Mike and Virginia Graff own The Clubhouse on the Hill restaurant in Freeport, Pa., and purchased 60 acres of the former 18-hole Phoenix at Buffalo Valley golf course, with plans to build a nine-hole course in which golfers will complete two loops, with each hole featuring different tees, yardages and pins the second time around.
The Clubhouse on the Hill restaurant in Freeport, Pa., is open and, according to owners Mike and Virginia Graff, and depending on weather, golfers will be playing an adjacent course by late summer or early fall, the Pittsburgh-based TribLive reported.
The plan is for The Clubhouse to use some holes and golf cart paths that were part of the previous Phoenix at Buffalo Valley course in order to create a nine-hole, PGA regulation-length course, TribLive reported.
In order to play nine holes, golfers will complete two loops, with each hole featuring different tees, yardages and pins the second time around, according to retired golf pro and course designer Gary Nese. “Or, if they only want to play five (holes), they can do that,” Nese said.
The course will have a mix of par 3, 4 and 5 holes, TribLive reported.
The Graffs bought 60 acres of the former 18-hole Phoenix at Buffalo Valley course from the Nese family, and own about 100 acres in all in the area. The couple, who own Graff Trucking of Fawn, paid $250,000 on November 8 to buy the 60 acres from Trilogy Golf Development Co. LP, according to Armstrong County records. The Graffs and friends worked last year on the clubhouse, TribLive reported.
“For a whole year, we would work on it and I would stop and cook hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill,” Virginia Graff said. “Then we would sit outside on the large deck overlooking the course and dream.”
The restaurant is open daily. And in addition to lunch and dinner customers, it is hosting parties, wakes and wedding receptions, TribLive reported.
Nese predicts there will be a lot of interest in another golf course. Many people, especially younger couples with children, don’t have a lot of time to enjoy a round of golf and they can’t afford expensive clubs to play long courses, he said. He said there is a resurgence of short, but challenging courses—although the two-loop idea will be a “one of a kind,” TribLive reported.
“It sounds pretty interesting,” said Terry Teasdale, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association. He said he isn’t aware of a similar design for a nine-hole course.
The Nese family built and owns the 18-hole Glengarry Golf Links in Latrobe, Pa., with 50-yard-wide fairways and lakes, Nese said, although another entity operates it. A restaurant, clubhouse, pro shop and 54-lot residential community surround that course, TribLive reported.
The Phoenix at Buffalo Valley—previously known as Buffalo Valley Golf Course, opened in 2011. Nese said it closed about two years later because it couldn’t attract leagues and championship events despite being a scenic, challenging course. Nese said there is plenty of room to develop golf-related housing on land that includes the former back nine holes from Phoenix at Buffalo Valley, TribLive reported.
The Nese family, which owns the rest of the former Phoenix golf course property plus other land, hopes that about 400 houses can be built. “It’s development. It will benefit the area,” Nese said.
Nese hopes the housing will prompt the extension of water and sewer lines that will benefit Freeport and other communities. It also would put a spotlight on the borough, and possibly attract businesses. Nese’s property could include a natural gas well pad that golfers wouldn’t see, he said, because trees would shield it and steps would be taken to make the operation quiet, TribLive reported.
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