Golf arrived in St. Louis a little late. The east coast was alive with courses, but the movement west was much slower. Whether Foxboro GC or the Dorset Club or St. Andrews (NY) or Oakhurst Links were the first clubs that are still in existence, all having begun between 1884-88, is not the issue here. Golf was being played in Chicago in 1892 and in the early 1890s in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, California, Georgia, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Quincy (IL) had a club in 1898, and there were courses in Kansas City, St. Joseph and Omaha prior to 1895, though many of these would later be abandoned for various reasons. One of the earliest courses was established in Fairfield, Iowa – the Fairfield Golf & Country Club – which documents the founding of its course in 1892! Other courses were established in Gearhart, Oregon (Gearhart Links) and Riverside CC (Riverside, CA) with each of these also showing 1892 as their origin. Each of these courses west of the Mississippi, only had 9-holes, while some even had fewer when they were formed. In addition, a few clubs were founded in one year but took several more before a course was actually constructed.
Courses were built in Peoria and Springfield (IL) in this period that still exist. When the Chicago GC moved to Wheaton from Belmont in 1894 (the original 9-hole course in Downers Grove today) they established their 18-hole layout, the first 18-hole course in America, it marked the beginning of the growth of golf in America. However, golf would not be played in the Bi-state area with any regularity until 1896; but once it came, courses sprang up for the next decade.
A “Golf Guide” published in 1899 listed every known course in America. This Guide lists a total of 10 courses in Missouri; two in Kansas City and eight in the St. Louis Area. They were the St. Louis Field Club, St. Louis CC, St. Louis Jockey Club, St. Louis Athletic Club, Kinloch Club, Normandy Heights GC, Carondelet Park Links, and Jefferson Barracks Links. As noted by the Guide “...the above six clubs maintain golf links of one kind or another, in addition to the better known courses of the St. Louis Field Club and the Country Club.” By 1900, the Country Club and the Field Club had also joined the United States Golf Association (USGA).
Another source comes from “The Golfers Green Book” published in 1906 by Joseph E. G. Ryan for the Western Golf Association. This publication states there were four courses in St. Louis that belonged to the Association; St. Louis Country Club, Glen Echo, Normandie and St. Louis Field Club.
One distinction that must be made is that of a club versus a course. Courses did spring up at various times, but those associated with “clubs” received the recognition. So while a links may have been built in a park, unless it was part of a “club” it was not deemed worthy of recognition.
St. Louis CC
St. Louis Country Club was originally located in Bridgeton in 1892, where enough room existed for the construction of a Polo Field, which was the primary interest at the time. Early club founders John Shepley, Marshal Hodgman, Irwin Smith, and James Scudder owned a farm in Bridgeton and offered to lease it for a polo club. Many sons of prominent St. Louisans, in particular, Clay Pierce, Walter McKittrick, and Ted Steedmann had learned of polo while attending eastern colleges and they were anxious to create a similar environment here. With initially only 15 members there was some interest in the new game of golf, but here polo was king. In fact, the logo for St. Louis CC has two horseshoes intertwined in the design. The site chosen was known as the Collier Farm, as it was the family name of one of the owner’s wives. It had a two-story building that could serve as a clubhouse in addition to stables and a barn, all located on 253 acres. It had another important ingredient to serve as a Country Club; a narrow-gauge rail line connected the Bridgeton site with Florissant and with Ferguson. It then connected with the Olive Street horsecar line just west of Grand and on to downtown. The ride out from the city would take about an hour. The land was bounded by Fee Fee Church Road, just south of Utz Lane, and would be near Dunn Road. This site today is part of the present Brown Campus area.
In early 1894, the Club began to consider relocating to a site closer to the city. While the farm was ideal for polo, it was a long journey from member’s homes as a number began building homes along fashionable Lindell Boulevard, adjacent to Forest Park. To make it easier for families to enjoy the Club, a site closer to the western boundary of the city seemed logical. In November 1894, the club purchased an option on the McCausland homestead at Clayton and Hanley Road, plus a lease on an additional 200 acres from the Davis brothers, Sam, Dwight, and John, which was adjacent to the McCausland property. At $1,000 per acre, the deal was concluded early in 1895 with a new clubhouse completed in 1896. At that time, Clayton was still rather rural, and it would not become a city until 1913, so the club felt that they had the room they would need.
With the new location and plans for golf included, membership quickly grew to 250.
