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Sinking Valley swings into fifth decade as an 18-hole golf course

Editors note: This is the second of two articles on the Sinking Valley Country Club. Part one was published in Saturday’s edition of The Daily Herald.
Tyrone community leaders, volunteers and others saw a goal which stretched more than a decade come true when Sinking Valley golf course opened in the early 60s.
Long-time community leader Harry Sickler recently detailed events which led to the opening of the course after a railroad-owned course fell into disrepair during World War II. The community acquired land by buying the Beck farm and the course was built with goal and a motto of “off the tee in ‘63.”
Sickler said a contractor from Philadelphia was hired to do the greens and the tees but all the rest of the work was done by volunteers. Scout groups were used and members of the Tyrone Jaycees were given the task of getting the number six hole ready.
Sickler spoke about the direction the club’s members wanted to go, in terms of the club’s image.
“We knew it was going to be a golf course and not a country club,” said Sickler.
He said the old barn on the farm became a clubhouse. The club’s members also sold off some of the acreage of the farm to pay off some of the debt it had incurred.
Sickler explained the club members decided to expand the course a couple of years later with the course becoming 18 holes. He said the back nine was contracted out and was completed in the mid-1960s.
Sickler said club members had made “a continuous effort of putting whatever we had to back into the golf course.”
He said they didn’t worry about having “fancy clubhouses or a swimming pool or anything of that nature.”
Sickler said membership grew from an original 160 who had donated $100 each to get the course of the ground to a membership of more than 450. He said at one point there was a waiting list for members. Now, club membership stands at around 350.
Sickler said about half of the original 160 members weren’t really golfers or had never played golf but were just interested in doing something for the community.
Noting some highlights for the course, Sickler said, over the years, Sinking Valley hosted the Bull Pen Open and former Pitt Panther football coach Foge Fazio had been a guest speaker at many of the banquets.
He said membership is good and gave an assessment of the club’s finances.
“We are putting money in the right places,” said Sickler.
He summed up his view of the course by saying, “It’s just an outstanding golf course, it’s not a country club.”
Sinking Valley Country Club is located off Skelp Mountain Road, at the first stop sign, turn right on to Golf Course Rd. At the next sign, stop except for right turns then bear right and follow Golf Course Road for approximately two to three miles. The course is on the right side of the road.
Sinking Valley’s phone number is 684-0662.
More information can be found about Sinking Valley on the Internet at www.golfable.com/golfcourses/courses/Altoona_PA_Sinking_Valley_Country_Club.