Wildwood Golf Club's Colorful History

No one can say for certain, but Delaware and Shawnee Indians who lived in the Pittsburgh area probably once hunted deer, wild turkey and other small game over the gently rolling hills which have become the lush fairways of Wildwood Golf Club.

The Iroquois once claimed ownership of the land that is now Wildwood, and at various times, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Benjamin Herr family, a bank, several wealthy families, the Boy Scouts of America and the University of Pittsburgh owned it.

The Wildwood land, more than 170 acres, was part of the "depreciation lands" of Pennsylvania, some 720,000 acres acquired in a 1784 treaty with the Iroquois Indians. After the Revolutionary war, the state gave the land to Pennsylvanians who fought in the war to reimburse them for their "depreciated" scrip pay which had become worthless.

Benjamin Herr, a Mennonite from Lancaster, Pa., acquired the property in 1848 and farmed it until his death, but the farmland remained in the Herr family until the mid-1920's.

That's when Wildwood Golf Club's history began. George Wittmer, Jr., with the financial help of Dr. W. B. Ray, acquired the rolling farmland 12 miles north of Pittsburgh from Benjamin Herr's descendants and built an 18-hole golf course and a beautiful stone clubhouse. Wittmer and Ray opened the facility, which they called Wildwood Country Club, in late 1927. During its early years, Wildwood Country Club was the site for several major golf tournaments, including the Dapper Dan Open, which attracted some of the great professional golfers of that era, including Ralph Guldahl, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan.

Like most country clubs, Wildwood struggled financially during the Depression, and as World War II began, gasoline rationing dealt it a death blow. Considered as "out in the sticks" then, and hard to get to, the club began to lose members. It was sold in a sheriff's sale on April 6, 1940.

Ownership of the Property changed hands two more times before John W. Hubbard, a wealthy industrialist, acquired it on October 28, 1944. Hubbard donated it to the Boy Scouts of America.

With money it received from its participation in the 1956 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), acquired the club on March 28, 1956, and used it as practice areas for its athletic teams and as a recreational facility for its faculty.

Pitt rejuvenated the facilities, including the golf course, and operated the club as Pitt Wildwood. After four years of operating at a loss, the university sold the property on June 28, 1960 to Stone Lodge, Inc., a group of members from the community and Pitt, for $535,000.

Stone Lodge, Inc., which owns the real property, leases it to Wildwood Golf Club.


2016 Wildwood Golf Course Scorecard

Golf Course News

As we are in the midst of some great golfing weather, there is no better time than the present to realize the exciting changes for Spring on the course and grounds at Wildwood Golf Club.  Members and guests will be delighted to see renovations to the front entry which include a complete re-facing of the steps in addition to a soon to be colorful perennial flower display which will provide blooms all season long.  Along the valet and bag drop area, Evergreen and PJM  Rhododendrons will provide spring color and dimension, while coral bells, candytuft, and Veronica Georgia Blue plants will provide groundcover and beautiful early season flowers from February to April.  Venturing onto the course, golfers will notice a split faced block half wall framing #1 tee, completing the design flow seen elsewhere throughout the Clubhouse Campus.  On the course, landscape improvements include the redesign of the bed at #2 Ladies Tee, #4 tee, #11 green and Sample Road, and #17 tee.  Golfers will notice a multi season blooming effect in these beds, with daffodils and other bulbs flowering in early spring, followed by colorful displays of phlox and coreopsis, prior to the profusion of annual blooms in the summer months.  
Spring aerification was successfully completed on Wednesday March 30.  The Wildwood Golf Club staff removed ½” cores from the greens and approaches totaling to about 50 holes per square foot, or 7.5 million throughout the greens and approaches.  Following cleanup of the cores, the crew expertly backfilled each of the remaining holes with fine silica sand, specified to optimize root growth and playing conditions.  In total, over 100 tons of sand was incorporated into the greens, a large but appropriate amount as we lay the foundation for a successful golf season.  Biannual aerficiation is important as it helps to dilute organic matter that accumulates within the soil profile.  When left unchecked, this organic matter contributes to poor turf health and playability.  
Proper divot repair etiquette calls on players to repair fairway and tee divots by placing the stripped turf “green side up”, permitting the turf to root and reestablish into the fairway.  At times when the turf breaks up mid-air after the shot, players are encouraged to utilize the divot mix provided in the golf carts.  Simply pour the mix into the divot, applying enough to slightly overfill it.  With the sole of your shoe, smooth the mound of mix to the surrounding elevation.   Taking a few seconds to repair your fairway and tee divots will permit our greens and grounds staff to dedicate labor to more value added tasks throughout the Club.  
Please feel free to contact me via email, tfisher@wildwoodgolfclub.org or by phone 412-518-8384, if you have questions about these or any other topics throughout the grounds and course.  Also, check out our Instagram page @wgc_greens or search #wildwoodgolfclub.  See you on the course!