The Club site was on a high piece of ground along Hanley Road and was bounded by Clayton Road on the south, North and South Road on the west and the Chicago-Rock Island and Pacific Railroad tracks on the north. Today the area is Davis Place and Polo Drive. The clubhouse, an ornate, three-story colonial frame building, was 144-feet long as it stood facing Clayton Road to the south.
A covered 15-foot wide veranda extended around two sides of the building, commanding a view of the tennis, golf and polo grounds and track. Transportation to the club remained a concern, and there was an on-going dispute regarding the use of the Forsyth property due to a right-of-way issue. To solve this, and to assist the members in getting access to the club from the city, the members privately funded Wydown Boulevard adjacent to an existing trolly car line, running from Hanley to Forest Park.
The original 9-holes were laid out in 1896 as the now 300-member Country Club contracted with James Foulis, the head professional at Chicago Golf Club and winner of the 1896 US Open. In keeping with tradition from Scotland, each of the holes was named and in most cases reflecting the shape or character of each. This was the first course constructed in the area.
According to an article in the St. Louis Republic, golf officially began on October 8, 1896: “...the good old Scots-English game of golf received its formal christening in St. Louis yesterday afternoon when the first Golf Tournament given by the St. Louis Country Club was played under the most favorable conditions.”
In 1897, a fire consumed the handsome St. Louis clubhouse, and all that remained in the smoking ruins was the chimney. “Burned like a straw stack” was the headline in the Republic the next morning. Undaunted, members went back to the architect of the original building, J.L. Mauran, and had him draw plans for a new clubhouse.
They created a clubhouse identical to the one that had burned, with the new structure opening in 1898. An additional $80,000 was spent to completely refurbish the facility and grounds.
As Clayton grew, the rural environs began to disappear. Streetcar tracks now ran through the property, forcing golfers to avoid the overhead electric wires on their tee shots, or re-tee their ball. The quiet, serene location was becoming surrounded by new businesses and homesites. By 1905, the club had constructed a second 9 holes, and by 1908, they also built a “women’s course” for the ladies and children.
Despite these changes, by 1910 the Club began considering a move to another site with more room, further west. In 1911, the board negotiated to purchase land owned by the Archbishop of St. Louis [referred to in documents simply as “the Archbishops land”] at Ladue and Price Roads. The purchase price was to be $227,000 or $1,000 per acre. To help negotiate the deal they hired a prominent church member to be the intermediary with Lindell. The Archbishop agreed to the sale and then used the proceeds to buy a tract of land on Laclede Station Road where Kenrick Seminary would later be built.
The Country Club president was Judge William F. Boyle. Other officers and directors were B.B. Graham, D.S.H. Smith, Daniel Taylor, A.L. Shapleigh, J.F. Shepley, F.W. Oliver, and Walter McKittrick. The greenkeeper-pro was Ed McNamara, who served for a few seasons. Judge Boyle would serve as president of the club for 15 years.
In 1914, they completed construction of their new course, designed by Charles Blair Macdonald. Considered the “Father of American Golf” Macdonald’s designs remain classic and timeless. The present course at St. Louis remains much the same as it was when it opened that year.
The Field Club
The St. Louis Field Club was located in “Bissell, MO” and “..on the Burlington Railroad, near St. Louis; a Field Club station is on the links.” The site was thirteen miles north of the city and was “..accessible by railroad, or a carriage road, and is about an hour’s ride from the downtown district by bicycle.” The land is described as “...a pretty piece of high ground, consisting of forty-five acres.” There are records that point to the St. Louis Field Club being loosely organized around 1892 with a membership of 127, constructing a course in late 1897. The Club was officially organized on October 8, 1897, with 102 members, with the first golf medal awarded to Rayburn Bissell for his victory in the club’s match-play championship that year. Records indicate that its members competed in the Western Golf Association Amateur in 1902, along with members from St. Louis CC, but no other area members are mentioned.
Located in what is today part of Riverview Gardens on Bellefontaine Road near the historic General Daniel Bissell House, Club President D.O. Ives along with A.L. Kenneth are given credit for the course design, though John McGee will be given credit in a later article, as the architect of the course. There is no mention of collaboration between the two groups, so perhaps McGee did the routing while Ives and Kenneth did the on-site construction.
In the first formal recorded matches on May 6, 1898, a foursome went out on the links which were barely two months old and quite wet, displaying the beauty that was expected. McGee, playing left-handed, had been playing golf for almost ten years, and he recorded a 79 over the 9-holes. Other scores ranged into the 100s. Records referred to Harry S. Cullin as vice-president, F. Rayburn Bissell as club secretary and Ed McNamara as greenkeeper. As noted earlier, McNamara also served as greenkeeper for St. Louis CC. McNamara was a rather colorful player and greenkeeper, and at the Field Club, he also served as their first golf professional. He later left the golf business and became a St. Louis policeman. Early photos of him show him swinging a golf club while another has him in his police uniform.
