Founded in 1920 by 16 Bethlehem, Pa., business leaders, including a core group from Bethlehem Steel, Saucon Valley Country Club has grown from a modest 18-hole facility to one of the largest private clubs in the country.
Today, the club features three 18-hole layouts and a six-hole short course to go along with other amenities such as tennis, swimming and squash.
In 1920, the founding members acquired 205 acres of farmland along the Saucon Creek to create an 18-hole layout, which is now the Old Course. Herbert Strong, who hailed from Royal St. George’s in England, designed the course. His other most notable U.S. designs include Canterbury Golf Club near Cleveland, site of the 1940 and 1946 U.S. Opens and the 1964 and 1979 U.S. Amateurs, and Engineers Club in Roslyn, N.Y., site of the 1920 U.S. Amateur.
The Old Course has undergone minor revisions through the years by William Gordon, Perry Maxwell and, most recently, Tom Marzolf of the Fazio Group.
The 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur will be the seventh USGA championship conducted on the Old Course, following the 1951 U.S. Amateur (Billy Maxwell), 1983 U.S. Junior Amateur (Tim Straub), 1987 USGA Senior Amateur (John Richardson), the 1992 and 2000 U.S. Senior Opens, won by Larry Laoretti and Hale Irwin, respectively, and the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, in which Eun-Hee Ji holed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to edge Candie Kung by a stroke.
In 1957, the father-son tandem of William and David Gordon completed the Grace Course, which is named after Eugene Gifford Grace, long considered the club’s patriarch. It was Grace who chose Strong to design the original 18-hole course.
A few years later, Saucon Valley annexed the Weyhill Course, which will serve as the companion stroke-play qualifying course for the Mid-Amateur. Also designed by William and David Gordon, the Weyhill Course opened in 1968.
The Gordons incorporated the unique features of the property, including an abandoned quarry,into the Weyhill layout. Originally a dairy farm owned by a Bethlehem Steel executive, the property was sold to Quincy Bent, who named it Weyhill Farms after his ancestral English farming village in the County of Hampshire.
In 1970, the course briefly was renamed Bent Creek Golf Course after the Bent family and Saucon Creek, but reverted back to Weyhill two years later.
Weyhill’s par-3 14th hole requires a carry over the quarry to a dramatically sloping green, while the par-4 15th might remind some of Pine Valley’s second hole, with its uphill approach to an elevated green guarded by bunkers set into the hillside.