St. Bonaventure Golf Course

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    The golf course officially opened on May 16th of 1929 with an exhibition match between Ray McAuliffe, Frank Marsh, Ennis Miller, and Joe Higgins.  They were divided into teams of McAuliffe and Marsh versus Miller and Higgins.   After the exhibition match the golf club was open to members.  St. Bonaventure's College would then develop a golf team with Higgins as the coach, Thomas Campbell of Philadelphia, Pa. was named "caddy-master."

    The golf course began as an idea from Fr. Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M who found the site to be a, "fitting and naturally ordained location for a golf course."  Fr. Bertrand was also behind the project, as he was an "enthusiastic golfer."  These two facts may have lead to the Bonaventure legend that the golf course was built for the Friars.  However, this is not true as the course was built  to give students another avenue for student recreation, enhance the campus, and later helped to make up for the loss of the football program.

For a full view of the Golf Club Constitution, click here

    Work on the golf course started in the spring of 1927 under the direction of Roscoe Evershed of Rochester.  Also on the 16th of May, 1929 ground was broken for the Clubhouse Restaurant.  Fr. Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M performed the ceremony.  The architects were Townsend & McNeil of Buffalo, NY.

The Golf Club continued to operate during WWII as the images from a brochure show below. In May 1944, a new publication was started to share information among the members of the club. The St. Bonaventure Chip Shots magazine included a list of members, upcoming events, reports of past events and general badinage amongst the members. It's unclear how many issues were published.

    A "Green Committee" was formed in 1976 with the purpose of overseeing the physical condition of the course, recommending membership policy, insuring that golf functions were coordinated with the management of the University Club, and formulating course regulations.  Its first members were: Larry Weise (Chair), Fr. Gerald McCaffery, O.F.M., Leo Keenan Jr., Tom Yanetsko, and Pat Dooley.  In the Green Committee's first newsletter from May 28, 1976 the committee defined the course hours and special day events.  Men's Night was every Thursday from 4:15pm to close, Ladies' Day was every Tuesday from 8:00am to 1:00pm, and Couples Golf was every Friday night starting at 5:15pm.  Members were encouraged to replace divots, fix sand hazards after a shot from a bunker, and to let faster groups play through.

    In a March 31, 1976 meeting the Committee agreed that, "the golf course is to be considered as being operated primarily for the students' interest while the University is in session."  Green fees were also stated.  Students were charged $.50 on weekdays and weekends, other players were charged $3.00 on weekdays and $4.00 on weekends.  "Faculty members, members of the Administration and support people and their families [were] deemed to be members with no fee."
    General membership was $100 plus $20 for each additional family member.  During summer sessions University students paid a $15 fee for both sessions.  High school teams also used the course for matches.

For a full view of the score card, click here.

The St. Bonaventure Golf Course has a yardage of 2,893 for men and 2,622 for women.  The par for men and women is 36 and 37, respectively.

Pictures from a 1944 publication titled, "St. Bonaventure Golf Club Souvenir Brochure"


World War II -- War Bonds

On Wednesday, June 21, 1944 golfers at the St. Bonaventure golf course raised $100,000 through the sale of Fifth War Loan Bonds.  Golfers from the Allegany-Olean area purchased the bonds, for $18.75, in order to see top professional golfers, Byron Nelson and Harold "Jug" McSpaden in action.  Nelson was paired with Earl Amidon, a member of the Bartlett Club of Olean, and McSpaden was paired with Bonaventure's own Jim Stravino.  The duo of McSpaden and Stravino won the match by one.  Nelson took at 36 on the front nine and broke the course record by shooting a 29.  McSpaden shot a 33 on the front nine and took a  31 for the back nine, totaling a 64 to beat Nelson's 65.

The match was part of a series of appearances by Nelson and McSpaden through a program with the U.S. Treasury Department and the P.G.A.  The match at St. Bonaventure was arranged and managed by Rev. Anselm Krieger O.F.M, who was director of Athletics.  The program began at 1:30 pm with a "driving exhibition" by Nelson and McSpaden and was followed by the match game, starting at 2:30 pm.  After the golf match Nelson and McSpaden were honored at a dinner on the St. Bonaventure College campus.

Harold "Jug" McSpaden

Byron Nelson


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Last updated: 27 February 2007