They paved paradise and put up a parking lot...
- Joni Mitchell, 'Big Yellow Taxi'
It seems a bit sad that the final fate of a golf course can be summed up by a lyric from a Joni Mitchell song. But that is indeed the case when considering the final chapter for the former Parkview Golf Course in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
In November 2005, the course closed to the public. Portions of the course are now an overflow parking for the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex.
In the 1920s, Milton S Hershey directed the construction of a golf course near Hershey Park. The site was near several limestone quarries which supplied the building materials for the old course clubhouse which is used as Hershey Entertainment and Resorts corporate offices.
The Hershey Park Golf Course opened in 1930, and was designed by famed golf course architect Maurice McCarthy who also designed the Hershey Country Club's West Course, the 9-hole Spring Creek Golf Course and the Hotel Hershey Course. The Hershey Park Golf Course was his first effort in Hershey and featured a challenging 18 holes with lots of changes in elevation and a meandering stream.
In the 1970s the course's name was changed to 'Parkview Golf Course'. At 6,332 yards, the par-71 course featured traditional narrow fairways and was consistently ranked among the top public courses in south-central Pennsylvania. Renamed the Country Club on Hershey - South Course, it was managed by American Golf Company from 1994 until 2002. Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company bought it back from American Golf Company, renaming it Parkview Golf Course. Then in 2005, the course closed forever.
As a tribute, we have included a listing of the 18 holes of the former Parkview Golf Course at the time of its demise.
- Number 1 (Par 4) - Nice and straight. This hole would make you feel comfortable to start a round. To the left was a pretty steep slope but shots to the right were an easy punch shot back into play through the pine trees. Hitting over the green sent you down a steep bank with very thick grass.
- Number 2 (Par 3) - This 107-yard par 3 was short but demanded that a player avoid the waters of Spring Creek which travels directly under the flight of the ball and cut in front of the green. It was rated second-easiest on the course.
- Number 3 (Par 4) - The tee shot required you to cross the creek right in front of the tee box, but the hole itself was long and straight. Pretty weeping willows lined the right side of the fairway. Shots to the left resulted in going out of bounds into a dark forest. After heavy rains, the fairway often became saturated and was a bit tricky, prompting experienced players to intentionally hit into the rough.
- Number 4 (Par 4) - The stream crossed directly in front of the tees box and the sound of the water flowing over the rocks in the stream bed caused a few errant shots. The landing area was a bit narrow with a steep slope with tall grass on the right into which balls seemed to disappear.
- Number 5 (Par 3) - Mentally, this hole seemed more difficult that it really was as it forces you to hit straight up a steep hill to the green. The flag stick was 12-feet high so you were able to see where the green was located, but if you made the mistake of playing to the pin, your shots would be well short.
- Number 6 (Par 4) - This 340-yard hole was one of the easiest on the course. A good drive and a reasonable approach shot would leave you putting for birdie. The only real trouble was a line of trees along the right side of the fairway and a series of bunkers around the green.
- Number 7 (Par 4) - A relatively easy 370-yard hole that rewarded a long, straight drive off the tee, it was located right in front of the clubhouse. Players who get nervous when people are watching you tee off always had trouble here.
- Number 8 (Par 4) - This 400-yard par 4 seemed straightforward, but it had a couple of hidden trouble spots. The first was a depression in the middle of the fairway about 200 yards out that caused you to have a blind second shot to the green. Shots to the right off the tee, sent your ball out of bounds over a cliff. More trouble lurked in front of the green in the form of a cart path which leads to a maintenance shed causing short shots to bounce in unpredictable fashion.
- Number 9 (Par 5) - This par 5 was the most difficult hole on the course. From the tee it required exactly 260 yards down a hill to the water - if you hit it long you were in the creek and if you were short you couldn't see the green. If the first shot was safe, it forced you to take a long second shot to the green which was protected by a stream that cuts right in front. However, laying up was just as dicey because there was only a small peninsula to land on where the stream turns back upon itself. Par here was always a great score; most players were happy with a bogie.
- Number 10 (Par 4) - The tee box for this hole was perched atop a hill beside the old course clubhouse which now serves as Hershey Entertainment and Resorts corporate offices. This was another tricky hole off the tee because you hit across a very deep valley to the fairway. Otherwise, it was a pretty straightforward 360-yard par 4.
- Number 11 (Par 3) - After two tricky holes, this 164-yard par 3 was a breath of fresh air. It was by far the easiest hole on the course. If you could avoid hitting it long and down a cliff toward the creek, you would be in great shape for a birdie.
- Number 12 (Par 4) - A fairly difficult 344 yards, this hole required you to hit across the creek to the valley below. A good tee shot put you in line for an easy approach. If you didn't hit the tee shot well, you were in for lots of trouble.
- Number 13 (Par 4) - After a steep climb to the tee box, players were rewarded with a good look at this 350-yard par 4. You hit across the stream and up a gently rising slope. The green was hidden and to the right at the top of that slope.
- Number 14 (Par 4) - This 300-yard hole required a straight tee shot back down the slope you just came up. If you hooked the tee shot to the left, you would find yourself in the fairway at No. 15; a slice to the right put you on the fairway at No. 13. This hole gave up a lot of birdies to accurate players.
- Number 15 (Par 5) - At 470 yards, this was a short par 5, but was it very tricky. The tee shot had to clear a small rise and land at the foot of a large hill. The second had to go up the face of the hill and into the fairway which you cannot see. From there you were still a long way from the green. A lot of players tried to cut the corner and play through or over the woods to the right - we never saw anyone do it successfully.
- Number 16 (Par 4) - This birdie-maker was only 283 yards straight downhill. It was a great way to help out your score if you got into a lot of trouble on the last hole.
- Number 17 (Par 4) - This 426-yard par 4 shared a tee area with Number 13. Out-of-bounds ran close down the entire left side of this fairway which itself bent slightly to the left.
- Number 18 (Par 4) - At 279 yards, this hole was the shortest par 4 on the course and was a great way to end your day on a high note. The fairway bent to the left at about 200 yards. The green was surrounded by bunkers so accuracy on the approach really counted.
An Entry about a Closed Golf Course?
When this Entry was first published, the course was a thriving part of the community. Now it is an overflow parking lot.
The decision to close the course caused a firestorm of controversy in the Hershey community. Many living there view Milton S Hershey's creations as sacrosanct. Letters to the editor of the local newspapers were filled with indignation and shouts of sacrilege.
Indeed, many local residents view the closing of this course as a further chipping away of the legacy Milton Hershey left behind for his community. As Joni Mitchell said:
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone...