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BIRMINGHAM COUNTRY CLUB HISTORY

"As president and club historian of Birmingham Country Club, I read with interest your (Michigan Golfer) coverage of Tom Bendelow and Donald Ross.  Over the past four years, I have been writing a series of articles on the history of BCC.  For references, I have used earlier articles published by previous BCC historians as well as the excellent reference book, "The Golf Course", by Geoffrey S. Cornish and Ronald E. Whitten. 

There are discrepancies between "The Golf Course" and some of our club's records.  At one time, we thought BCC was a Donald Ross design and were confident enough of this to indicate it on our score cards.  However, my studies would seem to show that BCC was a Tom Bendelow design with the first nine layed out in 1916 and the second in 1920. You indicate William Connellan did our first nine in 1916 and William Diddel the second in 1920.  Our records show that William Connellan had worked for Ross as a foreman and later teamed up with Wilfred Reid, an Englishman.  They re-modeled BCC in 1928; BCC underwent another revision in the 30's when 5-time Indiana Amateur Champion and golf course architect, William Diddel, was called in. We also know that Robert Trent Jones, Sr. did work on the course prior to our hosting of the 1953 PGA. This involved sand traps and treatment of rough.  The father/son team of Bruce and Jerry Matthews did some work in 1963 and we did bring in Art Hills in 1984 and he remains our golf course consultant. It's always interesting to learn something more about our golf course.   

Cordially, Howard Johnson"

*Howard, your article on BCC reflects the frustrations and challenges of doing historical research and writings on golf courses. When we began to look at the history of Michigan courses in the May 1999 issue of the Michigan Golfer http://webgolfer.com/april99/HISTORY.html we quickly learned how difficult a task it was going to be.

When we wrote about the 1911-1920 decade of courses, we started off by traveling to Muskegon Country Club to investigate the first Michigan golf course designed by Donald Ross. In his book, "Golf Has Never Failed Me", Ross listed Muskegon CC as a course he had done in 1911. We thought it would be a great way to kick off that decade. However, when we arrived at the club, we were presented with a letter that Donald Ross had written to the club president. The letter, postmarked in November of 1920 indicated the changes he suggested for the course. It seems that the course had actually been designed by Tom Bendlelow in 1911, not Ross. Thanks for your feedback and we will post your BCC article in our Michigan Golf History Archives at http://michigangolfer.com/history.html

*Ed.


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