News

Last Update :7/27/2021

Reimagining of Belmont Gives Classic Course a New Purpose

Reimagining of Belmont Gives Classic Course a New Purpose

The Richmond, Va., course, originally designed by A.W. Tillinghast, found new life when the The First Tee of Greater Richmond stepped in to save it from ruin.

JIM DUCIBELLA

 

Belmont Golf Course, once known as Hermitage Country Club, hosted the 1949 PGA Championship that was won by Virginia native Sam Snead. 

The Drone Co. RVA/First Tee – Greater Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — Tommy Galloway died long before teaching golf to juniors became an industry crusade, long before there were programs and facilities dedicated to that challenge. But Galloway, who served as head professional at Belmont Golf Course from 1928 until his death in 1954, would no doubt approve of what his old club has become.

Then known as Hermitage Country Club, Galloway presided over a course designed by two of the five architects in the World Golf Hall of Fame: A.W. Tillinghast in 1917 and Donald Ross 10 years later. One of only two Tillinghast courses to host a major and be open for public play, joining Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in New York, Tillinghast wrote that the Virginia land was “more pleasing than any I’ve seen south of the Mason-Dixon Line.”

No one dared argue.

Not the PGA Tour, which in 1945 staged the Richmond Invitational at Hermitage, won by Ben Hogan (first prize: $2,000 in War Bonds). Not the PGA of America, which held its 1949 championship there, won by folksy native son Sam Snead over Johnny Palmer, 3-and-2. It remains the only club in Virginia to host one of golf’s majors.

That history was of secondary interest to Galloway. A junior champion in Scotland, a mustard gas attack during World War I ravaged his lungs and his hopes for a playing career. Galloway came to Richmond fueled by a unique cause.

“He was very passionate about teaching junior golfers,” said Frank Flannagan, a former Belmont course superintendent, “and ahead of his time. If the game was going to grow, he knew you had to reach juniors. It was his top priority.”

Related: Have Clubs Will Travel: Belmont Golf Course

In 1937, Galloway instituted the city’s father-son tournament. Eighty-four years later, the event still carries his name and is an essential part of the Richmond golf scene. When Hermitage sold its property to Henrico County in 1977, and moved to the suburbs, it took Galloway’s tournament with it. Henrico County renamed its purchase “Belmont” after the farm on which the course sat.

Ultimately, Flannagan recalled, the cost to maintain the municipal course escalated and the county’s interest in doing so waned. Tillinghast’s jewel became a money pit in deep decline.

The county considered turning the course into a recreational park or selling the land to a commercial developer. But a grassroots movement called Preserve Belmont began collecting signatures on petitions and appearing before various commissions and boards. Henrico officials listened, put out a Request for Proposal, and sifted through a half-dozen candidates.

With time running out to submit bids, The First Tee of Greater Richmond pledged $5.1 million, partnered with the Love Golf Design — created by Hall of Famer Davis Love III, winner of 21 PGA Tour events, including the 1997 PGA; brother Mark Love; and chief design architect Scot Sherman — and won a 20-year contract to remake and operate the course.

First Tee-Richmond CEO Brent Schneider titled his proposal, “Where the History of American Golf Meets Its Future.” The nonprofit organization would provide an inviting place for youngsters to learn the basics and put their lessons into practice. It also would provide golfers of all skill levels a chance to experience some of Tillinghast’s most inspired work.

But that would be impossible if Belmont remained 18 holes.

Gone are six holes of the original 18, replaced by a wedge range, a practice range, a six-hole short course that pays homage to Tillinghast’s par 3s, and The Ringer, a 31,000-square-foot putting course whose 12 feet of elevation change could pass for a ride at Busch Gardens theme park down the road in Williamsburg. The course, which opened in late May, has been warmly received for its design and futuristic approach.

“We’ve put some new life into Belmont,” Davis Love said on opening day. “We’ve given it a new purpose.”

On a recent 95-degree day, 24 young boys were practicing on the wedge range. Another 27 slightly older girls were headed to a different part of the range. Every First Tee summer camp is sold out, and Schneider estimated that 400 juniors will attend — the majority of whom would never have visited Belmont were it not for the kid-friendly offerings. Meanwhile, golfers of all ages and skills filled its fairways.

The 12-hole course can be played from five different tees, stretching its yardage from 3,020 to 4,345. It features back-to-back par 5s, two par 3s, bunkers that serve parallel holes, and greens restored in size and undulation to their initial specs. Love Golf Design used aerial photos and exhaustive research to faithfully replicate Tillinghast’s original plan.

“This is the future of golf,” Davis Love said. “Anybody who comes here needs to see that you don’t have to play 18 holes and take four or five hours to play.”