The site was most likely chosen for several reasons: first, there was the general belief that the city would expand northward, along the river. Secondly, the Burlington railroad had a train that ran from downtown to within 200 yards of the Bissell home. Finally, the Bissell family had approximately 1,200 acres in the area [down from the 2,500 they had before 1844], and the land appeared well-suited for a course. With Bissell as an early member, he was only too willing to offer the Club a parcel on his property.
The Bissell house was built in 1818, and it is the original home that stands on the site today. The Bissell’s trace their roots back to the mid-1600s when they first crossed from England to the new country. Legend has it that when Paul Revere made his historic ride to Concord and Lexington, it was a Bissell ancestor who took the news south from Boston, and with less historical significance since he did not run into any redcoats. General Daniel Bissell was awarded his General stars by none other than General George Washington. A signed declaration of this fact adorns the walls of the home.
James R. Bissell noted the location of the house and golf course as he recalled them in 1915, and placed them in a 1983 drawing. The course was located across the Bellefontaine Road from the railroad tracks, north of the home. A frame structure was constructed to serve as the clubhouse, but like so many of the day, it caught fire and burned to the ground. Rayburn Bissell then built a new home to be used as a clubhouse, this one made of brick, on the east side of Bellefontaine just north of the Bissell Home. It would serve until the club moved in 1910.
Plans for a new, larger clubhouse in 1898 never materialized as the club continued to operate from the site for a few more years. Finally, on July 6, 1900, a new clubhouse opened for the members.
The Club was also plagued with transportation problems as the rail line to their site was in jeopardy. Like the Country Club, the Field Club eventually realized that the migration in St. Louis was moving west, not northwest and the club voted for a move southward.
When the Club moved to the Normandy area in 1910, on a parcel of land owned by the Lucas Family, the club changed its name to Bellerive and constructed 18-holes on what is now the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. To construct their course, they turned to the best greenkeeper in the area, Robert Foulis. Having built the courses at Glen Echo (1901) and Normandie (1901), Bellerive hired him away in 1907 from Glen Echo. He remained greenkeeper at Normandie while he spent the next three years designing and building the new Bellerive course.
The Bellerive name was in recognition of the French history in the area as Captain Louis Ange de Bellerive was the last French commander in North America and the first governor of St. Louis. The club stayed at the site for 50 years before relocating once again, this time on Ladue Road at Mason; its present site.
It was not uncommon for many of the early clubs to move to more favorable locations, while others found that their location or membership was not suitable to sustain a club. In some cases, fire destroyed the club along with club records, and the membership did not rebuild but instead moved to other clubs. As noted earlier, six clubs began with good intentions before 1900, but circumstances brought many to their eventual demise.
The Jockey Club
The St. Louis Jockey Club, the Delmar Jockey Club, and the Kinloch Jockey Club were early race tracks located across the area, as racing occupied significant parts of the sports pages. But the St. Louis Jockey Club is the only one that laid out a golf course within the infield of their 60-acre race track. Technically named The St. Louis Golf Club, [also referred to as the Fair Grounds Links, as well as just The Jockey Club] the course had several advantages. Located in Fairgrounds Park - on Natural Bridge near Grand - it was the closest club to the downtown area, making it perfect for early morning or late afternoon play. It was also fairly short, so a round could be played in well under two hours. It was also very flat, making it very easy for all to play, especially the ladies in their long dresses. In fact, as the club grew in popularity, the ladies began to outnumber the men on the links. Finally, they had an outstanding pro/greenkeeper in Occley Johnson, formerly of the Chicago Golf Club, with members very protective of the grounds. While the club was a second or third club for many most believed it was the best conditioned in the area. On one occasion, a rodeo was contemplated for the infield. The thought of hooves and roundups taking place was too much for members to bear. Johnson considered fencing off the greens to protect them; such was the care that the links received.
The Jockey Club itself was an old St. Louis institution, dating back to the Civil War. For years it managed the annual Harvest Fair that included the Veiled Prophet Parade, the major social event for the city, which lasted for a month at a time. We know that they also held a 13-day race schedule during the Fair at Fairgrounds Park. The Harvest Fair was not a small event limited to just local activities, as such dignitaries as Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Horace Greeley attended on various occasions.
