1900s Terrell C. Drinkwater History of the Los Angeles Country Club 1898-1973, Unknown publisher, 1973, 127 pp., 1898, 1897, 1890s, 1900, 1900s, 1927, 1946,

Terrell C. Drinkwater History of the Los Angeles Country Club 1898-1973, Unknown publisher, 1973, 127 pp., 1898, 1897, 1890s, 1900, 1900s, 1927, 1946,

p. 48] . . .

     [p. 53] . . . 

     In 1900 Santa Fe [Railroad] published its first annual Golf in California booklet. It used some hyperbole in an effort to lure eastern golfers west “when winter locks the club house gates and drive shivering caddies home”  . . . 

     . . . 

     What did Golf in California have to say about The Los Angeles Country Club? 

     “Foremost among the clubs of Southern California stands the Los Angeles Country Club, an organization whose regular features embrace golf, tennis and trap shooting. The grounds are located within a short distance of the heart of the city and are reached by electric car or over beautiful drives by private conveyance.

     “So rapid has been the growth of the club that in August, 1899, the old nine-hole course was abandoned and new grounds secured. [p. 54] where, on 106 acres as pretty ground as one could wish to drive a ball over, a new eighteen-hole course was laid out.”

     A new clubhouse had been built . . . the investment represents about $36,000 . . . Huge ditches cross this property at two points, and these, with five artificial bunkers, form numerouse and dangerous obstacles. The land is rolling ot a high degree, bordering almost on chasms and table lands, consequently the course is exceedingly sporty.”

     . . . 

     Famous men were coming to Southern California in the winters so they could play golf. 

      John D. Rockefeller, the titan of Standard Oil, whose puckered mouth and 10 cent tips were famous, spent some time at the Hotel Green in Pasadena 

     “. . . the competing players were so busy watching the multmillionaire that  . . . scores suffered terribly . . .  

     . . . 

     [p. 76] [A new rubber ball was questioned] . . . but “the exhilaration of a long drive overcomes this disapproval.”

     Years later Tufts admitted he used the new rubber ball for long holes but “sneaked in a guttie for short holes. As this (rubber) ball became perfected it revolutionize [d] the entire game . . . including links, implements, and dispositions.”

     An abortive event which was to determine the present location of The Los Angeles Country Club occurred soon after the start of the 20th Century. Just beyond the tiny village of Beverly Hills, Sartori had acquired an option on about 3,700 acres of Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, commonly called the Wolfskill Ranch. It extended roughly from the present intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica westward to approximately what is now the San Diego Freeway. The Wolfskill ranch home sat virtually where the Mormon Temple now stands, just above the Santa Monica-Overland intersection

     Sartori, a lawyer who had moved into banking when he came west from Iowa . . . was now bullish about the westward growth of Los Angeles, particularly between Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

     [Sartori’s investors refused to invest in the huge Wolfskill piece], feeling the land was suitable only for growing barley and barley would be unprofitable on land costing $150 per acre.

     [But] by 1904 some members of the Club decided to look for another golf course site, that the Pico-Western property was not suitable for a permanent home. The soil was heavy with adobe and playing conditions were difficult be the weather wet or dry. Very preliminary thought was being given to having grass fairways and adobe resisted the growth of grass. Even trees struggled to grow. It was also felt that the Pico-Western acreage, now that clubs were improving and the new type of balls could be bit farther, was too restricted. 

     As the Club started its search, Sartori thought again of the Wolfskill Ranch . . .  [p. 77] he offered Wolfskill $1,000 cash for a 30-day option on 320 acres, approximately the present size and location of the Club’s land, at $150 per acre. 

    The next day Sartori loaded four Club directors into his recently purchased phaeton automobile and they chugged along Wilshire past the La Brea tarpits with their surrounding barley and bean fields, beyond the trolley station, named Morocco Junction, that served Beverly Hills, to the point where the Los Angeles and Pacific streetcar ran west along what is now Santa Monica Boulevard.

     Continuing on Wilshire, then a narrow, two-lane, unpaved road, Sartori’s high-bodied, big-wheeled car crossed what is now the east boundary of The Los Angeles Country Club. From their high seats, Sartori and his four directors—Albert Crutcher, then (1904) president of the Club; Percy Wilson, past president; Ed Tufts and Frank Hicks—could generally survey the proposed acreage.

