The History of Pinehaven

Eleven sportsmen from the Capital District had a dream to build a golf club in what is known as the “Pine Bush” area between Albany and Schenectady The result of that dream 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 Founders

The eleven founders were 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. They began construction of the course in 1959, doing much of the work clearing trees and preparing the land themselves. It was a challenging site for a golf course because Pinehaven was literally carved out of a forest of full-grown pitch pines, spruce, Douglas firs and hardwoods.

Course Opening

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 Golf Course. The second nine holes opened in spring of 1961. 

The Design

The course was designed by Jim Thompson, who was head professional at the Mohawk Golf Club, and Armand Farina. 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.

Today’s course is a par 71 layout that measures 6,500 yards from the back tees. Water comes into play on three holes (2, 16, and 17) and the fairways are typically tree-lined with elevated greens. The course record of 63 was set in 1985 by Jim Jeffers, then a Pinehaven assistant professional.

In 1997, the course was certified by the Audubon Society under the cooperative sanctuary program for golf courses.

Course Changes

Pinehaven has continued improving over its sixty year history.  The second nine holes were completed in 1961 on 75 acres of land purchased along Siver Road.  In 1962 the driving range was developed. The club installed the initial greens watering system in 1963 and in 1965 the swimming pool was opened.  A new automated irrigation system covering the fairways and rough was installed in the 1990's.                
In 1998 the newly renovated 16th hole was unveiled.  The work on hole 16 converted a pedestrian 350-yard par 4 into a demanding 420-yard par 4 with a new green wrapped around a large pond.                                                                                                   
The next change was regrading the 18th fairway to offer a better view of the green complex when hitting an approach shot.  The fairway and greenside bunkers were all renovated and the left side of the green was enlarged to offer additional hole locations.

The 13th was originally a rather benign 350-yard par 4.  A new championship tee box was added, requiring a drive through a chute from those tees and 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.  This was removed (along with the dozens of golf balls it held) and numerous trees were removed from the rough on the left side of the dogleg.  The fairway was re-graded and three bunkers added to perfectly frame the landing area.  The area surrounding the green complex was improved with three new bunkers, and the new championship tee added 35 yards to this difficult par 4.

In 2008 Pinehaven introduced a new practice green.  The new putting green is three times the size of the former green and is placed in an amphitheater setting.  This addition offers members and competitors a complete complex to practice their short game. 

The Clubhouse

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 8th 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.  This new 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.

A major renovation of the clubhouse was completed in the spring of 1998. The expansion added banquet space and private meeting space, enlarged the ladies locker room, and introduced a magnificent horseshoe shaped bar in a beautiful octagon addition overlooking the course. An update to modernize the banquet facilities, dining room, and Spike lounge was completed in 2018.