Big Spring Country Club

Since 1926

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History of Big Spring Country Club

"In the Spring of 1926 a group of gentlemen held a meeting and determined to acquire a tract of land, with the view of ultimately forming a golf club, such tract to be in Jefferson County, and sufficiently near the City of Louisville to make it easily accessible, and to have all the conveniences necessary to make a complete golf course." So reads the 1926 Prospectus of the Big Spring Land Company. Known then as the R.S. Veech Beargrass Stock Farm, this 163-acre tract of land borders the Middle Fork of Beargrass Creek and features one of the more historic springs in Jefferson County. "Big Spring" still flows today near the 13th hole of our club.

Depression, war years and a new name

Big Spring Golf Club survived the stock market crash of 1929 and weathered the Great Depression of the 1930’s – events that undermined other clubs less resilient. With its proximity to Louisville’s first airport, Bowman Field, Big Spring supported the WWII war effort by creating special memberships for military personnel. Through the '50's and '60's the Club experienced significant membership growth and, with the growing popularity of swimming and tennis changed its name in 1960 to the Big Spring Country Club.

Famed Scottish Tom Winton designed the course. (Later he renovated the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club in Washington, DC).  He designed courses to challenge the best golfers in the world, without making the game too difficult for everyday players. He seemed to accomplish this with very subtle green makeups that allow for a wide variety of pin locations, ranging from reachable to extremely difficult. George Davies acted as construction engineer and served as both property superintendent and club manager from 1926 to 1931. In anticipation of the 1952 PGA championship, William Diddle remodeled the course in 1951. After the construction of interstate Highway I-64 clipped a portion of the course in 1964, Larry Packard redesigned several holes on the north side. Famed modern architect Rees Jones finished a complete remodel in 2004. 

Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan

In 1946 Jack Ryan, who grew up in Derby, Connecticut, became the third Golf Professional at Big Spring Golf Club. He followed Mel Arnett ( 1945 - 1946 ) and Ray Ottman ( 1932 - 1944 ). Previously, Mr. Ryan in 1936 had been named at age 29 the Head Golf Professional at Louisville Country Club, where he remained until taking the same position after WWII at Big Spring Golf Club. Mr. Ryan retired in 1976 after 30 years of service to the Big Spring Country Club membership.
Mr. Ryan arguably could be called one of the greatest Golf Professionals of all time in Kentucky. He won the Kentucky Open his first year in Kentucky in 1936 and followed that victory with 9 more with his last being in 1959. He won 6 Kentucky PGA titles and in 1958 was named Kentucky PGA Professional of the Year. 
Nationally, Mr. Ryan played in 3 Masters ( finishing 15th in 1941 ), 7 US Opens, 6 PGA Championships, including the 1952 PGA tournament played at Big Spring. He missed the playoff for the final spot in Match Play by one shot. In the 1939 PGA tournament played at Flushing Meadows, New York, he defeated Gene Sarazen one up. In addition to his playing career, Mr. Ryan served as President of the PGA Seniors' 1960 - 1961 and, in 1963, was named a Vice President of the PGA of America. 
In 1985 Mr. Ryan was inducted into the KY Golf Hall of Fame. In 1990 Mr. Ryan was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame along with Amos Martin, Clem Haskins, Dan Issel, Jerry Claiborne, Louie Dampier and another Big Spring / Harmony Landing member Louise Wilson. March 7, 2005 the KY section of the PGA of America officially dedicated the KY Open Trophy as The Jack Ryan Trophy. 
In 2001 the Club's Member - Guest was named The Jack Ryan Invitational. Upon retirement in 1976 Mr. and Mrs. Ryan ( Dean ) were given Lifetime Memberships in the Club. Unfortunately, Mr. Ryan died in 1992 but Mrs. Ryan in her '90's continues to enjoy her membership. As a statement of their appreciation Big Spring CC members dedicated a plaque located near the putting green and 1st tee. Next time you are headed to the 1st tee for your round or to practice putting, stop by and read the plaque. 

