Spring Renewal

A grand resort has been resurrected to become a prominent Mid-Atlantic destination once again

By: Dale Leatherman

Appeared in May/June 2008 LINKS

The 200-year-old Bedford Springs Resort is a grand dame with a provenance similar to that of the Homestead and the Greenbrier. Hailed as a “palace in the wilderness” during the 19th century, the resort and the restorative springs received the likes of Daniel Webster and Henry Ford, not to mention seven sitting U.S. Presidents.

After golf first came to Bedford Springs in 1895, players like Francis Ouimet, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen made the visit to Bedford Springs, located 100 miles east of Pittsburgh. Spencer Oldham plotted the first track in 1895; A.W. Tillinghast converted the layout into a nine-holer in 1912.

While holes created by both architects still exist in the current course, the layout didn’t really take shape until Donald Ross overhauled the course and added nine holes in 1923. (The 2nd, 3rd and 15th are Oldham’s, while four of Tillinghast’s holes, including the drop-shot 138-yard 14th, “Tiny Tim,” remain.)

Despite this history, the resort and the course closed in 1986 and stood in ruins for two decades before reopening last summer following a $120 million resurrection, including Ron Forse’s precise restoration of the course, which now measures 6,795 yards.

The 216-room hotel also looks much as it did in the 1800s, with three tiers of white-railed porches complete with rocking chairs. The interior is true to the period, but no modern amenity has been overlooked. Five restaurants and two bars reflect different eras of the hotel’s history. Adjacent to the 1905 indoor pool is a 30,000-square-foot spa, which uses the same mineral waters that first drew visitors to the area more than two centuries ago.


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