|IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS A FARM... |
In 1898, some 50 young ladies and gentlemen of Youngstown organized the Mahoning Golf Club and, in a year, completed a nine-hole course and a small frame Clubhouse on the Bissell farm, located well beyond the city outskirts, but still a comfortable walk from the end of the Elm Street trolley line. Today the land would border the northern bounds of Wick Park; in fact, the Clubhouse still stands at 240 North Heights Street. In 1909 the name was changed to The Youngstown Country Club.
It was no disgrace then to play less than nine holes on those warm days when the course played too long. Lady golfers, their swings restricted by styles of dress, were described as rare but zestful players. Yearly dues were $10 for each adult member, enough to rent a steamroller in the spring to level the course, and a horse-drawn mower for the summer. Sunday golfing was publicly scorned. Still and all, the game gained acceptance here just 10 years after being introduced to the United States.SATURDAY AFTERNOON TEA
Children, mostly, played tennis. And the main social event was Saturday afternoon tea, arranged by the ladies to greet their gentlemen players returning spent from a rigorous nine. These teas, more nearly banquets, fell to the day's hostess who brought food, china, silver, napery and maids from home, probably to out-perform the hostess before. Since there was no ballroom, dancing parties were given at the Pioneer Pavilion in Mill Creek Park.
A growing city forced the Club to move in 1905 to an area in the country that can be placed along Crandall Park and Andrews Hollow, running from Ohio Avenue almost to Belmont. The first green was near Fifth Avenue; the Hollow was a formidable rough, particularly unforgiving of slices. Again safe from urban sprawl, a more elaborate Clubhouse, later becoming the Yale School, was built. It housed locker rooms, a reception hall, kitchen, pantry and servants' quarters. In 1907 the Club hosted the Ohio State Golf Tournament.
Two years later The Youngstown Country Club moved to its present site on the 131-acre Holland farm. Designed by Walter Travis, an 18-hole course was built at a cost of $75,000. The new $60,000 Clubhouse made headlines for its elegance and model comfort. A brilliant evening reception on June 28, 1912 marked the formal opening. Newspaper accounts told of its dining room seating 40, of special china emblazoned with the Club crest, of a drying machine for wet golfing clothes, of the ballroom and the billiard room in the attic.
The Club's first Ladies Day was observed on July 19, 1915, perhaps six tables of bridge and two foursomes on the course for an hour or so. Two-ball mixed foursomes were not introduced until the summer of 1918 when the young men of the city began returning from the First World War. In 1925 the 25th Open Championship of the Western Golf Association was played here. Legends of the game like Hagen, Sarazen and Armour graced our property with Macdonald Smith emerging as the ultimate winner. Our first greens keeper, Col. John Morley, founded the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America in 1926. In 2009, Morley received the Old Tom Morris Award and joined names like Arnie Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones as previous winners.
Walter Travis - Original Designer of The Youngstown Country Club golf course
A fire at the start of the 1928 season destroyed most of the Club building, miraculously sparing the men's locker room. Reconstructed before Memorial Day 1929, there was much talk that the Club's new grandeur would be regretted. Fortunately for the members of today, it never was.
Since then, the Club has added a ballroom, a paved parking lot, six tennis courts, two platform tennis courts, a warming hut, two complete skeet fields and lodge, a swimming pool, new locker rooms and Grille Room, and an electronically controlled watering system. In 1974 four tennis courts were lighted for evening play. In the 1980's two ambitious programs were undertaken to upgrade the golf course and refurbish portions of the Clubhouse. In 1993, a mixed grill room appropriately named The Terrace Room was added, providing a stunning view of the 9th hole, 1st, 10th and 18th fairways as well as the 1st and 10th tees. Continuing improvements of all facilities have amply fulfilled a journalist's brave prediction early in this century of a club destined to be high in the ranks of America's finest.
Aerial Photo of The Youngstown Country Club in 1925
Walter Travis - Original
Designer of The Youngstown
Country Club golf course
A letter from Donald Ross to our first greens keeper in reference to founding the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Morley is credited as the founder and this organization now has over 70,000 members.