TOM BENDELOW (1868 – 1936) GOLF COURSE ARCHITECT OF ATLAS VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB
He served as A.G. Spalding’s Director of Golf Course Development and later as the Golf Department Manager for Thos. E. Wilson Sporting Good Company. His prominent designs include the Atlanta Athletic Club’s East Lake Golf Club, where the great Bobby Jones learned the game and is perhaps best known for his three layouts at the Medinah Country club, with Course #3 being famous world-wide.
Medinah #3 has served as the host site to several major championships, including the U.S. Open in 1949, 1975 and 1990, the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006 and the Ryder Cup in 2012. Bendelow’s course design is a naturalist’s approach, in that he strove to utilize the natural features of the chosen site to maximum advantage.
He is credited with designing some 600 courses in a 35-year span and a belief that golf should be a sport that the public could play at little to no cost which earned him the nickname of: “The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf”
HISTORY OF ATLAS VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB
The Flint Country Club, as it was called when it opened in 1912, boasted such members as R. Spencer Bishop, J. Dallas Dort, William C. “Billy” Durant, Albert Champion, founder of A.C. Spark Plug Co., Harry H. Bassett, later President of Buick, Basil W. DeGuichard, later head of A.C., and Harlow H. Curtice, golden milestone President of General Motors. Walter O. Smith, then owner-manager of Smith-Bridgman’s, was the first President and Charles Stewart Mott was Vice-President. The Flint Journal reported on Memorial Day of 1912, “The afternoon was devoted to golf, baseball, tennis, archery, croquet, quoits and other pastimes.” On July 4th, 1912, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony.
To establish the club, 37 residents contributed $500 each. They bought the Medbury farm and remodeled the beautiful colonial farmhouse, that included a large veranda, for the clubhouse. The Flint Journal reporter who did the earlier description, took note of the large house and barn on the rear of the property. The house is long gone, but the barn still survives. The barn has been hit by numerous hooked drives from the second tee and innumerable sliced shots from the third tee.
In 1918, the Flint Country Club moved and the course became the Flint Auto Club. Subsequently, in 1925, it became known as the Masonic Country Club. While it was known as the Masonic Country Club, the original clubhouse burned and was replaced by converting one of the barns. Four years later this also burned. The name was changed to Acacia Country Club in 1931. Atlas Valley Country Club came into being in 1938 when a clubhouse was built on the present site.