Golf Course

Willow Brook Golf Course to reopen under new management

A view from the patio at Willow Brook Golf Course
A view from the patio at Willow Brook Golf Course

Willow Brook Golf Course, the 95-year-old Catasauqua facility that became a nine-hole course this year, will reopen under new management in 2020.

Brown Golf Group, a Camp Hill company that manages 29 courses in seven states, has taken over operations from the Fuller Family Trust. Willow Brook, which closed Sept. 30, is scheduled to reopen April 1, 2020, said John Brown, chief executive officer of Brown Golf.

“It’s a little bit of an oasis in Allentown,” Brown said. “When you get on that plot of land, there’s a different feeling. It’s an experience. The history of the property is a big part of the place. You’re not going to see us talk just about the golf course. You’ll hear us talk about the entire property.”

Willow Brook Golf Course opened in 1924 as a private 6-hole course adjacent to the Willow Brook Horse Farm and has undergone significant change in the past two years. The course closed in December 2018 after most of its back nine was sold for development. The remainder was converted into a nine-hole course.

Willow Brook reopened April 8 with a new layout, clubhouse and temporary parking lot. Brown said that the same nine-hole routing will be in place in 2020.

Brown Golf operates five other Pennsylvania courses, including Great Bear Golf Club in East Stroudsburg and Lederach Golf Club in Harleysville. Willow Brook is the company’s first nine-hole facility.

“Overall, golf is trending toward the idea that people want an efficient time frame to play,” Brown said. “So I think you’re going to see more nine-hole opportunities in the future, especially when you brand them uniquely and bring in more elements.”

Willow Brook this year opened a new clubhouse and food-and-beverage space, which were housed in a former horse barn. Brown said the pro shop will be relocated and the restaurant will be rebranded and used for events.

Brown added that he has budgeted capital investments to reorganize the parking and cart services, which were placed temporarily on land below the clubhouse. Arriving players parked and obtained carts before heading to the pro shop and first tee.

Brown added that he wants to emphasize Willow Brook’s nearly 100-year history and location.

“The ownership bought into the vision I saw with the property,” Brown said. “I think it’s more about the history of the property. It’s an experience going there, and we want to showcase the entirety of the experience, the uniqueness of playing on land that’s part of a working farm.”

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