The clubhouse was a large three-story mansion that was on North Grand next to the track. In the early 1900s horse racing was one of the primary forms of entertainment and local papers carried results from all over the country, with news on jockeys, horses, trainers and turf conditions dominating the sports columns.
When the golf club at the Jockey Club was organized in 1898, its members were allocated to a room on the third floor of the clubhouse. The prominent members of the Jockey Club were also members of the Field Club, the Kinloch Club, Florissant Valley Club, and the Country Club.
C. Norman Jones, with the St. Louis Brewing Association, had introduced golf to the members there, but he was best remembered not for his play, but for the stylish clothes he wore on the course, reminiscent of the Englishmen and Scots who came to America to seek their fortune.
The course officially opened on April 22, 1898, with an exhibition between two Foulis brothers, David and Jim, both Chicago area professionals, who would later play important roles in the design of several area courses. Jim Foulis was recognized as “the greatest driver [of golf] in America. He holds the record for the long-distance drive, having sent the ball on one occasion the enormous distance of 308 yards.” Though the grounds were wet, the newspaper article noted that Foulis frequently drove within 50 yards of a 315-yard hole. Oddly, Foulis used only three clubs for the entire match; the driver, mashie and putter. However, the putting surface was in such poor shape – the course was barely two months old and very wet on that day – that it often took them three to four strokes to hole out after getting to the green. For the 27 holes they played, Jim had a 123 and Dave a 125, with scores of 41-43-39 and 44-38-43 respectively. Par for the course was listed at 39. Having designed the course, Jim Foulis remarked how the greenkeeper, [Occley Johnson] had done a fine job keeping it in shape. Some golfers had been playing earlier in the month, but the April 1898 opening marked the Jockey Club as the second links officially opened in the area. Like the Country Club, it would be a private club, but it was open year-round and thus received much more play.
The members received quite a bit of attention as they played golf the morning before big races, or prior to attending baseball at the nearby Robinson Field (later Sportsman’s Park) home of the St. Louis Browns.
The course continued to host Ladies tournaments, but as time went by, the layout within the track was not conducive to good course conditioning as the fairways became hard as asphalt. Following the World’s Fair in 1904, horse-racing fell out of grace with the powers-that-be in Jefferson City, particularly due to the money being wagered. So, when para-mutual betting was abolished in 1905, the club’s days were numbered.
The racetrack was dismantled shortly thereafter, and the clubhouse razed as the land was sold to the city for Fairgrounds Park.
Florissant Valley CC
The exclusive Florissant Valley CC was formed in 1899 by members of St. Louis CC following the fire that destroyed their clubhouse in September 1897. The area they selected for their club was frequently referred to as Normandy Heights [thus the golf course was often mistakenly referred to as the Normandy Heights Club]. Like several others in the area, the club leased property from the land-wealthy Lucas family, using the Lucas homestead as their clubhouse.
The Lucas family traced its roots back to France where, in 1784, the patriarch of the US clan, Jean Baptiste Charles Lucas, took an interest in the revolution taking place in America. Siding with the Patriots, he received a letter of introduction from the US Ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin, recommending his services to Thomas Jefferson. He had also met John Adams on his travels to Europe, so Lucas was well known in American circles. Years later, when Jefferson became president, he appointed Lucas, who by then was an attorney, as the commissioner of Land Claims and Judge of the Territorial Court in the newly created Louisiana Purchase area. As so many early settlers of the area were French, it became natural for Lucas to settle here and become an aristocrat-of-sorts among his former countrymen. He purchased a considerable amount of land, especially after the New Madrid earthquake of 1812, and by the late 1800s owned some 1,500 acres on their farm in the Normandy, Berkeley, Kinloch, Pasadena Hills, Bel-Nor area. When Wilson P. Hunt, son of Ann Lucas and Theodore Hunt, gained control of the property through his mother-in-law, Anne B. Lucas, he built his mansion on the land and planted hundreds of trees, many imported from France. Lucas & Hunt Road in north county reflects their significance in the area. However, by 1927, the significant portion was sold to a group of investors, and 10 years later another piece was sold at auction on the courthouse steps in Clayton to Rice Emerson, whose family owned the property through 2014. This latter property was the land upon which Normandie GC is located.
In the spring of 1899, the 40-member Florissant Valley Club laid out nine holes in what is today Bel-Nor, just north of present Normandie GC and south of Natural Bridge Road. Like the Country Club, they also had polo ponies and a large barn. But with only 40 members, they could not maintain all the facilities, so the golf course was turned back into pasture by 1905. When the old Lucas mansion, which was being used as the clubhouse, burned in 1912, the members never rebuilt, though the Florissant Valley Club remained a dining club till 1946, initially using the clubhouse of the then-defunct Kinloch Club.
