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Jefferson City Country Club

SKU: 0030
  • Jefferson City Country Club              Date: 2012

    A History of Jefferson City Country Club

    The original meeting to form the Jefferson City Country Club was held under the chairmanship of Governor Herbert S. Handley on September 7, 1909, at the old Monroe House at High and Monroe Streets.  Those attending represented the civic, business and professional leadership of the community.   As reported I the press the Clubwould bring the community’s business and professional men into closer acquaintance.  To that end, there would be provided a clubhouse for members and their families and a golf course, tennis courts and other recreational facilities.  It was agreed that the Club should have 150 members, of whom 100, should be local and 50 from outside Jefferson City.  The members to be chosen from outside the community would contribute; it was felt, toward the objective of retaining the capitol in Jefferson City.

    The Club’s Board of Directors consisted of Governor Hadley, C. W. Thomas, Sam B. Cook, G. A. Fischer, W. A. Dallmever, Ernest Simonsen, J. L. Thorpe, J.W. Henry, C. G. Hammond, Julius Conrath & Ben G. Veith.  The first president was Governor Hadley. The bylaws specified that the dues of active members should not exceed $24 a year.

    With Thomas Lawson Price, Chairman, and the members of the Grounds and Greens Committee, the Rev. Talbot (three time amateur golf champion of Kansas) helped plan and lay out the golf course.  Originally it was a nine-hole course with sand greens.  Henry Andrae Sr., a charter member of the Club who was Warden of the Penitentiary at the time, arranged a detail of inmates to help clear and construct the golf course.  Use of prison labor was commonplace at that time.

    While golf was a major attraction at the Club form the start, its two clay tennis courts were very popular.  Several couples formed a group of Wednesday tennis with dinner and sometimes bridge. That group became known as the Tennis Club consisted of about fifteen couples.

    The Jefferson City Country Club was opened with a meeting of its members at the Club the afternoon of Monday, May 8, 1911.  The newly constructed clubhouse was located at the site of the present clubhouse.  The original clubhouse bore no resemblance to the current building.  It was more rustic and outdoor oriented with front and back porches running the full length of the building.  The news reported the opening in the Jefferson City Democrat-Tribune, which said, “The Country Club was formally opened to its members Monday afternoon un auspicious circumstances.  “Governor Herbert S. Hadley, an avid golfer was a moving spirit in organizing the Club.”  When the Club opened, Jefferson City had a population of fewer than 12,000. It was an era when stables in the back of homes were being converted into garages, although many still housed horses, buggies and carriages. 

    One summer the Dr. W. A. Clark family lived in a tent pitched on the Country Club grounds where the pro shop now stands.  It was a tent with a raised wooden floor and a curtain that could be drawn to divide it into two rooms.  Howard & Lewis Clark also had a tent at the Club one summer.  The Reverend Talbot and his family had a tent in a grove of persimmon trees on the course.

    On February 5 of that year lightning struck the Capitol, igniting a fire which destroyed the Capitol.

    The Jefferson City News-Tribune later recalled, “The Country Club played a useful role in the campaign to convince leaders of public opinion across the State of the advantages of Jefferson City.”  “It was not an uncommon sight that summer", the newspaper said, “to see crowded excursion trains switched from the Missouri Pacific mainline tracks to the Bagnell Branch and proceed over the uncertain roadbed to the Country Club.”

    On September 30, 1911, President William Howard Taft who was visiting the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia joined Governor Hadley in a golf match at the Country Club.  From the start, Missouri Governors were either active in the affairs of the Club or frequently made use of its facilities.  Governor Fredrick D. Gardner built at his own expense a one-room addition to the Club in 1917 called the Blue Room.

    In the afternoon of February 3, 1920 a fire threatened the clubhouse but Club employees prevented serious damage.  The population of Jefferson City had increased and was approaching 15,000 as the Club entered the Roaring 20’s.  The Club converted the sand putting green to grass.  The Club employed its first golf pro in 1927.  He was Horton Smith, who was to twice win the U. S. Master Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

    In the early 30’s ladies golf began picking up momentum at the Club.  The Club firmly established Thursday, as Men’s Night by the 30’s and “Ladies Day” on Tuesday.  The men’s group assembled in the late afternoon-in summer, after golf-for pitch, bridge, poker or simply conversation around the bar.  These traditions continue today.  The 30’s were marked by the Great Depression, which nearly paralyzed the nation.  In 1937, the Club’s circumstances had improved sufficiently to permit inter redecoration of the clubhouse, which was completed in June of that year.

    On November 18 of 1937, a few months after the redecoration, a tragic fire completely destroyed the clubhouse.  The fire claimed the lives of a black porter and his wife who slept in and upstairs room.  Even though stunned by the disaster, Club officers and members reported that the Club would be rebuilt.  And in April 1939, just under seventeen months after the fire, the formal opening of the new clubhouse was announced.

    Early in 1947 the membership voted to revise the Club’s membership limit form 125 to 150.  A large porch was added and enclosed for year round usage.  The lake was stocked with fish to give pleasure to members and a park-like area near the dam was added with picnic tables and cook out facilities for members.

    On May 31, 1953, the pool was opened and during the next three years, the building housing dressing rooms for swimmers and the golf pro shop was completed.   The 18-hole golf course had been a long-held dream of golfing members and in September 1959 that dream was approved.  In August 1952 Life Magazine published a photojournalism feature on the Jefferson City Country Club.  The article presented text that noted prominent legislators and officials who felt at home at the Club.  It said, “Many believe more legislation is born or dies at the Club than at the state Capitol.”

    In 2011, as when it opened 100 years ago, Jefferson City Country Club continues to be a gracious, peasant place.  It has kept abreast of the times and of the needs and desires of its membership as they have widened and expanded.  Its major programs and services are under the direction of capable professionals.  The Club’s position today and through the years is testimony to the character and capability of the lay leadership that has guided its course.

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