Ellwood City, PA
Of all the nutty and wonderful people that Hurdzan/Fry has worked for, Rick Hvizdak might be the king of unforgettable characters. Rick is a self-made wealthy man who appreciates his situation. His offhand business deals are legendary. Once he gets an idea, he seems to conjure up a special magic that turns it into a gold mine.
Who else would envision building an 18-hole golf course into the side of a mountain in remote Ellwood City, Pennsylvania and build a replica of an English castle for the clubhouse? Rick did.
Or put a restaurant in that clubhouse with food so good that it would draw people from Youngstown and Cleveland and the wait for a table would be at least and hour and a half? Only Rick.
Who would go to Europe just to buy medieval decorations for the clubhouse? Buy a rock quarry just to get enough stone for retaining walls? Buy a house, just to tear it down to add a few more yards to a back tee? Rick did all that.
Who would have the gumption to charge more than double the prevailing public green fee, compared even to Pittsburgh 45 miles away? Or turn down an offer of over $20 million for the course, clubhouse and restaurant. That's Rick Hvizdak, and that's Olde Stonewall Golf Club.
Even if Rick wasn’t a financially sound risk-taker, he'd still rank as our most unforgettable character simply because he's a great guy to be with. We love to tell audacious stories about Rick, like the time a past president of the USGA was at Olde Stonewall and drove his golf cart too close to a tee. Rick went over and chewed him out with some pretty salty language. Rick is truly larger than life. Did I mention he made the maintenance building to look like a castle? Or that he bought a bunch of animal sculptures and placed them all over the course?
Olde Stonewall is simply spectacular. We deftly routed the golf course through some very golf unfriendly terrain, and took on the task of making the golf holes work. Some holes flow gently across an old strip mine, others climb aggressively up the mountainside, still others seem to free-fall from bluff tops to perfectly maintained landing areas and one, the 474-yard par-4 16th, plays over two unmaintained protected-animal corridors to a hillside green. The hole is a thrilling adventure from beginning to end. In fact, so is the whole course.
The atmosphere at Olde Stonewall is fun loving, the golf course is challenging, the views breathtaking, and each round should be memorable. Just don’t drive your golf cart too close to a green when Rick is there.