Class of 2013
San Antonio Country Club
When a group of friends living in Laurel Heights organized a club in 1904 for “the support, maintenance and promotion of golf, tennis, and other innocent outdoor sports” they founded the entity that became the San Antonio Country Club, an institution that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1904. The year of its founding was the same year that Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, and construction began on the Panama Canal. The San Antonio Country Club’s rich history is a kaleidoscope of the past hundred years of memories and experiences of its members. Activities on the golf course, tennis courts and swimming pool have provided entertainment for thousands of people. The buildings and grounds echo with sounds - voices, laughter, music, children playing and the thwack of golf balls and tennis balls being hit.
The industrial revolution changed America: many people had more leisure time, and the game of golf, a recent import from Scotland, attracted many enthusiastic players. The first club in Texas was organized in Dallas in 1895 and by 1899 the first golf course in San Antonio was built. The nine prominent business men who established the San Antonio Golf and Country Club wanted a private club for themselves and friends where they could play both golf and tennis and even entertain with parties. Three years after the San Antonio Golf and Country Club was organized the founders reorganized it into the San Antonio Country Club, bought land and built their own facilities which are still situated on the same site almost 109 years later. The original architect is none other than Alex Findley, consider by most as one of the Founding Fathers of golf.
The state of Texas played a major role in the development of the golfing tradition in America and some of the game’s greatest players have been Texans. Likewise, the San Antonio Country Club, a founder of the Texas Golf Association in 1906, has been dominant in shaping golf in Texas. Many champion golfers have played at the Club, including Bobby Jones, Walter Hagan, an exhibition match in 1913 between Harry Vardon and Edward Ray. Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Bryon Nelson, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Kite, Babe Zaharias, Tom Watson and young Tiger Woods, who won the AJGA in 1992 here at SACC, and our own Bill Rogers who was Director of Golf at the Club for ten years and British Open Champion in 1980. Betty Jameson, one of the greatest women golfers in America and a founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, played out of SACC from 1937, following her win at the Women’s Trans-Miss tournament, until her retirement. As a teenager she was a student of Tod Menefee, San Antonio Country Club Golf Professional for forty-two years, 1938 to 1980.
San Antonio Country Club was also a major factor in the development of tennis in Texas, and many of the world’s greatest tennis players have played at the Club, including U.S. Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis, donor of the Davis Cup. Other famous players are Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Chuck McKinley, Dennis Ralston, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Dick Stocktron, Dick Savit, Frank Froeling, Art Larson and Hamilton Richardson.
The San Antonio Country Club is a family club providing a variety of activities for Club members of all ages, from the two-year-olds learning to swim, to their grandparents enjoying a game of bridge. The dining rooms and ballrooms have been the scene of countless parties and dances, and the places where many courtships began and weddings were celebrated.
The strong military presence in San Antonio is also reflected throughout the history of the Club. Membership rolls have included many prominent military officers who were stationed at the Club’s neighbor, Fort Sam Houston and other military installations in San Antonio. The Club can point with pride to its military members; among them are John L. Bullis, Arthur MacArthur, Leonard Wood, Frederick Funston, John “Black Jack” Pershing, Walter Krueger, and, of course, Five-Star General and 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike loved golf and he played his last round of golf before World War II and possibly his first round of golf after the war at the San Antonio Country Club.