The Cragsmoor Inn Country Club and Golf Course
In 1904, with the promise of clean, cool, and invigorating air, the Cragsmoor Inn opened. Rising majestically from a mountain plateau eighteen hundred and fifty-seven feet above the valley, and under the guidance of a remarkable visionary, artist, and Renaissance woman, Austa Densmore Sturdevant, the Inn flourished for decades and the one-hundred and five-room Cragsmoor Inn became a getaway destination for many a harried guest. Vistas of unparalleled beauty were visible: ever-changing, yet ever remaining the same. The profile of the Shawangunk Mountain Range to the east remains constant. The promontory today known as Sam’s Point juts out notable from the ridge. The Rolling hills to the west and the Catskills to the north provide Cragsmoorians and visitors a promise that suggests this view will remain forever undisturbed.
In 1924, on land leased from, and adjacent to the Cragsmoor Inn, a nine-hole golf course, reputed to be one of the best in the east, had its beginning.
The firm of Wayne E. Stiles, Golf Architect, was hired and construction began in the autumn of 1924. Mr. Stiles had an office in Boston and partnered with John Van Kleek, who ran a branch of the company in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Stiles built more than sixty courses between 1924 and 1932, mainly in New England. The 1920s are widely recognized as the Golden Age of course design, and Mr. Stiles’ designs placed him in direct competition with the most prolific and preeminent golf architect of the twentieth century, Donald Ross. Mr. Ross worked out of a Rhode Island location, and the two vied for many course designs in the northeast. Many compare the works of Wayne E. Stiles with Donald Ross’, certainly a compliment to Mr. Stiles’ abilities. His courses remain highly respected to this day.
Under the direction of Mr. Stiles, and his site foreman, Leonard Marl – a native Cragsmoorian – six holes were ready for play in the spring of 1925... and the game was on. With the addition of three holes, the nine officially opened in August of 1928. Some, plans for another nine of adjacent land owned by Mr. Innes Jr. received consideration. In keeping with the conditions of ownership, Mr. Innes Jr. agreed to deed the tract of land to the Cragsmoor Company, Inc. at a cost of two shares of preferred stock per acre. The nine, never built, apparently became a casualty of the economic crises of the 1930s.
The course measured a substantial twenty-nine hundred yards. It possessed challenging green complexes, wide fairways, and deep bunkers. The fifth green was located directly in front of the Inn. Many players stopped briefly for refreshments or lunch and continued. This unusual routing is hauntingly similar to the famed Pine Valley Golf Club, which is widely recognized as the greatest golf course in the world. The fourth green is located so near the clubhouse that many members either play the four holes as a warm-up or stop for a quick bowl of Pine Valley’s world-famous Turtle Soup before tackling the devilish par-three fifth hole.
Records indicate the Cragsmoor Country Club gained corporate status in 1926. Annual memberships required the purchase of not less than five shares of preferred stock or twenty-five shares of common stock in the Cragsmoor Company, Inc. Guests of members were allowed a once-a-year privilege to play but only if residing within three miles of the Cragsmoor Golf Club. Guests of the Inn would pay a greens fee of $2.50 on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, $2.00 during the week, $12.00 weekly, $40.00 monthly, and $85.00 for an annual pass.
Mr. Karl Collings of Landsdowne, PA served as the club’s first Golf Committee Chairman, along with four other members appointed by the Board of Governors.
In December 1936, Austa Densmore Sturdevant passed away at the age of eighty-one. Three years later, the Cragsmoor Company, Inc. purchased the property. In July 1958, the Inn became a boy’s school, but heating the building in the winter proved too costly, and the school re-located.
The Cragsmoor Country Club closed in 1966.
The raising of the Cragsmoor Inn, as part of a controlled fire drill, took place in the early 1970s.
(Excerpts from an article written by Geoff Walsh, PGA for Wawarsing.Net June, 2003)