The Loop

The evolution of the world's best clubhouse

September 24, 2016

My golf club has the world's best clubhouse:

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It has many cool features, including a porch for waiting out lightning delays:


And plaques on the ceiling listing all our club champions back to 1915 (when the club was already 26 years old):


And shelves filled with old trophies:


And an entryway ceiling that looks like this:


And, best of all, no restaurant (although it does have a small kitchen). Because there's no restaurant, my friends and I take turns handling our own shopping and cooking:


Golf in my town began in the 1880s, and one of the people who introduced it was the guy who owned the house in the photo below. The house isn't as big as it looks, because it's only one room deep -- an innovation that allows breezes to blow all the way through, making it cooler in the summer. Just to the left of the house you can see the roof of what the owner called his "golf house."

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He and his friends would hit balls from a flat area next to it, and they laid out nine short holes in the sheep pastures on the far side of the hill -- my town's first course. To get to three of the holes, you had to cross a river on a pontoon bridge:


The golf house (which still exists) can probably be considered my club's first clubhouse -- even though it was really just a shed and the club wasn't formally organized until 1889:


In about 1903, the club bought land on the other side of town and, on 40 acres, laid out the nine-hole course we play today. About a decade after that, they merged with a local social club, and later the merged club swapped a tennis court it owned to a local boarding school for a small building that the school had used as a fraternity house. A team of oxen to move the building from the school to the golf course, where it became the clubhouse:


Here's the tennis court the school got in return:


The house beyond the tennis court in the photo above was built in about 1790 and served as the social club's clubhouse from 1903 until the 1940s, when it became a dormitory at the boarding school. In 1969, the school decided to tear it down, to make room for a new dormitory, but at the last minute they sold it for a dollar to a local guy, who moved it a quarter of a mile away (though not with oxen):


Since 1985, that house has been my house. Meanwhile, the golf clubhouse was enlarged several times. In 1925, the club's caddies posed for a photograph on the front steps, which had been added not long before (below). The grownup at the far right is the pro, and the little kid in the dark shirt in the middle of the first row is his son. The son eventually succeeded the father, and when I joined, in 1991, the club's pro was the son of the son:

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By the 1950s, the clubhouse looked like this:


A few years ago, during a renovation, carpenters stripped the shingles from one end, and for a while you could see the outline of the original part -- the old fraternity house -- on the right in the photo below (and on the far left in the photo above):


On the inside, the original part is now mostly the women's locker room (which doesn't have any lockers):


Recently, we did some remodeling. Everything still looks pretty much the same as it always has -- just nicer. Here's the main room, which now has card tables and a working TV:


The TV the guys are watching in the photo above replaced a smaller TV, which is still on the wall behind it. If we ever get an even bigger TV, we'll put it in front of both of those:


We also added a small bar, where we keep our kegerator. Chic, our chairman, told the carpenter that he'd like to have some shelves above the kegerator for pitchers. The carpenter thought he meant "pictures," so he made the shelves just deep enough to hold 8-by-10 picture frames. You can't put beer pitchers on them, but they're the right size for our extensive collection of beer glasses, which were given to us by the GolfBeer Brewing Company, an esteemed sponsor of the Sunday Morning Group:


Chic says that we aren't supposed to refer to the bar as a bar, and are instead supposed to call it the "beverage area" -- I assume for some legal reason. To remind everybody, I made this sign:

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Our clubhouse has changed a lot over the past hundred years. It's bigger and more comfortable, and there's an ice maker in the kitchen and a kegerator in the beverage area, and the guy from Charter finally got the cable to work. But in all the important ways the building isn't all that different from what it was when the oxen dropped it off.

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