The Kinloch Club was also located on a portion of the Lucas property, at Lucas-Turner Place. Its grounds were part of the Harry Smith Turner property, another member of the Lucas family, who had established his home in the area before to the Civil War. The Kinloch Club was regarded as the most exclusive among the early clubs. Its members were among the most wealthy and influential St. Louisans, paying a $1,700 entry fee to join. Several of them formed one of the earliest phone companies, the Kinloch Telephone Company, whose Chairman was Eberhard Anheuser. Golf was played here, according to a Globe-Democrat article, during 1898. The exact reason for its demise is based in part on a feud between a member and a prospective member. One story also noted increased assessments as a possible reason. However, a dispute erupted when a young, wealthy St. Louisan attempted to join and a member with whom he had a serious disagreement, openly voiced his opposition to other members. The applicant withdrew his name, rather than face a blackball.
At the next meeting, a very heated discussion ensued. Shortly after this incident, several members met at the St. Louis Club, and on August 10, 1899, they formed the Log Cabin Club. This departure all but marked the end of the Kinloch Club, and though it would continue for a few more years, it would never again have the same significance.
Triple A Club
The Triple A Club, or St. Louis Amateur Athletic Association, [the two names are used interchangeably] came into being on August 11, 1897, as the club leased land in the northwestern section of Forest Park [near the site of the present 18-hole golf course].
The original plan called for about 2,000 invitations to be sent to interested participants, and the club organizers planned to purchase the clubhouse of the Pastime Athletic Club for their clubhouse, though this never materialized, as a new building was constructed, which opened on June 5, 1898. The group was to be the St. Louis member of the Amateur Athletic Union [AAU].
Early on, its members were mainly interested in baseball and track, with the first golf matches held in October 1898. Initially, the club opened with only 6 holes. Aware that golf was an 18-hole event, six holes meant you would go around it three times and still have a match. But as more golfers joined, and the course became more crowded, money was freed up, and an additional 3 holes were completed in December 1898.
At this time, no area club had an “official” 18-hole layout, and the local newspapers began to decry this as a blemish on the area as major national events overlooked St. Louis as a result.
By the summer of 1900, four clubs openly spoke about lengthening their links to 18-holes; Triple A, the Country Club, the Field Club and the new, much-publicized Mound City Golf Club [soon renamed Glen Echo]. But it was at Triple A where the initial 18 flags were in holes, not at Normandie or Glen Echo, St. Louis or the Field Club.
In April 1901, as the courses were beginning to open for the season, the following article appeared in the Post-Dispatch; “Walter L. Gilliam, chairman of the golf committee of the St. L. A.A.A., stated that the Forest Park links will be in very fair condition after a few weeks’ sunshine and spring showers. He says the entire 18-holes have been sodded and need only a little cutting and trimming. The fair greens are now being rolled and mowed. There is a large and growing contingent of golfers in this club.” And in June 1901, the Globe-Democrat had an article that stated: “...the eighteen holes at the Forest Park Athletic Association is said to be among the finest in this part of the country.”
But the joy of their new-found links would be short-lived. Unfortunately for the club, in a July 30, 1901 Globe-Democrat article is was noted that with the World’s Fair approaching (originally scheduled for 1903), the clubhouse needed to be torn down and the club moved to a new location in the Park.
The site chosen is the present site of The Highlands in the southeast corner of the Park. Money given to the club by the city to pay for their move and the new building did not go far enough, so it was decided to build only 9-holes.
On April 2, 1902, the Triple A players were competing against the Country Club, Field Club, Glen Echo, and Normandie in a series of matches to be held during the spring, with the championship held at the Field Club on June 21, 1902.
A women’s championship was held in conjunction with the men’s at the Fair Grounds [Jockey Club] on October 4, 1902.
The Triple A club operated as a private club until 1981, when it went public, though memberships were available through 2004. Today, as The Highlands at Forest Park, it is one of the few courses that take no reservations and walk-ons are always welcome.
