Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club is built on land that is rich with natural beauty: rolling hills, mature trees and plush greenery, and the historical and winding Stony Brook.
The property has a rich history dating back to 1715. The Moore family, who purchased the land and operated a mill on the banks of the Stony Brook in the mid 1700’s, held ownership for over 130 years. The foundation of the old millhouse still stands next the Club’s golf course maintenance building on the east bank of the creek. The Moore family property gained notoriety in 1876, as the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad extended their line to include a stop at the Moore Estate, giving Hopewell and Pennington residents access to the cosmopolitan cities of New York and Philadelphia as well as to expand the commerce of the local area. To this day, a train flashes by the Club daily, offering a surprising distraction for those golfers about to putt on the 18th green. The Moore House estate home, which still stands on the property, was built in 1820 and is presently used as administrative offices for the Club.
Birthplace of Baron Dillon
The final landowner, prior to the development of the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club, brought the most fame to the history of the property. That owner was pharmacist Ephraim S. Wells, from whom one of the Club’s founders, George Wells, later inherited the land. Ephraim Wells, who had made his millionaire fortune patenting and producing rat poison, bought the property in 1890 and made use of the land as a horse stud farm. It was from that farm that produced one of America’s most famous trotters, “Baron Dillon.” In honor of the legend of that great horse, the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club’s main member dining room bears its name, “The Baron Dillon Room.” The Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club’s clubhouse is the original barn from the horse farm. Ask the management of the Club for a tour of the old hayloft of the barn in the Clubhouse’s attic on some rainy afternoon when golf play is not possible. In the early days of the Club, the Moore House was used for the clubhouse and the barn was used to stable both horses and the Club’s Golf Shop. While the horses are now long gone from the old barn, the Golf Shop still remains.
The Tradition of Golf at Hopewell Valley
Mr. Thomas Winton, noted Scottish golf architect, was commissioned on October 16, 1927 by Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club’s first president and co-founder Dr. T.A. Pierson to design an l8-hole golf course for the Club. The course opened to member play in the spring of 1928. Thomas Winton (1871 – 1944) was the son of a famed Scottish golf professional and club maker James Winton. It was from working and studying with his father that inspired Thomas’ love and respect for the game of golf and the desire to pursue design and construction of golf courses. Winton later moved to London, England, where he worked and studied for several acclaimed golf course architects, building such famed English courses as Coombe Hill and South Herts. The hardships of World War I relocated Winton to the United States, where during the 1920’s and 30’s he designed and/or redesigned many famed golf courses on the East Coast. Winton’s adherence and commitment to the great traditions of Scottish-style golf course design and his love of the game can be seen throughout his career portfolio.
The Scottish heritage and design style of Thomas Winton is visible throughout the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club. The design of the course places the front nine holes around the perimeter of the course spiraled carefully around the back nine holes, thus allowing the meandering Stony Brook to bring hazard and challenge to five different holes. Small trademark Scottish greens present the golfer with the greatest challenge of the course. The requirement of pinpoint accuracy is made even more difficult by the perfectly placed Scottish-styled deep sand and grass bunkers. Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club is a golfer’s golf course. The number 13 hole is the Club’s signature hole. It is a par three hole with 150 yards separating tee to green with only water in between. It is a definite make or break golf hole.
In 1979, the Club voted to adapt remodeling plans for the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club’s golf course designed by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones. While a full re-design was never implemented, many of Mr. Jones’ ingenious design features are evident, including the lengthening of five of the Club’s most challenging holes.
Today, the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club has retained noted golf course architect Stephen Kay to consult on various projects on the golf course, to protect our great golf asset and meet the demands of both members and Mother Nature.
A century has passed since Thomas Winton first walked the horse farm of Ephraim Wells. Since that time a great golf establishment has evolved. And from those early days of incorporation to today, the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club continues to hold its place as one of the best conditioned and respected golf clubs in the area.
In 1944, the lowest recorded round of golf in the history of the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club was posted. Member and twelve-time men’s club champion George Brenner shot a 65 on September 4th of that year. However, the course played a bit differently back then with immature pines and generous fairway rolls due to a lack of irrigation. Today, Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club is a mature tree-line golf course, lush with green fairways and rough, offering a tranquil outing over its 190 acres from today’s hustle and bustle world. The majority of our members walk the course, in keeping with the tradition of Scottish golf. In fact, the Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club’s By-laws specifically state that no rule or fee shall ever be imposed to prohibit or restrict members from walking the golf course.