1952 PGA Championship

In 1952 Big Spring became the first golf club in Kentucky to host a major tournament -- the PGA Championship. Jim Turnesa won the grueling 7-day tournament – which consisted of a 36-hole stroke play qualifying round coupled with 6 rounds of match play. Early round wins included victories over big names Bob Toski and Roberto de Vicenzo. Temperatures in the high 90's and afternoon thunderstorms presented daily challenges to the staff and grounds crew. Saturday thunderstorms washed out play for the day, delaying the final match to Wednesday. Turnesa was 3 down at one point to Chick Harbart, never gaining the lead of the 36-hole match till the difficult final hole, which he parred while Harbart bogeyed. Jim's one-up victory netted him winnings of $3,500. In 2022, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of his 1952 victory, the club added Jim Turnesa’s name to their annual Pro-Member Invitational.
Jim Turnesa


Clubhouse Renovation

Joseph H. Kolbrook designed the original clubhouse soon after the club's founding. In 2018 the club membership voted to make a significant investment in renovating the Big Spring clubhouse and expansion of athletic facilities. A grand, high-ceilinged entrance hall topped with a round cupola was constructed to greet those entering from the parking area in back. A new golf pro shop was added, along with 3 indoor hitting bays equipped with the latest Trackman® technology.  Alongside, the “Bunker Bar” was built, including a small putting area to further the entertainment. Upstairs, an expanded modern fitness center, with the latest exercise equipment, now serves all the members. Both men’s and women’s locker rooms were completely updated, featuring steam and sauna. With the inclusion of a separate studio for fitness classes, rooms for massages, and salon services, Big Spring offers a complete health package that rivals the finest resort. Newly expanded and renovated dining rooms comfortably manage large social and special event functions, including formal weddings, business meetings, and high-school proms. Most popular is the outdoor bar and greenside dining area, where many golfers choose to cool down and relax after a round in the summer heat.


History of Harmony Landing Country Club

While Harmony Landing Country Club was officially incorporated in 1953, the club's roots trace back to 1926 when work began on a "real golf course for real golfers, with no society gatherings". In 1926, located 14 miles north of Louisville, Meadowbrook Golf Course came into existence to serve those golfers. Chosen as designer and construction manager was George Davies, one and the same who built and managed Big Spring. John C. Pierce set aside 135 acres of a 435-acre tract of land for the daily fee "pay and play" course. Two more courses were planned at the time, but never built.
Unfortunately, the stock market crash in 1929 caused Meadowbrook to close. A re-organization effort brought the course back to life in 1930 as the Green Fields Golf Club. Yet again, the dire economic conditions of the Great Depression took its toll, with yearly rounds played dropping from 14,000 to 7,000. Green Fields closed in the early 1930's and Mr. Pierce took back the property.
In 1933, wealthy heiress Henrietta Bingham bought (or was gifted) the property with the intention of breeding horses and Border terriers. Miss Bingham was the daughter of multi-millionaire Robert Worth Bingham, ambassador to the Court of St. James and the owner of the Louisville Courier-Journal. In 1950, she sold the 400-acre farm for $100,000, and 18 months later the remaining 35 acres including the house for $60,000 to Almond Cooke, owner of a successful motor car dealership.
In 1952, Vernon Shallcross, Douglass Potter, Patrick Calhoun and other friends (most of whom were members of the Louisville Country Club, River Valley Club, or Wynn-Stay Club) felt it desirable to consider starting a new club on the east side of Louisville. In 1953, the Harmony Land Company was incorporated by former Louisville Mayor Wilson Wyatt, Kenneth Reutlinger, and Gordon Miller. They bought all 430 acres, with 200 acres to be used for the club and 230 acres to be subdivided for residential development. A 13-acre lake stocked with fish afforded ample sport for the angler, and plans were made for croquet, polo, badminton, and skeet. The nationally recognized design firm Olmsted Brothers (founded by Frederick Law Olmsted) were brought in to assist in laying out the property. Hub Rudy made the surveys. Wilbert Simpson was named the club's first golf pro and groundskeeper. 


