About 7 Springs Golf Course – now Victory Hills Golf Course
Seven Springs Country Club Inc., d.b.a. 7 Springs Golf Course, is located in Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County, 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Edward J. Rack family has owned and operated the course since it’s opening in 1955.
Eddie Rack has been involved with the game of golf for most of his life. In 1918 at the tender young age of 6, he started caddying at the Youghiogheny Country Club, doing his share to help his family in those hard times. It proved to be a very rewarding occupation because he was able to meet the influential men who would help him later in his life. One of those men was Bill Sullivan.
Bill was a member at the Yough and knew Eddie very well as a caddy. He persuaded Ed to go back to school and encouraged him to get on the golf team at McKeesport High School where he was the coach. The golf team’s home course was the Yough, so Ed was able to practice often at the course where he worked. On the golf team with Ed at that time were Crawford Kelly, Peden Gamble, the future Dr. Ritchie and Dr. Caughey and Aldo Zecchini.
Ed considered dropping out of school to caddy full time but was persuaded by Mr. Mansfield, who owned the Daily News, to stay and get his diploma and when he graduated he was promised a job at the Daily News. This was very good news for Ed because he was engaged to be married to the beautiful Genevieve Davis whom he met through his sister, Anne. A full time job meant they could now afford to get married.
While Ed worked at the Daily News he joined the Typographical Union and played as an amateur in many of their tournaments all over the country. He also became a member at Youghiogheny Country Club and was golf champ there for years. He played the country club circuit, taking the championship at Indiana Country Club and won the Greater Johnstown Amateur Championship. He even got to the finals of the West Penn Amateurs. Ed played with Arnold Palmer at a Yough Exhibition for the McKeesport Rotary Club. Ed shot a 69 and Arnold had a 71! He has many trophies to show how good he was at the game of golf.
Bill Sullivan, who had become a township real estate developer, had bought some ground that he thought could be developed as a golf course. He called Ed and asked if he would look at the property and give his input to the project. They laid out the 18 holes together. It officially opened on May 13th, 1955. Bill asked Ed if he could run the course as he was too busy with his other interests to do it himself. Ed talked to his wife Gen and asked his children, Eddie, Janice & Norman, who was only 10 years old, if they would be willing to help. Everyone agreed to give it a try. Once Ed opened a golf shop he could no longer play as an amateur, so he joined the Tri-State PGA and served as Tournament Director twice, Secretary/Treasurer and President between 1965 and 1975.
Bill Sullivan called Ed in 1955 asking if he would want to purchase 7 Springs as he was going to get married and live in Florida. Ed, with the support of his wife, Gen, and his children, decided to take the enormous undertaking and buy the golf course from Mr. Sullivan. From that moment on the whole family participated in the task of running a public golf course. There were many challenges in those first years but a close and loving family was able to meet those challenges and make the course better through all their efforts.
When Janice & Norman married and had their families, their children took up the mantle of continuing the improvements to the course. Janice’s three children, Dale, Mark & Lynne and Norman’s two children, Craig & Tracy are all actively involved in the operation. Norman took a few years after he graduated from high school to pursue a career on the PGA Tour but after a few years traveling the country with his young family, decided he could be more productive back home running the family business.
Ed and Gen had very close ties to Florida with Ed’s brother Victor and his wife Elsie living there, plus aunts and cousins on their mother’s side who lived in the Daytona area. With his children assuming more of the responsibility of running 7 Springs, it left more time for Ed & Gen to visit Florida and enjoy the warm weather and play golf. Ed joined Colony West Country Club in Tamarac, Florida during one visit with his brother Vic. This proved to be a fateful decision for the Rack Family.
The members of Colony West decided to build a $1,000,000 clubhouse to make their club more attractive to perspective members. Unfortunately their idea didn’t work and the entire club was heading for bankruptcy. They knew Ed successfully ran a golf course in Pennsylvania so some of the members approached him and asked if he would want to buy Colony West. The Rack family had a new challenge.
Ed and Gen knew that Janice and Norman could make a living at 7 Springs Golf Course but what about their grandchildren? Janice’s son, Dale Kuehner, was very interested in agronomy and was going to Penn State to learn more about growing turf and was planning to move into the role as superintendent at 7 Springs. Dale’s brother Mark joined the Navy right out of high school and thought he might make it a career but discovered that he missed working on the course. His decision to leave the Navy coincided with the new opportunity that came up in Florida. Ed and Gen knew that 7 Springs would have to be used as collateral if they wanted to buy Colony West, but that would mean all of their grandchildren could make a living in the expanded family business. So they called a family meeting and laid out the options. Happily all the family agreed to take the chance of buying a prestigious course like Colony West using 7 Springs as collateral, including youngest members of the family, Janice’s daughter Lynne and Norm’s daughter, Tracy. Norm’s son, Craig had just graduated from high school and agreed to move to Florida with his father and Dale now started to think about taking care of southern turf. This left Janice to manage 7 Springs with her son Mark taking on the daunting role of superintendent, and her daughter Lynne and Norm’s daughter Tracy picking up the slack in the clubhouse.
In January 1986 the family became proud owners of Colony West, rated by Golf Digest as one of the top 50 public golf courses in the country. Norm manages Colony West with the help of Craig and Dale. Dale maintains the 36 hole facility and became the youngest certified superintendent in Florida. The 18 hole championship course measures over 7300 yards from the back tees and across the street there is an 18 hole executive golf course.
These days you will find Janice Sherman along with her husband Bob, her son, Mark Kuehner, her daughter, Lynne Kuehner and niece Tracy Mocello still actively involved at 7 Springs. Mark is doing an outstanding job of improving the playability of the course and making those greens smoother and faster every year. Lynne & Tracy collect greens fees and help with the office work while Janice oversees it all, keeping the traditions started by her father and mother so many years ago. Treat your customer like family and give them a break whenever possible.
Ed and Gen are proud, not only of their business success, but most important, of a wonderful family relationship that has grown closer over the years. Ed will be 94 years old in June 2007 and Gen is not too far behind. They also celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in November 2005. It’s been a wonderful life!!
Ed celebrated his 100th birthday on June 12, 2013. We sadly lost him on April 5, 2014.
In 2015 we renamed the golf course Victory Hills to lessen confusion with our proximity to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion, PA.