New Hope, PA
The four most common reasons to build a golf course are: 1) to sell green fees; 2) to sell memberships; 3) to sell housing lots; and 4) to sell overnight lodging. But every once in a while an individual comes along who wants to build a golf course for none of those reasons. He's not even a golfer, knows little about the game, but feels he should own a golf course. That describes a man we admire very much, Nick Karabots. A self-made millionaire in the printing and publishing business, Nick enjoys his success by renovating and restoring classic old buildings, a hobby that usually makes him even more money. Nick was one of the toughest, most business-savvy clients we've ever had. As a result, we've learned a lot from him and his family members in his businesses. Nick loves quality things but refuses to overpay for anything. Since he'd never built a golf course before, we had the tough job of convincing him to part with some money - a lot of his money, it turned out - to produce the quality golf club that is today Jericho National.
The name of the golf course comes from a nearby geographical feature called Jericho Mountain, which sits near the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near the site where General George Washington and his troops crossed into New Jersey.
Nick not only bought a beautiful farm of several hundred acres and it's elegant manor house with indoor swimming pool, but he also bought several homes in the historic little river town of Brownsburg adjacent to the farm, where he is now restoring many of its oldest buildings.
To the uninitiated, it might have seemed that the farm was well-suited to a golf course and would require very little earthmoving to construct. Even I thought that until we started doing some routings and found that the naturally-occurring ridges and valleys occurred mostly in the wrong places. We were constrained by wetlands and a protected tributary to the Delaware River, as well as out parcels, county roads, state roads and a small development to the east. I shouldn't forget to mention this is Bucks County, affluent enough to not want or need any new development. So the choices we presented Nick were either a modestly priced but marginally good golf course, or a much more expensive but super golf course. As I said, it took a bit of convincing to get Nick to spend dollars, until he realized the quality the extra expenses would bring. The team convinced Nick he should go for quality, and quality he got.
This was a huge earthmoving project, because we had to cut hills and fill valleys to provide the proper sightlines, wide landing areas, positive surface drainage and space between holes. Rock layers further complicated the problem of earthmoving, as did the effort to save every tree possible, because Nick likes trees.
Jericho National has an impressive variety of golf holes. One of our favorites is the par-3 12th, just 150 yards from the back tee, with the green fronted by a significant bunker that is a mere 15-feet-deep but looks much deeper and more maniacal. Another favorite is the par-4 eighth that lies along the length of our irrigation pond. It looks much more severe than it really plays.
As an expert in buildings, Nick treated the clubhouse as his baby. His attention to detail can be seen everywhere, but for most golfers after an exhilarating round at Jericho National, the choice spot is on the large second-story balcony that provides breathtaking panoramas of the course and the colorful hills that make Bucks County so famous.