Lehigh Country Club Early History
FIRST. The name of the Corporation shall be The Lehigh Country Club.
SECOND. The purpose for which the corporation is formed is:
To maintain a Club to promote social recreation and intercourse among its members.
To encourage and stimulate an interest in Golf, Tennis and other outdoor sports.
The above statements were included in the original article for incorporation filed with the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County on November 17, 1910 and granted by the court on December 12, 1910. These two statements are also the first two in our bylaws. After 75 years the original purpose for the club has not changed.
The inception of the club was in the early 1900's when a golf course was built near 17th and Walnut Streets. It was known as the Allentown Golf Club. As interest in golf grew, a group decided to establish a new 9-hole course and clubhouse in the area known as Rittersville. The reason for the location selection between Allentown and Bethlehem was the number of members from Bethlehem and Catasauqua areas. In 1910 the name of Lehigh Country Club came into being. The golf course and clubhouse were completed in 1912, and by 1917 the membership totaled 456. World War I was declared on April 6, 1917, and the club was closed until April 1, 1918, and then opening only for the summer months.
The 1919 Prohibition Amendment required the disposal of all alcoholic beverages. Dues at this time were $100.00 Entrance fee for a family; Annual dues $120.00 and Golf dues $10.00.
1920 Membership decreased to 375.
In 1923 there was considerable interest in obtaining additional land to add nine holes to the existing course, or a new site for an 18-hole course. The Board recommended that a location for a new course be investigated. In January of 1924, a committee was formed to examine two sites — the Schadt Estate on the Jordan Creek near Sherersville, and the Penna. Trojan Powder Co., also along the Jordan Creek. Neither site was selected.
In 1925 membership dropped to 349. The decrease in membership was not due to any failure on the part of the Club to function properly, but mainly due to the fact that during those years both the Northampton Country Club and Saucon Valley Country Club came into being, both with an 18-hole golf course. This put the financial burden solely on the Allentown area members.
In June the new President, Mr. C. R. Harned, announced that a group had found a site that was considered acceptable. It was located near Wieda's mill, consisting of two farms that dated back to a Penn Grant. The Kemmerer and Kline farms were the choice totaling 206 acres along the Little Lehigh River for $55,000. A syndicate of 42 members met in September, and each provided $500 for a sum of $21,000 to purchase the farms with a mortgage of $38,000. On October 10, 1925 at a special meeting of the Board, a resolution was approved to accept the syndicate's offer to convey the property to the Club, including cash approximately $4,000 less $450 in expenses. The Club was to reimburse each Syndicate member $500, payable over two years without interest.
On December 19, at a special membership meeting each member would be issued a Certificate of Proprietary Membership on payment of $500. A limit of 400 Proprietary members and 100 golf members was also enacted. The entrance fee was established at $100, annual dues $100, and $50 for golf.
On March 15, 1926 Mr. Henry Williams was employed as Golf Pro for the new course. (He was preceded by Mr. George Parr, originally from Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland. He resigned prior to the start of the new course.)
At a May 17, 1926 meeting the Board approved a contract with Toomey and Flynn of Philadelphia for construction of the golf course at their bid of $109,120 and by December 20, 1926 they had completed their contract on the course. All work was done by hand labor, drop bottom wagons, horse drawn scoops, and one trailer tractor. Mr. Paul Weiss who had been the construction supervisor for Toomey and Flynn was employed as Greenskeeper.
The full year of 1927 was spent in developing the course into a playing condition. It was not an easy task as heavy rains created gullies in a number of areas. One gully of considerable damage occurred running through the present #17 and #2 fairways with depths of 3 to 4 feet and a width of 4 feet. A sinkhole also developed on number 10 green with about one-third of the green dropping down some 6 to 7 feet. The Chairman of the Golf Committee at this time was Mr. Joseph S. Young, assisted by Mr. Leland E. Smith. Water diversion proved to be a continuing problem for a number of years.
At a January 9, 1928 special meeting of the membership, approval was given to issue debentures not to exceed $125,000 as funding for the erection and furnishing of a new clubhouse. On April 12, the Board awarded contracts for construction of a new clubhouse. The course was opened on Memorial Day with President Harned driving the first ball from what is now #5 tee. During construction, the farmhouse (which is now the manager's home) was used as a temporary clubhouse. The present clubhouse was opened on December 31, 1928. Shortly after the completion of the clubhouse the original clubhouse was gutted by fire, and then the land was sold.
Since 1928 with the opening of the clubhouse, many additions and improvements have been made to the Club. The front entrance, rooms and lobby were added in 1968. However, without the foresight and persistence of the early members in overcoming financial difficulties, especially during the depression years, this beautiful Club would not have been possible.
Special appreciation to John H. Leh, Leland E. Smith and Joseph S. Young for their review and comments on this condensed history of Lehigh Country Club.
Lehigh Country Club Celebrated 100 Years in 2010!