By Ken Love
For the mirror
This weekend, Summit Country Club will host its 29th annual Best Ball Tournament.
The Cresson area course began as a nine-hole course when it opened in 1923, but like many others it eventually expanded to a full 18-hole layout.
Summit’s expansion occurred during a period of economic prosperity in our country, the 1960s. During this prolific decade, more than half of the golf courses in our region were built.
In the early 1960s, Summit Country Club was fortunate to see local businessman Jack Calandra take a keen interest in golf.
During this time, Calandra was not only one of the best players at the club, he had also begun devoting a good deal of his time and effort to Summit Country Club.
As club president, Calandra was the driving force behind Summit’s expansion from nine to 18 holes, which began in 1966.
“Since everyone is going 18 holes, we had no choice but to jump on the bandwagon,” Calandra told Altoona Mirror sports editor Herb Werner when the project was completed in 1968.
By the end of the decade of the 1960s, an incredible 225 holes of golf had been built in our region, the equivalent of more than a dozen 18-hole courses (in comparison, the last 40 years have seen an average of only 18 new holes per decade).
The following list shows how important the golf train was in our region during the 1960s:
May 1961 – The Windber Country Club opens as the new nine-hole course in Cambria County, designed by Ed Ault.
June 1962 — The Iron Masters Country Club opens its new 18-hole, 6,623-yard course to the public. John Felus is head pro.
July 1963 – Sinking Valley Country Club opens as a nine-hole course. Ed DelBaggio is the club’s first pro.
July 1965 – Oakbrook Golf Course opens its new golf course in Stoystown, County Somerset.
April 1966 – Windber Country Club, near Johnstown, is upgraded from nine holes to a full 18-hole championship course.
May 1966 — Cambrian Hills opens its new nine-hole course in northern Cambria County. The initial green fee is $2.
June 1966 — State College Elks opens its new 18-hole course in Boalsburg. Lowell Erdman is the architect of the course.
April 1967 – Center Hills Country Club at State College opens its second nine, designed by world-renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Sr.
April 1967 — Sinking Valley expands to become an 18-hole course. Construction of the nine new holes is overseen by club superintendent George Ord.
June 1967 – Parks Hills Golf Club adds nine new holes, designed by course architect James Harrison.
July 1967 – River’s Bend Golf Course (now Down River) opens its new 18-hole course in Everett. The course designer is Xenophon Hassenplug.
April 1968 – State College’s Toftrees Country Club opens as an 18-hole course with Flynn Smith as the club’s first head pro.
June 1968 – After two years of restoration and reconstruction, the Immergrun Golf Course in Loretto is reopened by Saint Francis University. Bob Hahn is the club pro.
July 1968 — Summit Country Club adds nine new holes, designed by Ed Ault. (New holes include #6,7,11,12,13,14,15,16 and 17).
May 1969 – Penn State University adds the 18-hole blue course to complement its 1920s white course. The layout is designed by James Harrison.
June 1969 – Seven Springs Resort opens its new 18-hole course in Somerset County, designed by Xenophon Hassenplug.
July 1969 — After two years of work, the new Blairmont Club in Scotch Valley is complete.