Tower Grove Park Links
All of the previously mentioned clubs were essentially private, or at least memberships were required. As interest grew, politicians began to call for public venues. A proposal was made to establish free-links at Forest Park, Carondelet Park, and Tower Grove Park. Mayor Ziggenheim barely knew what golf was, but like any good politician, he was quoted as saying “...golf, oh yes, isn’t that the game for skinnies? Well, if that’s what the people want, then we’ll give it to them.” As best as can be determined, the only links built during this period were at Tower Grove Park, but these were not done with public money. Newspapers indicate that links were scheduled to be laid out at Carondelet and Forest Park, but no record exists to verify this. It would appear that the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898 caused these plans to cease as the country focused on the war effort.
The Carondelet Park Links referred to in the 1898 Golf Guide most likely referred to the six-hole course in Tower Grove Park, which was expanded to nine holes in 1901. What makes this club unique is that it was formed by early St. Louis CC women golfers, disenchanted with the rules applying to playing opportunities at the Country Club. From the May 19, 1901 Globe-Democrat article; “Out at the Tower Grove Park, the ladies will play golf and no lone man may enter into the sacred precincts of the grove unless some woman waits for him. He may play with his wife, or if unmarried, and with a sweetheart among the players, he may also play golf. So if any unattached man is seen wandering within the limits of the links you will know that his possibilities are about to become probabilities.”
They formed their club in 1898 at the Wednesday Club Women’s meeting, as a place they could take their children to learn the game. The club also had a professional instructor, Mr. George Norman, a pro from St. Louis CC, whose task it was to teach the ladies and children the game. However, when the ladies selected someone to lay-out their course, they selected a Mr. John McGee from the Field Club! The spot they chose for the course was located in the northwest corner of the park where the ladies constructed “a small, but elegant clubhouse” where they gathered, usually each Thursday, to play.
An article in the Globe-Democrat on April 13, 1902, announced the annual meeting of the Tower Grove Park Golf Club, where new officers were elected for the coming year. Mrs. Charles W. Scudder was re-elected as president and Mrs. Thomas Niedringhaus as vice president. The membership fee was reduced from $15 to $10 because of the club’s good financial condition. A junior tournament was planned for June 1, with play for regular members to begin on June 4. With most of the families maintaining memberships at other private clubs during this time, as those clubs added additional holes to their courses, thus enabling ladies to have easier access to the course, the need for this “extra” course was lessened. By 1903, the Tower Grove Club ceased operations.
Jefferson Barracks Links
The Jefferson Barracks course was most likely the first of at least two that were constructed at the military site; each probably abandoned as space was needed for troops during war periods. We must remember, laying-out a course often consisted of only a large field with some type of marker to note the hole locations. It did not mean a closely-mowed surface or even a defined fairway, at least not until years later. They literally were, at times, pastures or fields that were for the time serving no other use.
The Algonquin Club was organized in 1899 as its members were playing golf over a 9-hole course in Webster Park. Originally located near the present site of Gore Ave. and the railroad tracks in Webster Groves, the Algonquin’s were a bold group, challenging all comers, and for a few matches in 1900, going undefeated. The land in Webster Park was sprinkled with homes, one of which was the McKinnie homestead, which sat in the middle of the course. As 1901 turned, more homes were built on the land, and the space for golf was growing smaller. As one home was built, you could no longer see from the 8th tee to hit toward the green, so the course had to be re-routed around the lot. Other land was considered, and they even considered merging with the Triple A club, which was also undergoing a space problem, though Triple A’s was due to the coming 1904 World’s Fair. Finally, on June 25, 1903, Arthur Deacon, Bart Adams, Allen McKinnie, W.S. Avis, and Kent Jarvis met to form a new club. A name not mentioned was Mrs. Kent Jarvis. She was a very active golfer and perhaps the driving forces behind the new Club. Later that year they purchased the 54-acre Jackson Farm [at Jackson and Berry Roads] and created a new nine-hole course. The construction of their clubhouse was completed in 1904. Nine years later, in 1913, they added more land, enlarged the clubhouse and completed nine new holes.
Financing the improvements at Algonquin was accomplished by rather novel means. Instead of the traditional assessments or increase in the dues, the members issued bonds subscribed by the members to cover the costs.
Conditions in 1904 at the club were sparse; no phones, no caddies, no golf professional and no automobiles. The club did arrange with the Missouri Pacific railroad for a stop near the present site of the 4th green, and the Lockwood Avenue streetcar also provided another means of getting to the club.
Creating a club in the southwest section of the city appeared somewhat risky. All the other clubs, with the exception of the Tower Grove Club and Jefferson Barracks, had been organized in the northwest or west sections of the area. [The Tower Grove and Jefferson Barracks clubs were unique in their membership makeup and perhaps as a result, no mention is made of these two clubs being included in the early inter-club matches in which the other clubs participated.]
