of Sheridan Park, home to the 1962 National Public Links championship) but closed and done with? No idea. There were at least two courses, however, that reached the planning stage but never came to be. Thanks to the digging of the Scrambler himself (Mr. Kevin Lynch), we have real-news evidence of two courses that almost came to be in western New York. Had they reached an opening day, folks might not have traveled to Rochester or Toronto to view true championship golf. In this first of two installments of Lost Golf In Buffalo, we’ll take a glance at Mossey Springs Club.
Mossey Springs had its greatest acknowledgement in the year 1922. The course was to be built east of Transit Road, somewhere in the vicinity of Main Street and Harris Hill, in what is now Clarence. The private club had retained the services of Charles Blair Macdonald, one of the great, early champions in American golf and a student of the great golf courses of the British isles. This piece could not do justice to CBM, as architecture aficionados reference him, so travel to the Golf Club Atlas site and scroll 1/3 of the way down the Architecture Timeline page. You’ll find a great intro to the man and his courses. BuffaloGolfer covered the 2013 Walker Cup matches at Macdonald’s masterpiece, the National Golf Links of America. In addition to being one of the more exclusive clubs in the USA, NGLA is also home to the greatest collection of template holes. All right, we’ll give one bit of introduction. Template holes were Macdonald’s homage to those great golf courses of Great Britain and Ireland.
At some point, care of Mossey Springs was turned over to CBM’s right-hand man, the civil engineer Seth Raynor. Continue to scroll down the Golf Club Atlas page linked above, and you’ll find Raynor. Macdonald gave up designing courses and Raynor died quite young, in 1925. Why exactly the Mossey Springs Club never came to be is uncertain. At some point, its name was changed to Mossy Springs, then Glen Brook, and also Glen Acres. What can be surmised is that the land along Harris Hill Road would have been ideal for an interesting club. The rise and fall along the escarpment, while not as dramatic as the land along Youngs Road (where the country club of Buffalo built its third and final golf course) would certainly have offered intriguing options for these two masters of golf course construction.
The only knock on Macdonald and Raynor was the nature of the courses they designed: private. Unless you know someone, you won’t simply walk up to the starter and say Hello, good man. When’s the next open time? That said, if you want to play the course badly enough, you’ll find a (legal) way. Although we did not get to play the NGLA course referenced above, three days of spectating gave us intimate knowledge that one round never would have afforded. Chances are excellent that Mossey Springs would have become one of the top two clubs in the area, with the Donald Ross-designed country club of Buffalo being the other. Given that the Ross course hosted the 1962 National Girls championship, one might have expected similar (if not greater) events for Mossey Springs.
We’ve guessed that the club might have moved north and east, and became Brookfield (originally known as Meadow Brook) but that’s an absolute shot in the dark. The folks we’ve interview at the Clarence private club have no knowledge of any involvement by Macdonald or Raynor. In any case, it’s an intriguing mystery and one that (hopefully) won’t have you waking at night, in a cold sweat, screaming What If? or If Only! To learn more about the Mossey Springs legend, check out the two PDFs linked below.