THE FOUNDRY GOLF CLUB HISTORY
The Foundry Golf Club rests on one of the most naturally stunning properties in Virginia. The rolling terrain, native vegetation, and scattered rock outcroppings, combine with the meandering banks of Fine Creek to showcase the beautiful Piedmont countryside.
This land was once valued by the Monacan Indians for its fertile soils and access to the James River. The Monacans were a part of the Catawba tribe of the Sioux and unlike the more friendly Powhatan, they resisted the colonization of the Virginia countryside vehemently. As more settlers arrived in the Piedmont, however the Monacans were forced to move west. After years of conflict they finally established a home near Bear Mountain in Amherst County. These Native Americans are most famously known for their unique burial mounds found throughout the region. They however, were also great innovators, mining copper and domesticating many plants.
In the early 1700's, the French Huguenots settled within the abandoned Monacan tribal area along the southern bank of the James River. Previously they had lived in England to escape religious persecution from King Louis XIV.
In England, the Huguenots were treated as temporary refugees, waiting until the policies in France changed again. In the New World, however, the colonies tried to recruit the Huguenots as permanent settlers. Virginia was land-rich and people-poor, and Protestant refugees were prime targets for expanding the local population. and after rendering services to the King were granted a permanent settlement in Colonial America.
As part of a large immigration to Colonial America, four ships left England to deliver many Huguenots to Virginia. The Mary and Ann, Peter and Anthony, and Nassau deposited many of their passengers on the 10,000 acres granted to them by the King along the James. They built small outposts and homes by the river. Many of these original structures and land development patterns are still clearly evident in the surrounding area.
A key landholder here was Bennet Goode, a well known farmer and a delegate to Virginia's Colonial Convention in 1775. He was married to Martha Jefferson, an aunt of future President Thomas Jefferson. According to numerous records he owned substantial tracts of land along the James River, helped develop a ferry across the river in 1742, and created a tavern, later known as Bagby Tavern. He and Martha lived within a modest home named "Clifton Hill" to the southeast of Fine Creek Mills.
Through the years Mr. Goode's large landholding was slowly broken into pieces and deeded to family or sold. A future resident of this land was Dr. William Turpin, a member of another prominent Virginia family and related through marriage to the Jeffersons. A remnant family cemetery from the Turpin's home place is located near the 6th green. While it has been overgrown by vegetation at least one marker can been seen.
~The Entrepreneurial Spirit~
The experience of being at the Foundry Golf Club revolves around the original buildings that rest along Fine Creek. This clubhouse setting is unlike any other and provides inspiration to the entire property.
According to the following Club document the Foundry Building was first established in the early 1800's by a group of entrepreneurial investors:
According to historical records, after breakfast the next morning the group of officers, joined by Gen. Lee's son and nephew departed for Richmond meeting his family at their home on East Franklin Street.
~The Artist Transforms a Vision~
In October 1935, the Foundry ruins were purchased by Elizabeth Bollee, Contesse J. de Vautibault and artist Julien Binford. Binford was born in Powhatan County on Chirstmas Day, 1908. At the age of 15, he moved with his family to Atlanta, where he was later encouraged to pursue a medical profession at Emory University. As a student, he developed a fascination with the graphics and drawings within the medical texts and decided to learn to paint. With a varied response from his parents, Binford set out to study art. After failed attempts to study oversees, he returned to Atlanta where Ronald McKinney, the Director of the Atlanta High Museum, encouraged him to try the Art Institute of Chicago. There he excelled, and received the Edward L. Ryerson Traveling Fellowship. The $2500 award presented to him in 1932, allowed Binford to study in Paris for three years.
He returned to Virginia in 1935, with Elizabeth Bollee, and bought the Foundry property. They lived in a "windy shack with no water, no lights, and no heat located on Lee's Landing Road northeast of the Foundry." The surroundings were an inspiration to Binford and he built a relationship with his African American neighbors, using them as the subject of his work on numerous occasions. One of his most famous works is the mural titled "The Lord Over Jordan" in Shiloh Baptist Church in Powhatan.
In the 1940's he developed a relationship with a gallery in New York City. The success of his work allowed Binford and Elizabeth to move to Manhattan and he was commissioned by Life magazine in 1944 to paint a series called "New York Harbor at War". While in New York, he continued to refine his vision of the old Foundry and upon returning to Virginia they began to undertake the massive reconstruction of the buildings.
His new life back in Virginia included a 25 year relationship with University of Mary Washington in Fredricksburg. There he was a dedicated art professor and is considered the school's most "motivational figure" of the 1940's. As stated on Mary Washington's web site:
~The Founding Vision~
In the late 1980's, a group of Richmond businessmen purchased a remnant parcel of timber land on the southern side of the James River in Powhatan County. This land was part of a general investment, with no clear vision of what it would become. The tract simply had an inherent value in its natural resources and more complex possibilities as a development. Near the same time, a constituency of golfers, including a number of these gentlemen, became interested in the establishment of a true golf club in the Greater Richmond area. There were no golf only facilities in the region and the politics and distractions associated with the local country clubs had created a great amount of interest in this idea. The pursuit was unique to Richmond but not other Mid Atlantic Cities. Golf clubs such as Burning Tree (Washington, D.C.), Sunnybrook (Philadelphia, PA), Caves Valley (Baltimore, MD), and Bidermann (Wilmington, DE) had all been created out of this philosophy and each was responsible for creating a very treasured golf experience.
