Bendelow was more than the most prolific golf course architect
in history. He was more than even the creator of two courses
that remain listed among America’s Top 100. Bendelow,
the designer of the original nine holes at Colonia Country
Club in 1899, is one of the unsung heroes of golf in America.
Bendelow (1868-1936), from Aberdeen, Scotland, set standards
in nearly every aspect of the game following his arrival
in America in 1892. He played competitively, and was good
enough, in fact, to tour America with the great Harry Vardon.
He was an accomplished instructor, a writer, an operator
of retail golf outlets, and its first indoor teaching facility.
Bendelow managed American’s first public golf course,
and wrote extensively about the game and golf course maintenance.
Bendelow’s obituary that appeared in the Chicago
Times claimed he was responsible for more than 1,000 golf
courses, and produced at least one in every state but two.
He took work as a typesetter for the New York Herald after
arriving in New York City, and intercepted an ad run by
a wealthy Long Island family seeking a golf instructor.
Following his successful tutoring, he was asked to lay out
a six-hole course on their estate. By 1895 he left the Herald
to concentrate on golf full time.
That year, he established the first indoor golf school
in America at New York City’s Carnegie Hall building.
Later, he assumed the manager/greenskeeper position at Van
Cortland Park in the Bronx. He built an additional nine
holes to complement the existing nine, and was first to
institute a system of reserved tee times. His mission of
growing the game, and making it accessible to masses continued
over the next several decades.
The pioneer architect charged $25 for his design services,
and often staked golf courses in one day, leaving the shaping
and bunkering to the developers. His original layout at
Colonia, for example, did not feature a single bunker.
In 1900, he met A.G. Spalding, founder of the sporting
goods company, and went to work for him the following year,
an association that listed 15 years. In 1907, after he moved
to Chicago to work out of the Spalding headquarters, he
assumed the role as editor of the Spalding Golf Guide.
His efforts at Medinah Country Club, and East Lake in Atlanta,
both rated Top 100 courses by GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest,
and Golfweek, remain his landmark designs. Among his other
courses in New Jersey are the West Course at Plainfield
(1898), the East Course at Essex County Country Club (1898)
and the East Orange Municipal (1926).