Another factor facing each club was keeping them in good condition. Maintenance at clubs was difficult at best, as mowing was accomplished with horse-drawn mowers. It was a continual task as you would finish the nine holes and it would be time to begin again.
The location of each club had one outstanding feature in common; each was built on or near a Railroad line! In the late 1890s, carriages remained a normal mode of transport and public transportation was generally trolley/streetcars; so, to venture “6-8 miles to the club” was not made without some thought and a degree of adventure. So, in many ways, the site of the early clubs was dictated by the location of the Rail lines. As noted earlier, the possible closing of the passenger rail line seriously threatened the future of the Field Club since members could not make the trip to the club easily, a situation which the club said they were working to rectify by providing alternate means of transportation. This may point us in the direction as to why they abandoned the Bellefontaine area for a more attractive site in the Normandy area in 1910, as there were already other clubs nearby and transportation was much easier.
Of the courses created prior to 1900, none remain today. Of the clubs, with the closing of Triple A in 2008, only three remain; St. Louis, Bellerive (The Field Club), and Log Cabin. But at the turn of the century, two organizations would be founded that would, to this day, do battle over their history.
Log Cabin Club
As noted earlier, the Log Cabin Club was not born from a need for another club, as much as dissatisfaction with the Kinloch Club. Following the incident mentioned previously, a group of members prepared to depart the Kinloch Club. They had scouted sites all summer and found one just west of the Country Club on the Clymer farm. A lease on the land was secured by Thomas Niedringhaus, Charles Hodgman, Alexander Euston, Richard Everett, David Evans, Emile Glogau, Henry Lewis and C. Norman Jones. They hired professional James Mackrell of the Country Club to lay-out their new course. [Robert Foulis would also be given credit for a redesign in 1909]. An old log cabin nearby served as the inspiration for the club’s name, though the actual clubhouse was more stately, being the country home of Mrs. Hiester Von Schrader Clymer. Mrs. Clymer’s family - the Von Schrader’s - owned most of the land south of the Club down to Litzinger and from McKnight to Lindbergh. The site of the original clubhouse is today located behind the Ladue Chapel. Getting to the site required traveling a streetcar line and then a carriage ride to the club. The clubs original nine holes would “merge” with the neighboring Bogey Club in 1911 to allow members access to a full eighteen holes.
The Log Cabin Club also has the distinction of being the oldest club in St. Louis to remain at one location through the years, having begun in 1899 at the same site. A very select membership of usually no more than 75 members – at one time the maximum limit was only 25 members – the club has hosted some of the countries most distinguished leaders, including Dwight Eisenhower in 1947, President Teddy Roosevelt and former President Grover Cleveland during the 1904 World’s Fair.
The original Clymer house served the club until 1981 when the club built a new facility almost directly across the road. Today the new clubhouse sits on Log Cabin Lane just west of the Bogey Club.
From 2007 to 2014, the Log Cabin and Bogey courses underwent a very successful renovation by architect Roger Null. The 2015 season was most entertaining to those fortunate enough to play the new design as the renovation took a turn-of-the-century course, with small, back-to-front sloped greens, and created more modern green complexes along with new zoysia fairways and updated bunkering.
The Bogey Club was formed by gentlemen who sought to establish a club similar to the Log Cabin Club and looked to acquire land adjacent to Log Cabin. A key member of the organizers was David Calhoun, who had built his family home on land in 1904 that is today the site of the current clubhouse. Another parcel of land they sought to purchase was known as Mount Farm, the family home of Mr. William C. Taylor. Upon completion of the purchase options, they hired Robert Foulis in 1910 to construct a 9-hole course. While the official founding of The Bogey Club in 1911, the course construction had been underway for nearly a year. Following its completion, an agreement was struck the Log Cabin Club to share the two courses, making a full 18-holes. If you examine the scorecard for each club, you will find that they are different. Depending on where you begin, you take a different route, and the numbering of the holes are different for each club! The membership at the Bogey Club, in the past, was generally limited to CEO’s of the major St. Louis companies. As the city became less of a major headquarters site, this policy changed, with the club more of a family club, as it was when originally founded.
Today, the club has members from across the area, while continuing to retain a level of exclusivity. The original stately clubhouse was destroyed by a fire in December 1971 and a new facility, just as grand, was built on the site of the burnt ruins, opening in 1972. Like its predecessor, the new clubhouse reflected the personality of the current membership.
While many members are avid golfers, the club has generally not been available for non-member play. With no professional or golf shop, members just sign-in and play.
