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Bedford golf course builds on famed architects’ designs

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Rick Starr
Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Bedford Springs Resort Old Course has been rejuvenated.
The classic 18-hole golf course re-opened in July as part of a $120 million renovation of the links and the 216-room resort and spa by Bedford Resort Partners.

“With four sets of tees on every hole, the course will challenge players of every skill level,” says golf pro Ron Leporati.

Golf at Bedford Springs goes back more than 100 years, so the first obstacle to restoring the layout was deciding which era to revisit:

= Spencer Oldham designed the original 18-hole course in 1895, complete with geometric bunkers.

= A.W. Tillinghast added a classic par-3 hole in 1912 that he named “Tiny Tim,” while taking the course to nine holes.

= Donald Ross expanded the course to 18 holes in 1923, adding several holes along Shober’s Run, one of the state’s Gold Medal trout streams.

The resort preserved the designs of all three famed architects, according to restoration specialist Ron Forse, of Forse Design of Hopwood.

“While we tried to maintain the visual character and the playing character of each hole from its original design, we also made a lot of changes to make it playable for today,” Forse says.

The course now features a state-of-the-art irrigation system, and Bentgrass fairways, tees and greens.

“We were restoring a significant piece of Pennsylvania history at Bedford Springs, at least as far as golf is concerned,” he says. “We’re very cognizant of the responsibility.

“It’s a balancing act to maintain as much of the design intent of the old hole, but still make it play as part of a resort course today.”

Because of modern driver technology, which ushered in the era of 300-yard drives, Forse moved several tees to bring hazards back into play.

Other changes, such as lowering the degree of slope on greens, were forced by advances in turf management and equipment.

“But we felt all along that if the course had a modern feel, it would have been a failure,” Forse says.

Forse is particularly proud of the restoration of Tillinghast’s “Tiny Tim,” now the 14th hole. Tillinghast considered the little hole one of his best because it brings a pond, creek, wetlands, mounding and tight bunkering into play.

“There aren’t many par-3s from 1912 left in Pennsylvania,” Forse says.

“Tiny Tim” was almost lost when the property was virtually abandoned in 1986 – just two years after the Department of the Interior designated its hotel and spa as a National Historic Landmark.

Forse had to rebuild two of Ross’ closing holes — using a 1952 photograph — because they had been converted into a driving range.

Forse says he’s constantly impressed with the strategic aspects of holes designed by Oldham, Tillinghast and Ross.

“Playing their designs never gets old, because they built alternate routes to the target,” he says. “They didn’t want golfers to take shots for granted.”

Bedford Springs Resort Old Course

Par: 72

Yardage: 6,795 blue tees, 6,431 white, 5,807 gold, 5,050 red

Greens fees: Resort guest, $105-125; public and tournament, $115-$135; twilight rate (after 3 p.m.), $70-90

Overnight golf packages: Starting at $355 per person, $470 per couple

Tee times: Required

Details: 814-623-8100 or

Rick Starr can be reached at or 724-226-4691.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633