J.K. Timmons, a very successful civil engineer, led the golf only initiative in searching for the right location for their retreat. While the group had considered the timber property in Powhatan, it did not possess enough character to form the golf course they had envisioned. As a number of potential locations were being discussed, a new property in Powhatan came onto the real estate market. It was the estate developed by Julien Binford on Fine Creek. The partners quickly jumped at the opportunity to purchase the one of a kind property. The land in this parcel was approximately 100 acres in size and included the original Foundry building and its associated outbuildings.
The breathtaking setting of the old Foundry buildings on Fine Creek became the focus of potential for the new golf club. A problem arose however, because the Binford property was too small for the new layout. The original timber parcel was nearby but a large section of land separated the two tracts. Through negotiations and with time the group, soon to be known as the Founders, acquired the missing section of land and now held over 1600 acres for the new golf club.
The Foundry Golf Club now had a home. It would be centered around a single membership structure with a President acting as the sole governing force. The design and atmosphere of the club would provide the purest golf experience with an old Virginian touch and without the detractions of other country club style amenities.
The Clubhouse and its natural surroundings were unlike any other course in the eastern United States. The last step was to find the best golf holes on the vast property now held by the group. With endless opportunities at every turn, Mr. Timmons went to work walking the property identifying the key land forms and ideal green locations.
J.K. Timmons was born and raised in South Carolina and studied civil engineering at Clemson University. His drive to be the best at whatever he attempted aided his development of the civil engineering firm Shropshitre-Timmons, in Richmond in 1953. Two years later, he became the principal of J.K. Timmons & Associates, and was shortly thereafter awarded the contract to provide construction survey support to the Richmond - Petersburg Turnpike (that would become a key stretch of I-95). By 1964, his company had over 35 employees and a new office on West Main Street. With the continued growth of the business and a strong construction market, his partnership merged into a corporation in 1973 and formed its first branch office on Staples Mill Road in 1976. Mr. Timmons worked diligently to build his company into one of the largest engineering firms in the state and created departments in nearly every branch of construction, design, and project management by the mid-1980's.
After years of professional growth and countless successes, Mr. Timmons retired from the firm in 1985. Leaving its operation to one of the corporation's longest stockholders, Charles Warren, Timmons turned his attention to a number of other ventures. The firm that he built still bears his name today, as the Timmons Group. With over 350 employees in 10 different offices, it is one of the greatest firms of its type in the country.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, J.K. Timmons developed a love for the game of golf. He took pride in studying the golf swing, loved to practice and enjoyed the nuances of agronomy and golf course design. He traveled a great deal and played numerous golf courses of varied style and substance. Through his experiences he made detailed notes about golf features that appealed to his eye and he relished the historical value of the game and those who had built its popularity in the world. This passion for golf lead him to assist in the establishment of both Willow Oaks Country Club and Salisbury Country Club, where he served terms as President of each.
Mr. Timmons' greatest golf feat however was the development of the Foundry. After the Founders settled on the Fine Creek property, Timmons along with his son Jeffery set out to make the best layout possible on the land. Once they had developed a solid routing they contacted noted Virginian golf architect, R.F. Loving, Jr. Mr. Loving made a number of site visits to the property as a consultant and only appeared to make modest suggestions to the playability and strategy of the golf course.
The vision for the new golf club was complete in late 1991. It would fully respect the outstanding natural topography on which it sat and it would speak to the much beloved golf architecture of the early 20th century.
The golf experience created by Mr. Timmons and the Founders strived to combine a quality golf course with a certain camaraderie between members. The course was laid out so that it could be enjoyed by foot and a caddy program was an important part of the vision. Plans were also made to create a guest house on the grounds. The Lodge, as it would be called, provided for overnight stays for out of town members and guests and further enhanced the charm of the golf facility.
THE ORIGINAL ROUTING AND PLAN FOR THE FOUNDRY GOLF CLUB
R. F. LOVING, JR
Raymond Franklin Loving, Jr was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1926. His father, Raymond, Sr. was a prospering assistant golf course architect to Fred Findlay. Mr. Findlay, was Raymond, Sr.'s father-in-law and the younger brother of Alex Findlay, a Scottish immigrant who came to the United States in the early 1880's to work on a ranch in Nebraska.
The elder Findlay found that the ground in Nebraska was suitable for the game of golf he so loved and laid out the first course there in 1885. This was the beginning of a long golf course architecture career where he designed over 100 courses in 19 different states. Most of his layouts were developed in the first two decades of the 1900's and they mostly followed a more engineered form than those designs of the 1920-30's. Many of his designs were the first rendition for very well known courses of today - such as Aronimink G.C., Tavistock C.C., and Pittsburgh Field Club.
Fred Findlay arrived in the United States years after Alex and developed his own golf course design business in Virginia. He worked throughout the Mid-Atlantic but completed a majority of his work in Virginia. This is were he developed a relationship son-in-law Raymond, Sr. and later his grandson Raymond, Jr. Fred Findlay is credited with the design of many of the great golf courses in Virginia including Boonsboro C.C., Farmington C.C., Hunting Hills C.C., and Keswick Club among others.
R. F. Loving, Jr. known by most as Buddy, studied at the University of Virginia, Phillips College, and Virginia Tech. He joined his grandfather and dad in 1946 as a part time designer. In the 1960's, Buddy partnered with Algie Pulley to form GolfAmerica, a design and construction firm. They worked together for a number of years before going their separate ways. Mr. loving continued to work on and off throughout Virginia until his death. Mr. Loving completed such designs as Lake Monticello G.C., Shenandoah Crossings Farm and Club, and Water's Edge G.C. One of his best design consultations however was the collaboration with Mr. Timmons in the creation of the Foundry Golf Club.