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Sunnehanna History

Where Legacies Began


On September 8, 1923, Sunnehanna Country Club opened. The name Sunnehanna was the Native American name for the river now known as the Stoneycreek, meaning "slow moving stream". Out-of-town members traveled to Johnstown in their private Pullman Cars for the grand  opening.  Sixty players played in the first golf tournament. A large audience surrounded the swimming pool and watched an aquatics show.  Inside, an orchestra furnished music for dancing. Others milled about the Club's corridors spending time in the billiards room and the bowling alleys.  When complete, Sunnehanna Country Club was a source of pride not only for its members, but the community at large.  The spectacular views coupled with the course, swimming pool, tennis courts, bridal path, and clubhouse, rivaled other big city clubs.  Activities abounded at the Club.  Sunnehanna Country Club had become what its founders had hoped for, the center of the social lives of the Club's members and their families.
In 1929, the biggest event of the year occurred, Johnstown's first airport opened with much fanfare at Sunnehanna, as it ran alongside the eleventh hole. The dedication included David Ingals, assistant  Secretary of the Navy, Charles Schwab, chairman of Bethlehem Steel, and famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart.
In 1934, the clubhouse was almost entirely renovated.  William Flynn, another of golf's finest architects, was hired to redesign the course.  Sunnehanna Country Club's survival through the Depression and World War II was no small feat.  From 1932 through 1952, 200 new clubs opened, and 600 disappeared.
The Sunnehanna Amateur began in 1956.  The Sunnehanna Amateur quickly became one of the best amateur tournaments in the country, and 2010 celebrated the 57th tournament for champions.
1970 marked a decade of great change.  As the nation struggled, the future collapse of the domestic steel industry was imminent for Johnstown.  The demise of steel making in Johnstown changed Sunnehanna and the community. However, Sunnehanna adapted to a new world and moved forward.

Memories Began.
Future Golf Legends Were Made.
Social and Civic History Took Shape...
The Legacy that Became Sunnehanna.