In 1923 a group of Syracuse businessmen and professionals, all of them avid golfers, set out to build “a club within the means of the average golfer where golf will be of primary importance and social functions nil. First and last for golf,” they proclaimed.
The group financed its effort with $100.00 shares of stock and later that year purchased the Dora Tuff farm in Marcellus, choosing the land, in part, because the tract was, in part, accessible via the Auburn Trolley which would cut through the course with a station near what is now the twelfth green. In fact, during the club’s early years, members would ride the trolley to the course from Syracuse, quickly play nine holes and then hop back on the trolley as it headed back to Syracuse. The Tuff farmhouse also would serve as the first clubhouse until it burned and a new clubhouse was erected in 1938. (Original Stock Certificate)
The group then hired noted golf course architect Seymour Dunn who surveyed the land and, in an April 25, 1924 letter to the club, noted that “the ground and location are ideally suited” for a golf course. Tuscarora “should be an extremely popular course requiring players to use every club in their bag, he noted. (Seymour Dunn’s Original Plan)
Dunn was right and the club flourished throughout the 1920s and 1930s until World War II came along. During the war, gas rationing made it difficult for members to drive to the club and even more difficult for the club to buy gas for the mowers and the club closed.
In 1947 however, a pair of brothers, just discharged from the Army, who had grown up just down the street from the club and had caddied there as kids purchased the club.
But the course Bill and Henry Bednarski purchased had not been cut in years because of the wartime shortages. So the first thing they did was to set it on fire. “I went around the course with a walk-behind plow and furrowed all around the perimeter,” Bill Bednarski told The Post-Standard several years ago. When the wind was right, the brothers set two fires, the main one at the south end of the plot, and a backfire at the north end to keep the primary blaze from jumping over it. Within two hours the overgrowth was gone. What remained were the charred, but unmistakable contours of the old course.
Bill, who served as course superintendent for the next 50 years, and Henry then started growing grass. They opened the 10 holes south of the trolley line in 1947 and charged members $35 for dues. They opened the remaining 8 holes in 1948 and dues skyrocketed to $45.
Since 1949, Tuscarora Golf Club Inc, has leased the club from Bill and Henry (and now their children and grandchildren) and Tuscarora has continued to flourish as a club for golfers of all abilities. The club has hosted events sponsored by the Syracuse District Golf Association, the New York State Golf Association and the United States Golf Association. Numerous improvements to the course and clubhouse have been made throughout the years but today’s Tuscarora remains faithful to its roots.
It remains, as a brochure from its early days touts, “a championship course of the first caliber that tests the ability of the expert, but is designed primarily to make golf perpetually more interesting and fair to the average player.”