York Town Square

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Why is Hanover Country Club in Abbottstown?

Gordon Freireich, York Daily Record/Sunday News columnist, raised the question in a recent piece about why the Hanover Country Club is in Abbottstown, not Hanover.
Mary Hamilton devoted many pages to the club and its founding in her recently published biography of J.W. Gitt, “Rising from the Wilderness.”… .

She didn’t get directly at the question – so there might never be a good answer – but she provides a bunch of information on its founding.
Gitt and several partners started the country club on a horse farm near Abbottstown, five miles from Hanover. A renovated barn provided the first clubhouse.
Harper Sheppard and Clinton Myers of Hanover Shoe Company and Howard Young of J.S. Young Company joined Gitt as investors, but Gitt was the only real golf enthusiast in Hanover. They left it up to the newspaper publisher to design and build the course.
Gitt brought in Jimmy Govan from the vaunted Pine Valley course in New Jersey to work on the new course, which benefited from well-fertilized meadows from its horse-farm days.
No machines were used to level the ground.
“We took the ground as it was and laid it out,” Gitt explained. “We added grass, the grass grew up, then we proceeded to level things off a bit for greens, and went on to lay out the eighteen holes.”
In the end, Gitt and his partners spent $15,000 to purchase the farm and $10,000 for grass seed, planting of trees and work on the greens.
The trees were a major project. In those early years, the partners planted 40,000 trees.
“We planted them around the fairways so they would be fairly narrow, but with plenty of room for the straight shooters.”
This leads to my favorite story about Gitt, related in Hamilton’s book and in a previous post. But it’s so good, I’m repeating it here:
Harvey Loucks of York was playing a round at Hanover when he saw an elderly man on the course:

He was in a golf cart which was being driven by a much younger and rather attractive woman. She would help the man from the cart, give him a club, and he would hit the ball about 20 yards, straight down the middle of the fairway. Then he would slowly, almost painfully, climb back into the cart with the assistance of the woman.
This routine was repeated the whole way to the green, where the man’s approach shot left him a virtual tap-in to complete the hole. I mentioned to the other coach that that’s how I’d like to spend my last couple years: in my 90’s, on a golf course, hitting it down the middle, with a young woman to drive me around the course. The coach chuckled and said that that old guy had done things this way, in his own eccentric style, through his whole life. Of course, it was none other than J.W. Gitt.

(To order Mary’s book, see www.yorkheritage.org.)

J.W. Gitt plays a round at Hanover Country Club at age 88. Gitt helped found the country club. This photograph came from Mary Hamilton’s recent biography on Gitt, “Rising from the Wilderness.” Background post: J.W. Gitt: ‘Just say it … straight out’