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Historic Schenectady Muni to Undergo Enhancements
Golf course architect Robert McNeil recently completed a comprehensive enhancement plan for Schenectady Municipal Golf Course in New York. The historic course was built in the 1930s as part of the Work Progress Administration (WPA) program developed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The course's genesis has been documented by Andrew Morris, currently an associate professor at Schenectady's Union College, in a piece entitled, "The Great Depression and Schenectady's New Deal Golf Course."
Before the course came to fruition, Morris notes that the project had strong local support. "There is no reason why golf can't be a game for the wage earner," wrote Schenectady Union Star's sports editor, Daniel Duval. "Only months before in the winter of 1932-33 national unemployment was estimated to be at 25% . . . and private clubs were hemorrhaging members."
That 80-year-old observation has a modern ring to it.
According to Morris, the overall plan for Schenectady's course was built around functional, strategic and aesthetic improvements intended to embrace the natural flow of the property, present the property to golfers in a broader visual sense, and to engage and challenge players of all levels. Jim Thompson was the original architect.
Morris' study also states that the funding for the construction of the course can be traced through a variety of government-sponsored work-relief programs, including the WPA, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and New York's Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA).
The work by McNeil and his firm, Northeast Golf Company, will commence this fall. The plan involves improvements to drainage and irrigation systems and the execution of a course-wide, tree-management program. These projects will be followed by extensive bunker work, including adding new ones, reshaping existing traps and relocating others.
The tees will also be expanded to give the course greater set-up variety for all players.