In 1936, a forward thinking Howard Merwin offered to donate a piece of land near Somerset Lake to the Town of Hancock for the purpose of developing a municipal golf course. Complications arose and the project did not develop.

In 1940, interest was revived and in April the Town Board of Trade voted to solicit the services of a man qualified to lay out a course and estimate costs, expense of which was to be paid by the Board of Trade. Four potential sites were under consideration. Robert T. Jones of Thompson and Jones, architects of New York was consulted regarding the best location, and a site North of the Village was chosen for the eventual completion of a course of approximately 3,400 yards with a par of 36. Robert Trent Jones had described the land as "sufficiently rolling to provide interest, yet not difficult or tiresome" and "admirably adapted to a nine-hole course".

At that time, the WPA had 65 men in the Town of Hancock on the government payroll. Delaware County WPA Construction Superintendent, Olay Bordon, of Liberty NY was working with the Board of Trade members regarding the possibility of the WPA becoming involved in a golf course project. The Board of Trade, on motion of J.E. McGranaghan and seconded by J. H. Bolles, voted unanimously to petition the Town Board to sponsor a municipal golf course in conjunction with the Works Project Administration. Board of Trade Supervisor Vincent N. Elwood said that in his opinion the community demands something to entertain the traveling public and vacationist and that a golf course would be a decided asset.

In June, 1940, the Town Board agreed to sponsor construction of a golf course with WPA aid. District WPA executive James Conley was favorably impressed with the idea.

On December 13, 1940 the Federal Works Agency in Washington D.C. announced approval to construct a municipal golf course in the Town of Hancock. Under the Works Project Administration (WPA) an allotment of $47,742 was awarded to the Town of Hancock as sponsor of a nine-hole golf course. The sponsorís share (The Town of Hancock) was estimated at $10,000. This $10,000 contribution from the town took the form of the town providing machinery, other equipment and furnishing labor from the unemployment rolls of the town.

A Golf Committee composed of S.S. Busfield, E.J. Kellan, R.W. Busfield, Val. J. Iversen and C. G. Forester, was appointed to solicit funds by popular subscription to purchase land for the course. An estimated $3500 was the goal set by the local committee.

With surveys completed and deeds taken by the end of December, work was scheduled to begin in January of 1941. Approximately 34 acres were transferred from the Ontario, Carbondale and Scranton Railway Company to the Town of Hancock for the Sum of $255. Suydam S. Busfield transferred two separate parcels to the Town, one containing 14.4 acres ($1400) and the other 7.75 acres ($200). George and Nellie Hallstead sold 5.4 acres for $125, and the Hancock Water Company conveyed land to the Town of Hancock for the sum of $150. Addie L. Smith also transferred her home to the Township.

Another piece of ground under consideration was a parcel known as the Fred Krause lot. That lot housed a building in fair shape which it was thought could be utilized as a club house with minor repairs and, renovations.

It was the original intention that all land purchased for the course would come into the hands of the members of the Golf Club, who had produced the finances to purchase the land.

Architect Robert Trent Jones had completed diagrams and surveys and assured the sponsors "one of the finest nine-hole courses in the Southern Tier, unsurpassed for beauty and scenery and one not too hard on the middle- aged".

On March 3rd, 1941, ground was broken and work began by twenty-nine men under the direction of WPA foreman, Cecil Rood. Preliminary work consisted of cutting, trimming and burning trees and brush. Additional manpower would be added as progress continued.

Papers were filed in Albany for a Membership Corporation, and in May of 1941, the Hancock Golf and County Club, Inc. elected officers and continued to solicit funds for the golf course. Officers elected were S.S. Busfield, President; C.G. Forester, Vice-President; Val J. Iversen, Secretary; and J. Everest McGranaghan, Treasurer. At this time, the President, Secretary and Treasurer were authorized to purchase the Henry Krause property, including a building for a club house. It was agreed to continue canvassing for contributors and authorization to borrow up to $1000 from the bank was approved. The Krause property was eventually purchased in 1942 by the Hancock Golf and Country Club, Inc. It included a two story building which housed 4 families at the time of purchase.

About 50% of the course was completed under the WPA project when it was abandoned due to "floods and the war". Sprinkler pipes which had been laid to the locations of the greens and certain areas of the fairways, were all dug up, the metal to be used in the war effort. The land lay dormant and went back to nature.

