A Rich History
Golf has been played at this Bethlehem location since 1898, when a 9-hole course first opened to the public. Bethlehem was already well known as a splendid resort destination, with more than 30 hotels and guest houses to accommodate summer visitors. These visitors, both men and women, were anxious to try the new game of golf. At that time, one could play golf for the entire summer for $5.00!
By 1909, because of the tremendous success of the golf course, the Bethlehem Park Association commissioned a young Scottish architech, Donald Ross, to expand the layout. Probably best known for his courses in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Donald Ross redesigned and expanded the course to 18 holes. The Bethlehem course represented Ross's first contract in New Hampshire. He would later plan or alter a dozen courses in the state, and more than 500 in his career. By 1910 the new layout was open.
In addition to its famous architect, BCC has had its share of some of the greatest players of early American golf. Players such as Walter Hagan, Joe Kirkwood, Gene Sarazen, Walter Travis, John McDermott, and Harry Vardon have teed it up on the BCC links. LPGA players Fay Crocker and Hall-of-Famer Betty Jameson have also played the course.
The Town of Bethlehem purchased the course in 1949 and has owned it ever since. The course has seen many changes in that time and continues to improve. One very successful program has been the Junior Golf program. Begun in 1968 under then-BCC professional Fred Ghioto, the Juniors program provides area youngsters with free lessons, playing time, and tournaments at the course.
Today's staff looks forward to guiding BCC into its third century of providing outstanding golf to area residents and visitors.
Donald Ross and Walter Hagan photos, along with historical research are courtesy of Bob Labbance.
His book, "The Centennial History of the Bethlehem Country Club" is available at the course.