The “Pitman Golf Club” opened April 1, 1927 as a nine hole course. It was built on the Kincaid and Loughran farms located about one mile from the center of Pitman on the gravel road leading to Barnsboro via Alcyon Park. It consisted of approximately 185 acres of land. The clubhouse, remodeled from the barn of Robert Kincaid, was dedicated by Pitman Mayor Edward H. Gurk on Memorial Day, 1927. The course committee, consisting of Alexander H. Findlay, Volney B. Kandle, Charles W. Kersey, J. Howard Morris, and Morton C. Haight, accepted membership dues of $75 per year and daily greens fees of $1 for weekdays and $2 on weekends and holidays.
The construction of the course was supervised by Scotsman and American golf pioneer, Alexandar Findlay, a renown course architect who designed dozens of courses. He described Pitman as his “nine hole masterpiece.” Eight of the original nine are present day holes 1, 16, 17, 11, 5, 6, 8, and 9. The original par-5 seventh hole was redesigned into a par-4 in 1992, oddly through the insistence of a state agency. It is known that all 18 holes were completed by 1931 and played to 6,480 yards and a par of 72.
Over the next several years, the “Pitman Golf Club” corporation consolidated ownership of the property. Deeds indicate that a parcel of 109 acres of land were purchased from Esther Kincaid on May 1, 1934 at the price of $16,000.
The Pitman Golf Course quickly became a social center for many of the area's prominent families. The spacious and elegant second floor ballroom hosted civic, social and private functions, including many formal dances. A highlight of the social history of the club was a musical performance by the Glenn Miller Band prior to Miller joining the military forces in Europe in World War II.
Several golf professionals were employed during the pre-World War II era including Arthur Atherton and Charlie Hoffner. Pitman resident Joe MacIntosh, a caddie in the opening year of the course, recalls that caddies would meet to receive their assignments under the silver maple tree that is memorialized here. The caddies were permitted to play on Mondays. Newspaper accounts of area golf competitions indicate that the Pitman Golf Club was highly regarded among South Jersey courses.
Due to mounting expenses and gas rationing associated with World War II, the club ceased operation in 1942. For the next 12 years, the property was primarily used to grow hay and peach trees. As a youth Jack Sheppard Sr., who served 24 years as Wenonah mayor and is still a Wenonah resident, recalls harvesting the hay on the course to feed the horses owned by Herb Schock at his stables on nearby Lambs Road. Gene Mori, who built the Garden State Park in what is presently called Cherry Hill, hired horse and wagon teams from Schock and other stable owners to transport horse racing fans to his track.
In 1954, the course entered a new era when it reopened under the ownership of Robert and Dorothy Venables. The new owners purchased 172.4 acres of land at the price of $90,000 from the “Pitman Country Club” corporation that was chaired by Charles W. Kersey. The Pitman Women's Golf Association organized this same year. Four years later, the Pitman Men's Golf Association organized. Both remain active today.
On May 1, 1958, an ownership group consisting of Ralph Cornell, Harry R. Halloran, William Raynor, and Thomas A. Bruder purchase the “Venables Tract” of 172 acres for the price of $295,000. The new owners expanded the course property by 65 acres on April 16, 1959 with the purchase of two tracts from J. Wilmer Zee, Jr. and Jean R. Zee.
For the next 35 years, the Pitman Country Club was a popular destination of area golfers as a place to play a round of golf or a hand of gin in the lockerroom. Two of the most memorable events that occurred during this era were a golf exhibition by Sam Snead in September of 1960, who still holds the PGA record for tour victories, and an incredible round played by a 13-year-old. Snead, playing a match with golf professionals Al Besselink, Charlie LePre, and Paul Midiri, shot a 67, but is also remembered for refusing a dinner invitation unless paid an additional appearance fee of $500. On July 6, 1976, Doug Beechler shot a 13-under-par 58 while playing in a junior competition and for years was in the Guinness Book of World Records for posting the lowest round ever shot on a regulation course by someone as young. He had a breathtaking 10-under-25 on the back nine.
During the first two decades after the course reopened, there were many changes of administrative personnel. Horace Smith was the first professional, followed by Midge Kupsik, Dave McCleary, Paul Midiri and Danny Gaskill. The first manager of the new era was “Beetle” Bierne followed by Eddie Coach. In the early 1970's, the course was leased to Nick Carbo who served as course manager and Charlie LePre who served as professional. Former Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Ron Jaworski leased the course from 1992 through 1994.
Many great players emerged from Pitman including Bernie Dunne, who would beat Fuzzy Zoeller to win the National JUCO championship when he played for Gloucester County College; Greg Farrow, who would become one of the top tournament winners in the Philadelphia Section of the PGA; Ed Anton Jr., who would win seven Gloucester County Amateur titles; and Leo Glutting, who after a sparkling amateur career served as Jaworski's head pro.
Pitman also was a popular stop for Al Besselink, a successful touring pro from the mid-20 th Century who was a close friend of Bierne's, and George Low, one of golf's true characters. Known as “America's Guest,” Low was a putting marvel who gave lessons to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and had his own putter models manufactured.
In 1992 the New Jersey State Department of Transportation forced the course's owners and leasee Jaworski to shut down the popular par-5 seventh hole because of complaints that golf balls were hitting cars driving on newly-constructed Route 55. Although it was determined that it was vandals who were hitting the balls, not golfers, the state agency held its ground in court. The seventh was changed from a straight par 5 to a dog-leg par 4 with the green moved farther away from the highway.
On January 4, 1994, The Board of Chosen Freeholders of Gloucester County purchased 233 acres -- the “Venables Tract” and the “Zee Tract” -- from the “Pitman Country Club” corporation for $4,020,000. The county received “Green Acres” funding from the State of New Jersey to aid in the purchase. The county began operating the course January 1, 1995. John Borrell served as the first golf professional/manager during the new era and Orist Wells replaced him in 1998.
In January 2003, the silver maple to which farmers had tethered their animals, offered shade to the Kincaid Farm House, served as a meeting place for caddies, and stood sentry over the putting green for more than 70 years, was removed due to its rapid deterioration. Later that same year, the Kincaid barn, that was remodeled to serve as a clubhouse prior to the Great Depression, was taken down for a new clubhouse which opened its doors in the summer of 2003, ending yet another era. Preserved by local artist, Woody Platt, the painting “The Old Clubhouse” will forever remind us of all the lasting memories this course has enjoyed.
Now under the direction of the County of Gloucester, the Pitman Golf Course moves on to write another chapter in it’s history and we look forward to creating many more lasting memories that we can be shared by everyone. Compiled in 2003
Facility Offerings & Features
- Clubhouse with Bar and Restaurant
- 18 Hole Public Golf Course w/ Driving Range
- Pro Shop Stocked Nicely With Merchandise
- Walking Permitted Anytime
- Tee Times Recommended
- Special Discounted Rates Available For Residents Of Gloucester County
- USGA Handicap Service, Club Rental, Men's & Ladies Locker Rooms