As noted within the section for the Log Cabin Club, the Bogey course underwent extensive renovation in 2013-14 by architect Roger Null. He took the original, rather plain design and renovated both courses, created an 18-hole course that is not only enjoyable but has some very scenic views across the grounds.
Glen Echo & Normandie
The Glen Echo Club was organized in 1900 by some very prominent St. Louisans including Murray Carleton, Herman Luyties, Festus Wade, Julius Koehler, Selwyn Edgar, and George A. Meyer. They negotiated a lease with Mr. William Hunt for 167 acres on the Lucas property. But the driving force behind Glen Echo was Colonel George S. McGrew. McGrew helped foster enthusiasm for the new club as he gave speeches and presentations to area golfers. One presentation was about his recent trip to England and Scotland, where he played a match with Young Tom Morris at St. Andrews. He thrilled the crowd with his descriptions of the clubhouse, the holes, and the sites. He was a dynamic and charismatic man who charmed those around him.
He even convinced the upcoming Olympic games to award Glen Echo the golf matches even before the site was completed! Sounds similar to an event almost ninety years later when the Ryder Cup would award Kiawah the 1991 matches before the Ocean Course was completed by Pete Dye!
The course opened 9-holes to the members on May 25, 1901, to much fanfare. By June, the remaining holes were open.
In September 1901, another group, headed by John Lowry, William Plant, Walter Gilliam, and Dr. William Hall were planning the Normandie course, also on the Lucas farm. As the crow flies, these clubs today are only about two par-5s apart. In fact, the original design had parts of both courses touching each other on land that is today occupied by Incarnate Word Academy.
Both clubs planned eighteen holes, something that was uncommon in the area at the time, as all previous clubs, except for Triple A, were nine holes. If newspaper accounts are any indication, Glen Echo also had the better press agent! The planned opening of the course was in the paper for months before the opening day event in May, and when they opened their second season in 1902, you would have sworn the club was brand new!
Normandie, on the other hand, got fewer columns in the local papers. The opening of their first nine holes on October 6, 1901, received some notice, but hardly that which was given to Glen Echo.
Tradition has stated for years that Normandie CC is “the oldest golf club at its present site west of the Mississippi” and this legacy has sustained itself through the years. The Del Monte course in California (at Pebble Beach) has also laid claim that it is the oldest course west of the Mississippi, though it is known that the club moved at one point. We also know that Glen Echo has been at its present site since its opening.
What does all this mean? Does the establishment of the “club” mark the date? Or is it when the course construction begins, or when it’s completed? Or is it when it is opened for play? Whichever standard you care to use, I hope to clarify the situation with the following information.
Based on articles from the Globe-Democrat and the Post-Dispatch, the Glen Echo course opened first, on May 25, 1901, and was in play during that summer, first with nine holes and by mid-summer the entire eighteen.
An article in the Globe-Democrat on September 29, 1901, announced the formation of the Normandie Park Club and a week later on October 6, both the Post and Globe announced that a temporary course with 9-holes was available for play by the members. Given the fact that there was a course available for play within a week of the club’s founding lays credence that some construction must have taken place prior to the formation of the club! Also, in April 1902, the full 18-holes and clubhouse were opened for use. To assume that all this took place between October 1901 and April 1902, during a St. Louis winter, would not be practical, though it is conceivable. To further confuse the issue, from the book “Architects of Golf” authors Ron Whitten & Geoffrey Cornish credit Robert Foulis as the designer of both courses along with his brother Jim at Glen Echo, with the dates of Normandie as 1901 and Glen Echo as 1902, which are obviously inaccurate. Whatever the case, Glen Echo was definitely organized prior to Normandie, as a golf club and was opened for play first.
However, without question, the 9-holes at the Log Cabin Club superseded both Glen Echo and Normandie in the area, making it the area’s oldest course, regardless of the criteria used in addressing location, positioning Glen Echo the area’s oldest 18-hole layout. With Normandie having gone public in 1984, it may well be one of the oldest 18-hole public courses west of the Mississippi, but even that status has some doubters with several courses in Colorado, Oregon, and California making their case for the same recognition.
Since Robert Foulis was the designer of both courses, with his brother Jim assisting on Glen Echo, one story suggests that Normandie may have been partially constructed and then the crew moved to Glen Echo to complete that layout for the May opening before moving back to Normandie to complete their work. However, there is no documentation for this theory. The actual events may never be known for the records have long since been misplaced and the courses as envisioned by the brothers remain a long-lost image on the retina of their eyes!