 

In May of 1946, members of the Hancock Golf and Country Club, Inc. attempted to revive the project. They proposed again to solicit contributions with the intent to raise $5000 to complete the 5 fairways that received the most attention before work was stopped, being the original 5,6,7,8 and 9 fairways. Their ambition was to eventually finish the course started in 1941. New by-laws stated that anyone contributing $50 or more would become a voting member of the organization and issued a stock certificate.

By September 5th, 1946 the solicitors had raised funds of a little over $4500 and work to complete the five holes was begun under the supervision of S.S. Busfield. Weeds, Grass, and light brush were mowed down and removed. The greens were to be started under the supervison of men of experience from the Elkview Country Club at Crystal Lake, PA. John Duggan, pro at the Crystal Lake Club, had 36 years experience in maintaining golf courses and with two assistants, one to work on the greens and the other on the fairways, planned to have the 5 holes suitable for playing the coming season.

On September 12, 1946 at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, a fire destroyed the two story building owned by the Hancock Golf Club and left 3 families homeless. With progress on the course stopped 4 years earlier, the property had been left a residential rental site with the idea of a Club House as a future project. The house caught fire on the roof, probably from a defective chimney. The three families had time to save part of their belongings and by dark found new dwelling places. No one sustained injury in the fire.

By October 17th, 1946 considerable progress had been made on the course. Following the original plans of the architect, Robert Trent Jones, the last five holes were scheduled to be ready for play the next summer. Mr. Jones was in Hancock in October and left the original molds of the greens. Drainage and finishing of the greens along with seeding and fertilizing were planned to be done before winter set in and it was hoped the course would be ready for play in June.

June 28, 1946, five holes were ready to play, despite unfavorable wet, cold weather. Funds were running low in the golf treasury. Much of the work on the grounds had to be done a second time due to heavy rains, and new machinery and equipment had cost a lot of money. George C. Rees had been an assistant to S.S. Busfield in the final days of the courseís completion and it was determined that Mr. Rees would be in charge of the course the first season.

Apparently interest waned and it is reported that the course again returned to grass, weeds, trees and abandonment.

In 1957 the Town was again approached to discuss completing the course. The Hancock Golf and Country Club formed a committee to sell charter memberships at $200 per person to raise enough money to complete and improve the existing course. Fifty people joined and with that $10,000 August Tacea of the Sidney Golf Course was hired to come to Hancock and work for two years to complete the course. The Town voted to spend $3000 in 1958 for work cleaning and clearing parts of the course. People from the "Charter Members Club" of the Hancock Golf and County Club were elected to carry out the management and development of the course. These included C.J. Vandervort, President; J.A. Rillo, Vice President; Andy Senia, Secretary, and James Ramburg, Treasurer. Several members helped with the ground work and local businessman James Ramburg donated use of equipment for the project.

By 1959 the course was in a manner, completed. A lease was entered into between the Town of Hancock and Hancock Golf and County Club, Inc. The lease was to begin November 3, 1959 and end Nov 3, 1979 with an option for an additional 10 years ending Nov. 3, 1989. The Hancock Golf and Country Club was to be responsible for a public course being maintained in reasonable playing condition. The Hancock Golf and Country Club, Inc. then subleased to August Tacea for the same period and considerations.

Hancock finally had itís public golf course in 1959. In 1961 the lease was changed from Tacea to Tacea and Donolai, as T & D Corp.

During the 1960ís local golfers were going to Sidney to play golf. In June 1964, T & D, the leaseholder at that time, offered to buy the golf course land from the Town. The Town Board rejected the offer and in September the Board of Trade requested favorable action on the offer. The Town Board further investigated the possibility and found that according to the New York State Attorney General, the "unofficial opinion was that the land cannot be sold".

During 1965, Mr. Tacea leased the course to Richard and Lucille Howell. In 1971 Lucille Howel leased the course to Charles Buckley who currently operates the course (2009).

Mr. Buckley brought in equipment and proceeded to make substantial improvements to the course at significant financial expense. He also brought in George Kosko, a pro-golfer. Enthusiasm was generated for a new clubhouse and the Hancock Golf and Country Club donated land they had purchased near #5 fairway upon which Mr. Buckley constructed a new 2 story, $300,000 clubhouse, pro-shop, and restaurant, complete with showers and a charter member room. Unfortunately, through business reversals, it was lost. The site is presently known as LaSallete Restaurant.

Mr. Buckley then re-constructed & improved the old clubhouse for a 2nd time and continued to improve the course until 2002 when he began construction of yet another brand new clubhouse, the one that stands today. 


WPA workmen preparing the course in 1941.