50 Years of Sugarloaf Golf Club

50 Years of Friends, Family and Fun at Sugaloaf

by Judy and Patrick S. Knelly
Sugarloaf Golf Club

Fifty years ago three non-golfing farmers Paul Knelly, brothers Tom & Dave Landis and Malcolm Gramley, a retired state trooper, pooled their land and decided to build the areas first public golf course. Their bank tried to talk them out of it. Their architect tried to talk them out of it. Their families tried to talk them out of it. Their neighbors tried to talk them out of it. They wouldn’t be swayed, secured financing and with the stroke of a pen their collective dream of building Sugarloaf Golf Club came to fruition. Who would have ever though at that time that we’d be writing about 50 years of memories created by these decisions.
Sugarloaf Golf Club was built in 1966 and ready for its grand opening Memorial Day Weekend of 1967. A 1790s barn was converted into a clubhouse which is still used today and currently undergoing renovations that will enhance the character of the original barn.
Several area golfers signed up as members that first year including James Buyarski of West Hazleton who is still a member. Several other charter members were Reverend Richard Abernathy, Johnny Rosenstock, Brick Briding, Charles Catherman and Walter Vorblesky. Many others followed throughout the years and we are proud to be home to one of most active and close knit memberships among area pulic courses.
With expansive views of the surrounding valley, Sugarloaf immediately attracted golfers from out of the area and became home to the PPL Golf League which continues to play every Tuesday throughout the summer months. PPL league was soon followed by golfers from Valmont Industrial Park, Dorr Oliver, All Steel and the Hazleton Elks. In the early 1980s, women began hitting the links in full force and the Sugar Babes Ladies Golf League was formed and still welcomes area women to enjoy fellowship Thursday evenings.
Sugarloaf has been recognized by readers of the Times Leader Newspaper as having the best greens in Northeast PA, the most difficult hole (our par 3 15th hole is a long carry over a water hazard onto an undulating green that is protected by a bunker and woods) and the most scenic finishing hole (the 18th at the ‘Loaf offers tremendous views of the McCauley Mountain.
Today, Wayne, Judy & Patrick Knelly (second and third generation of one of the original partners) are still at the helm actively operating Sugarloaf as one of the few remaining family owned and operated golf courses in all of PA. We are proud to carry on the tradition of Sugarloaf Golf Club, and we thank all of you who have made this journey so fun, rewarding and successful! In the near future we will be begining the 50th anniversary celebration with some really unique ways of giving back to the local golf community and also with a few special events to celebrate with all of our friends!

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