Harmony Ridge GC in Harmony Township, Pa. shares architectural roots with the storied Oakmont Country Club that’s a half-hour away, but little else. But it has survived challenges that have closed other courses in the area, and its owners are planning a new clubhouse to replace one destroyed by fire three years ago, as part of revamping the property for its centennial celebration in 2023.
Five years from now, the golf course once referred to as “Oakmont’s Little Brother” will celebrate its 100th anniversary, The Times of Beaver, Pa. reported.
“We’re looking forward to that,” said Greg Paul, the man who owns Harmony Ridge Golf Club, which is situated on rolling hills and ridges in Harmony Township, Pa.
Harmony Ridge GC’s link to Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, the historic golf venue located 36 miles away, stems from when it was established in 1923 as Ambridge Country Club, with a golf course designed and built by Emil Loeffler along with H.C. Fownes and W.C Fownes, the same men who designed and built Oakmont and its course that has hosted the U.S. Open nine times and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
But that’s really where the comparisons end, The Times reported. Harmony Ridge is a modest nine-hole course that, like many courses in western Pennsylvania in recent years, has endured financial challenges.
But despite some tough times—including a fire in 2015 that destroyed its clubhouse—Harmony Ridge hasn’t met the same fate, The Times reported, as three other area courses that closed in recent years: Hawthorne Valley in Ohioville, Pa., River’s Edge (formerly Ohio View) in Industry, Pa. and Marada in Clinton, Pa..
In fact, The Times reported, Harmony Ridge has not only survived, but looks forward to a bright future.
Plans and designs are in place to rebuild the clubhouse, which will include a 150-seat restaurant and a 50-seat banquet room. Paul hopes the new facility will open in time for the start of the 2019 golf season, The Times reported.
Paul also has plans to build 75 single-family homes for the 55-plus community that will include its own clubhouse and pool, The Times reported. That project will be built on property where two of the course’s nine holes used to be. Those two holes were eliminated a few years ago, when Paul built two new par-3 holes to go along with the existing seven holes on the course’s main property.
For most of its existence, The Times reported, the Harmony Ridge course was a private venue that was a popular destination for many golfers, particularly in the Ambridge, Pa. area. But with membership declining, the club was sold in 2008 when Paul and two partners bought the course and immediately changed the name from Ambridge CC to Harmony Ridge.
One of those three partners was John Mazza, who’s currently the Director of Golf at Connoquenessing Country Club in Ellwood City, Pa., The Times reported.
In 2013, Paul and his wife Ricki became sole owners of Harmony Ridge. “The components we have right now are things that have been on the drawing board ever since we took it over,” said Paul, a 1975 Ambridge High School graduate. “We always intended to develop property around the golf course, and we always intended to keep the golf course.”
The current course is hilly with out of bounds areas on most holes, and an irrigation system in place that is not currently used, The Times reported. The greens, watered by hand, are in good shape for the most part.
The Harmony Ridge course has two sets of tees, The Times reported; one plays 2,568 yards with par at 35, and the second plays 2,598 yards with par at 34. The No. 9 hole plays as both a par 4 and a par 3, depending on which tee box is used.
“It’s not an easy golf course,” Paul said.
But it’s a course that several golfers from the Ambridge area play regularly, some almost every day. And it’s also the home course for the Eden Christian Academy boys golf team, The Times reported.
Harmony Ridge no longer has a golf pro, or even a pro shop, The Times reported. It has a fleet of 20 carts and there’s a putting green but not a driving range
Greens fees are: nine holes with cart, $20; 18 holes with cart, $32; nine holes walking, $12; and 18 holes walking, $20.
A patio area near the first tee offers golfers a place to have a bite to eat or a post-round drink.
Ten years ago, when Mazza was part owner, he said “This is a nice little nine-hole public course with a country club feel to it,” The Times reported. And Paul hopes and expects that will be the case again once the new clubhouse opens.
“We’re going to freshen up the whole place,” he said. “Yes, I’m optimistic and excited about everything we have ahead of us.”