On Episode 175 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, host Mitch Laurance and producer Kris McEwen (Darin Bunch being on assignment) welcome Dr. Bern Bernacki for a second visit to the show, having talked to him earlier on Episode 150. As President of the Golf Heritage Society (and an Advisory Board Member of the First Tee of Pittsburgh), Bernacki offers a wealth of knowledge not only about the Society’s upcoming 50th Anniversary National Convention but about classic golf courses around the country that are open for public play.
The discussion begins with Mitch giving a short history of the Golf Heritage Society, noting that it was originally formed in 1970 as an international organization dedicated to preserving the treasures and history of the game. The name was changed in 2018 to reflect an expansion of the Society’s mission to include not only collecting but to encourage a greater mix of members that are young people, juniors, women and minorities. Bernacki shares the details of the upcoming event, to be held outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from September 29th-October 3, 2021. It will feature a fantastic mix of golf (including play on Arnold Palmer’s beloved Latrobe Country Club) played with clubs ranging from hickories to modern classics, seminars (including one that features great golf art through the ages), the always-popular and eye-opening golf club trade show, and a number of speakers (including “Monarch of the Green” author Stephen Proctor).
Bern then shares information on a number of classic golf courses that everyone can enjoy, all of them connected in some way to the history of the game. Foxburg Country club, north of Pittsburgh, opened in 1887 and is the oldest course in America in continuous use. Schenley Park, now known as the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, also near Pittsburgh, opened in 1902 and is home to the First Tee of Pittsburgh. Omni Resorts Bedford Springs Old Course in southern Pennsylvania, opened in 1895, is one of the earliest courses in America and features architecture by A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross. And, finally, Bern shares the story of one of the most historic courses in America — Clearview Golf Course in Canton, Ohio, the first course in America designed, built, owned and operated by an African-American, the great William Powell, whose pioneering endeavor was also the first integrated course in the country, designated a National Historic Site in 2001.
This episode is full of the passion and knowledge that drives Bern Bernacki’s life, work and obvious love for the game and its history. Enjoy the connection.
—Words by Mitch Laurance