Hershey, Pennsylvania is home to five golf courses with a total of 72 holes covering more than 425 acres. It is said that on a per capita basis, Hershey has more golf courses than anywhere else in the world.
But how did this little hamlet in southcentral Pennsylvania come to be such a haven for golfers?
The answer lies with the town's founder, Milton S. Hershey. Though only an occasional golfer himself, Hershey wanted to provide wholesome entertainment options for the workers at his chocolate factory who populated his company town.
For his own amusement and as a taste of things to come, a nine-hole links course was built in 1910 between the chocolate factory and Hershey's mansion. But for the community's first 'serious' golf course, Hershey appointed his head engineer Harry Herr to design a course atop Pat's Hill north of town.
Herr was the engineer who managed the town's railway, tunnel, dam and reservoir projects. Unfortunately, his experience as a golf course designer was rather lacking and the hilly course proved impossible for most golfers to play. The 18-hole course was scrapped and would later serve as the site for the Hotel Hershey.
After this abortive first attempt, Hershey hired the renowned Scottish golf course architect Maurice McCarthy to design a course for the community. But even McCarthy's first plans were rejected by Hershey as they were proposed for a piece of prime farmland. Hershey then directed McCarthy's efforts to a spot south and west of Hershey Park which had been used as a construction dumping ground and limestone quarry.
Hershey Park Golf Course
Completed in 1929, the 18-hole, par 71 Hershey Park Golf Course opened to the public in 1930. A limestone clubhouse named the Parkview Building was constructed at the same time. At its opening a round of golf at the Hershey Park Golf Course cost $1 during the week and $1.50 at weekends.
The course was renamed in the 1970s the Parkview Golf Course. In 1980 a new clubhouse was built for the course and the Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company moved into the old clubhouse, using the building as its corporate offices. The Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company and its predecessor the Hershey Estates managed the course except for an eight-year period from 1994-2002 when American Golf Corporation purchased the course and renamed it 'Country Club of Hershey - South Course'. When Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company resumed operation of the course in 2002, its name reverted to Parkview Golf Course. In November 2005, the course closed to the public to allow for overflow parking from the Hersheypark complex.
Hershey Country Club's West Course
After completing the Hershey Park Golf Course, McCarthy was immediately given another challenge - building an 18-hole course which incorporated Hershey's original nine-hole links course into a country club for the recreation and enjoyment of Hershey's friends and managers in his companies.
At a party at his Highpoint Mansion on 27 April, 1930, Hershey announced that he was donating the home to be used as the clubhouse for the Hershey Country Club1. He then instructed his 100-plus guests to look under their plates where their charter membership cards were located.
The par 73 Hershey Country Club West Course was managed by the Hershey Estates and later by Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company except for an eight-year period from 1994-2002 when it was purchased by the American Golf Company and renamed 'Country Club of Hershey - West Course'. Since 2002 it has been known as Hershey Golf Club - West Course.
Hershey Juvenile Course
McCarthy's work still wasn't finished. With two courses designed in Hershey, he was given the task of creating a juvenile golf course for the children of country club members and the caddies of the other courses.
The nine-hole, par 33 course was the first of its kind in the US and a round of golf cost 35 cents. The course also included a log cabin style clubhouse which is still in use today. Renamed the Spring Creek Golf Course in 1969, the course was opened to adults as well as children.
Hotel Hershey Course
In 1934, a nine-hole par 34 golf course was built on the grounds next to the Hotel Hershey for the exclusive use of its guests. Designed by McCarthy, this was the last golf course in town built by MS Hershey.
The course managed by American Golf Company from 1994-2002, but is now managed again by Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company and is known as The Hotel Hershey Nine-Hole Golf Course.
Hershey Country Club's East Course
This 18-hole, par 71 course was designed by George Fazio in 1970 and it has served as host to the Pennsylvania State Junior Tournament and US Open Qualifying Tournaments for more than 20 years. Since 1999, it has been a stop on the PGA's Buy.com Tour and before that it hosted the PGA's Nike Open Tour for two years.
The Hershey Country Club's East Course was also renamed when American Golf Company purchased it from Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company in 1994, calling it the 'Country Club of Hershey - East Course'. In 2002, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts bought the course back from American Golf and renamed it Hershey Golf Club - East Course.