Several sweltering days later, a man stood on the tee of the par-3 7th hole using a deck-of-cards-sized camera to snap photos of a green complex 165 yards away. He was visiting Richmond from Greenville, N.C., and playing the course for the first time with his adult son.

“Frankly, twelve is all the holes I need,” he said.

How The First Tee came up with $5.1 million on short notice is a story unto itself. An anonymous benefactor, a friend of Schneider’s, invited him to Birdwood Golf Course in Charlottesville in 2019. Sherman was heading Love Golf Design’s work on the course.

On their way home, Schneider mentioned that The First Tee was interested in Belmont, but radical changes would have to be made if the contract was won.

“Like what?” the soon-to-be benefactor asked. 

“Maybe we could restore 14, maybe 12 holes . . .” Schneider started to reply.

“Are you kidding me?” the man interrupted. “I’ve been telling my friends for years that I want to build a 12-hole course, a place with really good par 3s, really good par 5s, where you hit every club in your bag.

“I’m very interested.”

Within two weeks, they met again, pitched their idea to Love Golf Design, and money was committed. A plaque on the 12-hole course designates 20 people and corporations as “restoration partners.”

“The way it happened,” Schneider said, “it was like a gift from above.”

TAGS

BELMONT GOLF COURSEA.W. TILLINGHASTVIRGINIA GOLF COURSESDONALD ROSS

BY

 JIM DUCIBELLA



[ More News ]


Join NGCOA Mid-Atlantic - Great Membership Benefits!

Transparency at Private Clubs

The Golf Pro Crisis & Its Impact on Clubs

Golf Property Analysts - Your Club's Tax Assessment

Hilda Allen - the source for golf course sales and advising owners

NGCOA Mid-Atlantic Annual Meeting Set for Nov. 2 at Independence GC in Richmond

Fairfax County Park Authority seeks Golf Course General Manager

Announcing Facility BMP Virtual Workshop and Prize Contest

Another Beautiful Listing by Hilda Allen Real Estate!

Just Listed by Hilda Allen - The Frog GC in Georgia, a Fazio Design

National Golf Day 2022 - Information and Registration

Mattaponi Springs Golf Club in Ruther Glen, VA Seeks General Manager

Larry's Interview on TurfNet Renovation report Podcast

Golf Leagues - A Lightspeed Guide to Growing Business

Register your course for Women's Golf Day - June 7th

Download the Pellucid Presentation at the Annual Meeting

Golf Property Analysts - Time to Sell?

New Listings and Recent Sales from Hilda Allen Real Estate

Hanover Golf Club sold to unidentified local buyer

Club Master Planning - A Market Based Approach

January Abstract OtR: '21 Sol Scorecard is 6 birdies, 2 pars!

Damon DeVito Named the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Golf Leader

Golf Course Acquisition Opportunity - Maryland - For Sale By Auction

Sep Weather, Aug Util; steady, solid results against strong "20 comps"

Employee Retention Tax Credit May Save You Thousands $

Glenwood Golf Course redevelopment gets planning commission approval

Google's New "Local" Ads Provide Big Advantages to Golf Courses

The Appraisal Journal - Valuation of Private Clubs for Tax Assessments

Morning Read and Sports Illustrated Announce Editorial Partnership

Partner News: Richard Mandell Architecture "Form and Function" Summer 2021

Women's Golf Day 2021 Sets New Global Records

Is it Time to Review Your Golf Property Tax Assessment?

Golf Industry Unites Around Momentum, DEI Collaboration during 2021 National Golf Day

Spring Issue Mid-Atlantic Golf Business Joint with North Carolina GCOA

Lake Presidential Golf Club in Upper Marlboro, MD Recently Sold

Chesdin Landing homeowners sue over assessments to fund golf course

Golf Property Values, The Right # of Members and Tom Bennison

NGCOA CEO Jay Karen Joins U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors

2020 Excellence in Club Management Award Winners Announced

PGA Tour Superstore Teams up to Become Official Retailer for Women's Golf Day

Three VA golf courses sell to maximize the 2020 golf course sales year at Smith Mountain Lake

Chambers Acquires Golf Business Advisors

Nov Golf Playable Hours/October Utilization are off the chart!

Fairfax County Park Authority Names New Director of Golf Operations

Oct Weather unusually flat, September Utilization continues to impress!

Chip Shots - Adaptability, Necessity & Joe Krenn shares his thoughts

Public Golf Leader Award - Golden Horseshoe Golf Club

Mid-Atlantic Golf Leader Award - Henry Wallmeyer

Sustainability Leader - US Naval Academy Golf Club

Private Golf Leader Award - Elizabeth Manor Golf & Country Club

We Can Help Your Club

​Is it time to review your property tax assessment?

