The dreams of eleven sportsmen from the Capital District launched a plan to build a golf club in what is known as “the Pine Bush” area between Albany and Schenectady. The result of those dreams is the golf course that challenges competitors today. It is truly a setting of magnificent beauty and has been called one the area’s most picturesque golf courses.
The elevens founders – Peter DeRusico (the first club president), Ernie DelZotto, Leno DelZotto, Dr. Ennio Isabella, Joseph DeRuscio, Francis Juracka, Al Nebolini, Joseph Mazzone, Robert Grasso, Al Cerveca, and Al Percora – began construction of the course in 1959, doing much of the work clearing trees and preparing the land themselves. It is unusual that the site was chosen for a golf course because Pinehaven was literally carved out of a forest of full-grown pitch pines, spruce, Douglas firs and hardwoods.
The course was designed by Jim Thompson, who was head professional at the Mohawk Golf Club, and Armand Farina, head pro at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. In later years, other designers, including Geoffrey Cornish and, more recently, Rick Jacobsen, lent guidance to the redesign of various holes and the adding of course features.
The course is a par 71 layout that measures over 6,400 yards form the back tees. Water comes in play on three holes (2, 16, and 17) and the fairways are typically tree-lined and narrow. The course record of 63 was set in 1985 by Jim Jeffers, then a Pinehaven assistant.
In 1997, the course was designated by the Audubon Society under the cooperative sanctuary program for golf courses.
On June 5, 1960, less than two years after the first construction stake was driven in the Pine Bush forest, the first nine holes of the course were opened with ceremonies conducted by Dr. Joseph DeBlase, the second president of the club. Jim Thompson, in honor of his work on the course, hit the first ball. The first foursome consisted of four local professionals, including Steve Savel of Western Turnpike, Bob Haggerty of the Edison Club, Hap Duval of Sanford Golf Club, and Armand Farina of Schenectady Municipal. The second nine holes opened in spring of 1961.
Pinehaven has continued its development over its fifty year history. The second nine holes were completed in 1961 on 75 acres of land purchased along Siver Road. In 1962 the practice was developed. The club installed initial watering system in 1963 and in 1965 the swimming pool was opened. More recently, a new automated irrigation system was installed in the 1990's and in the summer in 1998 the newly renovated 16th hole was unveiled. The work on hole 16 converted a 350-yard par 4 into a demanding 420-yard par 4 with a new green guarded by a large pond left of and behind the green. Since 1998 Pinehaven's championship course has undergone four significant renovations. These renovations began with the eighteenth fairway being graded to offer a better view of the green complex when hitting an approach shot. Additional, the fairway and greenside bunkers were all renovated. The left side of the green has been subtlety enlarged to offer additional hole location opportunities.
The next hole addressed was the 13th, a rather benign 350-yard par 4. A new championship tee was added stretching the hole more than 25 yards (to 378 yards). A series of bunkers were added up the right side; they serve as targets from the tee and they extend to the greenside.
The right side of the 8th hole was formerly guarded by a large pine tree. The declining health of this pine made its removal necessary; in addition, numerous trees were removed from the rough on the left side of the dogleg. The fairway was graded and three bunkers added to frame the landing area. The area surronding the green complex was improved with three new bunkers, and a new championship tee adds 35 yards of length to this difficult par 4.
In the fall of 2007, Pinehaven redesigned the practice putting green. The new putting green, which opened during the 2008 season, is three times the size of the former green and is placed in an amphitheater setting. This new addition offers members and competitors an exceptional complex to practice their short games.
Since Pinehaven opened in June 1960, it has had three clubhouses. The first was a small building near the original first tee (near the restrooms and snack shack behind the current eighth tee). The second was an old farmhouse on the site of the present clubhouse. That structure was replaced by the clubhouse designed and built by member Dominic Trischetta on the present site. This latter building was unique because it was built around and over the old farmhouse. The only remnant of that farmhouse is the fireplace in the current lounge area. The first formal dinner-dance was held in the rebuilt clubhouse on April 14, 1967.
A major renovation of the clubhouse was started in 1997 and was completed in the spring of 1998.
Pinehaven has seen many dramatic changes since the first round was played in 1960. One thing that has’t changed, however, is the spirit of cooperation and volunteerism demonstrated by its membership.
Pinehaven looks forward to many years of offering its members a golfing experience that is second to none in the Capital District.