On April 1, 2014, Big Spring Country Club and Harmony Landing Country Club merged to form Big Spring Country Club, Kentucky’s largest and most prestigious country club. The Big Spring Campus and the Harmony Landing Campus provide the membership both a suburban and rural club experience. Members enjoy two championship golf courses, two Olympic size swimming pools, and two sets of racquet courts including tennis, paddle tennis and the increasingly popular pickleball. 

Justin Thomas

 The Commonwealth of Kentucky has produced its share of PGA Tour players but it's safe to say that no Kentucky golfer has accomplished more, in such a short time, than Justin Thomas. Justin turned Professional in 2013 and through 2023 has won: 
- The 2017 and 2022 PGA Championship
- 15 PGA Tour events
- Played in two Ryder Cups, 3 Presidents Cups, and the 2020 Olympics 
- 2017 Tour Player of the Year
- 2017 and 2020 PGA of America Player of the Year 
His amateur career included winning four major tournaments, including the 2009 Kentucky State High School Championship, the 2012 and 2013 SEC Conference Individual and Team Championships, and the 2013 NCAA Division 1 National Championship, the last three of which were while at the University of Alabama. In case you are wondering, the only other Kentucky golfer to win one of Professional Golf’s Majors was Bobby Nichols, who won the PGA Championship in 1964.   
Justin was born in Louisville in 1993 and grew up in Goshen, Kentucky.  His father, Mike, was the Head Golf Professional at Harmony Landing Country Club from 1990 until 2020. Justin was literally raised at Harmony Landing as his mom, Jani, ran the Pro Shop while Dad taught lessons, ran tournaments and, whenever he had time, worked with Justin on his game. Harmony's range and golf course were Justin’s “back yard". Mike is currently Golf Professional Emeritus at the Harmony Landing Course. 
Mike Thomas grew up in Ohio where his dad, Paul, was Head Golf Professional at Zanesville CC. Paul Thomas was an accomplished player who won numerous tournaments in Ohio and played in PGA Championships and USGA Championships with the likes of Hogan, Palmer, and Nicklaus. 
Given grandfather Paul's golfing career there was little doubt as to Mike's and Justin's future in golf. Mike took his golfing talent to Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. After graduation he started his own golfing career as an Assistant Golf Professional at a couple clubs in Pennsylvania and in 1987 became the Head Golf Professional at Cherrington Golf Club in Pittsburgh. After arriving at Harmony Landing in 1990, Mike, too, was successful on the golf course winning eight tournaments and qualifying for the PGA National Senior Professional Tournament and the PGA Club Professional Tournament. Mike was KY-PGA Golf professional of the Year in 1997 and has served or is serving on a number KY-PGA and PGA Board of Directors and is a member of the Titleist Leadership Staff and a Titleist Ambassador. 
Justin's golfing career is off and running and his future looks very bright. Justin and his new bride Jillian were married in 2022 and the Club's membership is proud to call the Thomas family fellow members of Big Spring Country Club. 

Today and Tomorrow

Big Spring Country Club reached its peak level of membership in 2022.  Facilities at both the Big Spring and Harmony Landing campuses match those of any club in the region. Golf and tennis programs are available to those of all skill levels. Junior programs remain highly popular; tomorrow’s future stars are being groomed today. Our youth compete at all levels of swimming and diving.  We include former Olympians in our membership. Thirteen Big Spring Country Club members have been inducted to the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, six members have won Kentucky State Amateur golf titles and two members have been inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.  Big Spring golf professionals over the years have held sixteen Kentucky State Open titles. Numerous members have won state high-school tennis championships.
We honor and are forever grateful to those members who came before us. Their foresight, hard work, dedication, and commitment in making our club better every year is inspirational. Even with such a rich history, we believe the best is yet to come for Big Spring Country Club.