VSGA granted 501 (c) (3) status by IRS

NATIONAL LINKS TRUST SIGNS LEASE WITH NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Aquisition Opportunity | Lake Presidential Golf Club

How Can We Help Your Club?

Golf Property Analysts - your "go to" for help with effects of the pandemic

Special Report from NGCOA - The Golf Industry's Participation in PPP

NGF Report - Equipment bouncing back, golf travel still grounded

Farmington’s Johnson Recognized Nationally

Up to Par Management Renews its Support of NGCOA MA

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

VISA & MasterCard Class Action Suit Update

NGCOA Announces Award Winners for 2020

Richmond Tour Event at CCV is #1

NBC Sports buys Chicago golf-booking company

VGM Club Changes Name to ClubProcure

End of Year Review: Business Intelligence

CIB: Where Clubs Meet Member Needs

The Latest News For You

Golf Course Opportunities

NGCOA Offers Members Hospitality Training and Resources Through New Partnership

End of Year Review: Pro Shop KPIs

Oct Perspective: Debunking Supply Begets Demand

Golf retailer Club Champion swings into Short Pump

To Barter Or Not To Barter: THAT is the opportunity cost question

Topgolf tees off in Richmond

What you need to know about late fall golf trips

Upgrade Your Employee Benefits Solution with NGCOA Insurance Benefits

Golf Course Opportunities

Access Resources from NGCOA MA Annual Meeting - presentation decks & more - click here

Godzilla vs. Gorilla for the Golf Course Win!

WOTUS Repealed

Episode 30 of the NGCOA Golf Business Podcast

Drive Shack to be first-to-market in Richmond ahead of Topgolf

Exempting the "Golf Teaching Professionals"

Recession?, Member Appreciation, Refurbish?

CIB: Why Wyles Won the Excellence in Club Management Award

New Course Owners And Homeowners Save Skybrook Golf Community

Aug Perspective, Are Merchant Fees Barter 2.0?

Golf Business Podcast: Save money, make money

Giles' Kinloch gem receives touch-up

The Jay Karen Story

Mid-Atlantic Golf Business Newsletter now available - click here

Increase Membership Sales: E-commerce Tool

Obedience training for the "dog days" of summer

How Non-Golfers view Golf, Market Intelligence & Design Features that Matter

Need an Exit Strategy for your Club or Golf Course?

Ropes Course Rising on Outskirts of Independence Golf Club in Richmond!

The Highland Course at Primland Ranked Among Top Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest

Branding, Club Tax Assessments & Course Rankings

NGCOA Partners with First American Payment Systems

PGA of America Becomes NGCOA Executive Partner

Poplar Grove Golf Club Completes Phase 1 of Planned Renovations

Kitchen Cocktail Parties at CCV

KemperSports-Managed Properties Earn Top Honors

Golf & Club Tax Assessments - Did you know?

Hurricane Season is Upon Us...Is Your Business Prepared?

Golf & Club Tax Assessments

National Golf Day, Drones Save $, RE Tax Confusion & More

Reston National Golf Course sold to pair of Baltimore developers

Industry Around the Globe Unites in Support of Women's Golf Day

Golf Industry Comes Together for 12th Annual National Golf Day

Golf Complex Recognized as Billy Casper Golf's 'Best of the Best'

Golf Digest Names Yamaha the Best Gas-powered Club Car for 3rd Consecutive Year

Royal New Kent Golf Club Reopens after 18-month Hiatus

CIB: How Today's Clubs Keep Up with the Times

Clubhouses, Changes in Tax Assessments and Golf Property Acquisition Opportunities

Meet the Veteran Golfers Association

DOL Issues New Proposed Overtime Rule

Excellence in Club Management: Patrick King, CCM, CCE, ECM

Selling Your Golf Course? Think GPA.

Visa/Mastercard $6B Class Action Lawsuit Update

NCA Webinar: Managing Your Club's Real Estate Tax Assessment

Mid-Atlantic Golf Business Winter Newsletter

Congress Approves Increase in H-2B Visas

Another Local Golf Course Sold, This Time for $1.2M

Golf Course Owners You May Be Eligible to Share in $6B Class Action Settlement

NEW! NGCOA Member Benefit: Insurance

The MAJOR of Golf Business

Area Golf Course Sold for $800,000

Troon Named "Management Company of the Year" for 5th Consecutive Year

BOYNE GOLF - Heather Named NGCOA National Course of the Year

Billy Casper Golf Celebrates 4th Decade Unmatched in Industry Innovation

Topgolf's Richmond Property Sold to Investment Firm

Golf Life Navigators Partners with Jeff Fleishman to Drive VA Expansion

Virginia Golf Has It All

 



Join Our Email List