Crown Point celebrates 60 years of golf
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | August 23,2013
SPRINGFIELD — The sound of a cannon and bagpipes joined the swoosh of a golf club over grass Thursday as the Crown Point Country Club celebrated its 60th anniversary.
At a morning celebration, dozens of people gathered to remember the community effort that created the golf course, which now stretches a full 18 holes on the Springfield-Weathersfield town line.
Crown Point got its name from the famous French and Indian War military road that makes its way through the golf course, on its way to Lake Champlain.
The golf course boasts dramatic views of Mount Ascutney and Okemo Mountain.
“There are more polished golf courses,” said member Dan Hillard of Hartford, who drives down to Springfield to his favorite course. “But people here are very friendly and you get to know people here.”
The day’s events included a golf tournament and chances to win a $1 million hole-in-one contest.
Fred Koledo was a Springfield High School student when he first started going to the golf course, but it wasn’t for playing. He was one of many co-op students who volunteered to pick up rocks — and eventually smaller stones — from the former cow pastures and hay fields.
Koledo, now 76, said he would be provided with a pail, and he even picked up “little pebbles” as part of the conversion of the farm into a golf course. “It was fun,” he said.
His reward from his teacher, he said, was a $6 membership.
Koledo’s experience made him a lifelong golfer, and he’s been a member at Crown Point ever since 1955. Koledo organized the popular “Polish Open” for years at the club, a tribute to the immigrant population in Springfield, which combined a golf tournament with Polish ethnic food and entertainment, including polka lessons in the evening in the clubhouse.
Crown Point Country Club gave true meaning to the phrase ‘‘cow pasture pool.” The former Trombly farm had been sold to the CPCC organization in March 1953, and the transformation began in earnest.
According to news clippings posted on the walls of the clubhouse Thursday, not all of the first nine holes were ready for the Aug. 22, 1953, debut. A very wet spring, and then a dry June and July had thwarted course construction.
Peter MacGillivray said his father, Lloyd “Red” MacGillivray, was one of the original founders of the club.
The whole community rallied together to build the club, he said.
“It was such a town effort, and didn’t involve a lot of money,” he said.
MacGillivray said he first played golf at Crown Point in 1957 as a high school freshman.
“It was one of the few 18-hole courses in Vermont,” he said.
Back in 1953, according to the club’s “self-appointed” historian Jeff Taft-Dick, the closest golf course was in Woodstock, or Pittsford-Proctor. Smaller courses at the time included Hooper in Walpole, N.H., and Bellows Falls.
Taft-Dick said the golf enthusiasts were told that all they needed “was a farm and $20,000.”
Taft-Dick said more than 20,0000 volunteer hours went into the creation of the club, with volunteers doing everything from picking rocks, to woodworking or renovations to the farmhouse, which was converted to the original clubhouse.
John Middleton helped organize the celebration, and he paid tribute to several people who had been at the course’s debut 60 years ago, including Bob Beardsley and Clara Albanese.
On hand for the celebration was Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who helped raise the American flag, and then a new Crown Point Country Club flag, overlooking the first hole.
One of Scott’s predecessors, former Lt. Gov. Joseph Johnson of Springfield, who was then running for governor, participated in the inaugural golf ceremonies.
But according to one of the news clipping archives, he was later rushed to Springfield Hospital after complaining of dizziness and exhaustion. Johnson fully recovered and was elected governor.