     The south boundary abutted 2,100 feet of the railroad right-of-way. Santa Monica Boulevard had not yet been built. Looking over what is now the South Course the undulating acreage, except for a few sycamores along a dry stream bed now near the  property’s western border, was bare . . .

     . . .

     [p. 78] Sartori spent most of Christmas Day, 1904, his 46th birthday, writing a circular to be distributed to Club members. It went out Dec. 28.

     The circular proposed that a new corporation, the Country Club Realty Company be formed with a capital stock of $100,000, divided into 1,000 shares of $100 each, 550 shares to be sold at par, sales to be limited to members of the Club. No one member or family would be permitted to buy more than 10 shares. That would raise $55,000 with $48,000 going for land, the balance for “paying taxes, making improvements, etc.” The 450 unsold shares would remain in the corporation’s treasury.

     The Club was to have the right of selecting and purchasing 130 to 150 acres of the 320 acres at $150 per acre providing such a transaction was found to be legal. If it was not, the 130 to 150 acres would be rented to the Club on a long term lease basis. 

     Within a week some 60 members had subscribed to the stock, raising the required $55,000. The Club came close to being again forced into a rental situation when it was found that a non-profit corporation organized for social purposes could not own more than 50 acres in rural areas. But Club members went to work on legislators and in 1905 the acreage impediment was removed.

     With the legal hurdle cleared, a second circular, dated October, 22, 1905, was distributed to the membership. The Realty Company offered to sell the Club 140 of its 320 acres for $22,300 payable over an eight year period. 

     “No other tract of land,” said the circular, signed by the entire board, "has been offered or found adjoining an electric line, less distant, so reasonable in price, and within the means and ability of the Country Club to buy . . . It is believed, that in the near future, the influence of the Club will cause the construction of a good road to these grounds . . ." The board recommended purchase of the land and “prompt development of the new property for Club purposes.” Members voted almost unanimously for the proposal.

     The Country Club Land Association, which had purchased the Pico-Western property just so it could be rented to the Club, was selling the property, purchased for $250 per acre, to subdividers for $2,250 an acre. [p. 79]

     [p. 79]  . . .

     On June 19, 1907, the Board wrote Club members a long letter . . . providing money necessary to erect a clubhouse and improve the grounds, finish paying for the grounds . . . the clubhouse will be built on the most modern and commodious lines, and apartments will be provided for members who wish to stay over night or during the week .   . .

     Sartori and Tufts were in their element again, planning layout of the Club’s fourth course along with Charles Orr and Norman Macbeth . . .  They were determined to design the “toughest” 18 hole course in Southern California. 

     [p. 81] Drawing of “Uncle Ed” Tufts  [ -1927] 

     [p. 92]  . . .  Sartori, in a late October, 1910 letter to his wife, showed he was following construction of the new clubhouse quite closely . . .

     “. . .

     “Many people were out there this afternoon. We must have a big automobile barn, or garage, and don’t know where to put it. Between this and the California Club (of which Sartori had just been elected president) and the tax amendment and other businesses your husband has his hands full . . .

     Meanwhile, the course’s 18 greens and tees were being leveled and the fairways mounded and ditched. Sartori, Tufts, Macbeth and Orr reluctantly decided it would be impossible to have grass and fairways because of lack of water. Tees would remain asphalt and greens oiled sand. 

     Tufts was already experimently with fairway grass at Pico-Western.

     “Along in 1910,” he wrote in 1925 in a special article, California Turns the Trick, for the SCGA, “it occurred to me that bermuda grass, the curse of Southern California lawns, might, with care, be used for fairways. We planted a patch . . . at the Country Club.”

     The bermuda was watered, allowed to completely dry out, watered again. It was recuperative and tough. “In the spring [p. 93]  (1911) it came up green and strong. Here was grass that would not only exist but would thrive in California heat.

     “So we piped our fairways (at the Beverly Hills course) for sprinkling systems. We drilled wells to provide adequate water supplies and we planted (in 1911-1912) our dirt fairways to bermuda. With care and with water the grass grew and within a year’s time the dirt course at the Los Angeles Country Club had been converted to turf. 


(Back to 1900s)

 Kelyn Roberts 2017