Fox Hill Country Club
|Fox Hill Country Club|
454 Tunkhannock Avenue
Exeter, PA 18643
Architect: A.W. Tillinghast
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Impromptu discussions about the feasibility of a country club for Pittston (Luzerne County, just about halfway between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre) took place at a number of small, informal gatherings prior to the war and then in the months following the Armistice. The movement gathered momentum early in 1920 and finally crystallized at a meeting held in Pittston on May 25,1920. Present were the following: Joseph Aschenbrand, Charles Berry, Charles Craig, C. P. Delahanty, W. M. Fay, Frank M. Foy, M.J. Frey, T. A. Gibbons, Dr. E. M. Holmes, W. E. Kearney, W. J. Kilgallen, Robert W. Langford, Dr. H. J. Lenahan, J. O’D. Mangan, Max Markus, H. J. Mullin, Sigmund Samuels, M. Schlosser, W. C. Sutherland, Dr. S. L. Underwood, A. T. Walsh, and K. P. Wilde.
A site selection committee and a membership committee were appointed. Both went to work with a will. Encouragingly, it soon became apparent that the interest in joining was scarcely confined to residents of Pittston; there were many from Scranton and Wilkes-Barre who found Fox Hill Country Club a very appealing opportunity.
Almost a month after the May 25 meeting, and after exploring a number of possibilities, the club chose its site, a rolling tract with an abundance of trees in what is now called Exeter. That was on June 23. On August 2, Scottish-born John Reid was retained to lay out and build a nine-hole course, which, most of the founding members believed, would surely be sufficient to meet the club’s needs for many years to come.
The first official meeting of the membership was held on September 24,1920, with 43 members on hand. Then it was that a permanent organization was established and that the club’s first officers and first board of governors was elected. Named to the key posts were Frank M. Foy, president; William J. Peck, vice president; Robert W. Langford, secretary; and W. C. Sutherland, treasurer. Joining these four men on the board of governors were Joseph Aschenbrand, W.M. Fay, W.E. Kearney, W. J. Kilgallen, J. L. Peck, and A. T. Walsh.
In the weeks that followed, with progress on the construction of the course now something tangible, something to be seen and savored by all who envisioned themselves taking up the game, interest in joining Fox Hill escalated sharply. By the end of this, the founding year— and with the nine holes still four or five months from completion—the club could point to a roster of 232 members.
On April 29, 1921, the course officially opened for play. Seven months later, on Thanksgiving Day, the clubhouse, which had been under construction for some months, welcomed its first members. By that time, however, it was already obvious that the nine-hole course was inadequate. Congestion had become a serious problem, particularly on weekends. A year later, A.W. Tillinghast was commissioned to lay out and build a second nine and to remodel the existing first nine.
The Tillinghast eighteen opened in the summer of 1924. Representing not only an enormous step beyond the rather unsophisticated Reid nine but also the work of one of the country’s four or five most esteemed course architects, it was wholeheartedly embraced by the membership. Now they could boast of a full eighteen, one of championship length (some 6,400 yards) and replete with challenge. As for the mine caves, whether come upon in the fairway or the rough, they offered the player a free lift (a local rule one would certainly expect at a founding club of the Anthracite Golf Association).
Fox Hill, like virtually every club, would have to struggle to keep its head above water during the Depression. Fortunately, it had John A. Allan, a wealthy businessman, to lead the crusade. Allan served as president through the very depths of the Depression—1935,1936,1937—determined to see to it, by dint of his personal resources, his influence in the community, and his force of character, that Fox Hill would remain a functioning private country club. With the support of a loyal though reduced membership, he was successful.
Of more than passing interest is the fact that precisely 75 years after its founding. Fox Hill Country Club would, in 1995, become a member of the Golf Association of Philadelphia.