History of Bent Creek Country Club

Six Lancaster businessmen, long known for their expertise and accomplishments in real estate development, wanted more…

For each, the "ultimate career challenge" had been elusive as they planned and executed area residential, commercial and industrial projects. Discussions among the group often centered on the dream of creating a first-class golf course community in Lancaster.

That dream took its first steps towards reality in 1987, when Robert A. Wolf, Robert A Wolf II, Barry D. Hogan, Dennis D. Herr, Dennis W. Hevener and Josie E. Buckwalter joined forces to research, plan and develop a state-of-the-art golf community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. "This project provides our group with the satisfaction of joining forces to accomplish a goal yet unattained as individuals", said Bob Wolf,II.

"The last five years has been a search for excellence as we located the appropriate site, consultants, architects and contractors that would be willing and able to produce the level of quality that we would demand", added Wolf.

The partners’ first step was to contract COPM, a well known golf consulting and management company, based in Tallahassee, Florida. COPM, which stands for Club Operations and Property Management, provided guidance in the initial research stages and will continue to serve as the contracted management group through the duration of the development. 

Next, the group located a land planning organization to help them visualize the land needed to develop an exemplary 18-hole course surrounded by 400 living units. Bland Pittman, land planners of Tulsa, Oklahoma identified the land requirements to be at least 300 acres. After endless searching for available land in Manheim Township, the group turned their attention to a site at the southern end of the county. Fate, according to Wolf, ended the pursuit of that sight as land problems developed. 

"Less than 12 months later we obtained an option on a 70-acre farm in Manheim Twp., followed by Erb's Nursery’s offer to sell 130 acres which were contiguous to the first parcel", Wolf said. The final piece of the puzzle came together when an offer for the adjoining Hostetter farm was accepted, providing the 300 acre total acres needed for the project. Bland Pittman will be responsible for the layout of the golf villas and the single family lots surrounding the course.

After talking with the well-respected golf course architecture firms of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Pete Dye, Tom Fasio, and Jay Morrish, the partners decided on Morrish. The group agreed that he would provide the level of design required, and projected that he would be the up and coming superstar of course design. Intuition paid off, as the following month’s Golf Digest featured Morrish-designed courses as the number one and two new courses in the country. In a recent interview, Morrish stated that the Bent Creek site has all the ingredients needed to make it one of the best courses in the Northeast. 

An important addition to the construction team came with the appointment of a third well-known, Tulsa-based firm, Poe and Associates Golf Course Engineers. The group had worked with Jay Morrish and Bland Pittman on prior occasions and came highly recommended. "The fact that our design firms are all from Tulsa and have worked together before, has made the planning and communications stages a very smooth process" said Wolf. Following that appointment, five Morrish-approved golf course contractors were considered to bid and execute the plans. Landscapes Unlimited of Omaha, Nebraska, was selected.

In October, 1990 an on-site reception was held to introduce over 800 prospective members to the environment, team members and plans for the club development. The developer’s goal was to sell at least 100 golf equity memberships at $20,000 in the first three months following the reception, and an additional 200 in the next nine months. 

The opportunity to apply for membership was opened to the prospective members at 8:00 a.m. the following Monday morning at the Bent Creek Office on Foxshire Drive. "The response was overwhelming," said Wolf. "People were waiting in line when we opened the door, and not five hours later 200 memberships were sold." As of March 18, 1990, Bent Creek accepted 288 golf equity memberships and approximately 35 sports memberships. 

The completion of the Bent Creek construction team involved a thorough search for a clubhouse architect. The initial review was narrowed to a field of seven qualified firms, four of which were local. The contract was awarded to architect David Minno of The Martin Organization, a Philadelphia-based firm experienced in country club design. 

"We felt that this firm would integrate their club design experience with sensitivity to the architecture of Lancaster County" explained Wolf as he unrolled the first renderings of the proposed clubhouse for inspection. "If you think this is spectacular, wait until you see the model under glass that is being readied to share with the membership."

The partners anticipated the start of the golf course construction to begin as soon as permits were issued, the clubhouse construction in the spring of ’92 and home sites to be available for construction by the summer of ’92. The first phase of building lots being available for purchase in June. 

On behalf of the developers, Wolf expressed grateful thanks to the elected Board of Governors who have devoted countless hours of time and energy to the start-up. 

Both groups were well aware that the work had just begun.