A longtime member of the Denton Country Club called the early days of the golf course a “glorified pasture of up-and-down hills, [with] plenty of trees and nine very small sand greens.”
Bob Marquis wrote in 1985 that during the “old days, each tee box would be found in a wooden box, set up on legs, and holding a quantity of fine sand. This sand was used so that a player could make his own tees.”
His is one among several oral histories country club officials have on file, and as they celebrate the club’s 90th anniversary this week, they are looking for more.
The club started as a 9-hole state-of-the-art golf course in 1922.
The surroundings of the member-owned country club may have changed, but 90 years later, the spirit remains the same.
“This is a family-friendly club,” said Mary Margaret Moore, a 51-year member and the club’s unofficial historian. “It’s been a good thing.”
Moore and her husband, Don, joined the club in the early 1960s and since then have witnessed many of the club’s updates and changes, including some difficult moments.
“The golf course closed during World War II because so many of the guys joined the armed forces and went to war,” Mary Margaret Moore explained.
During its closure, the land was leased to area ranchers for cattle grazing, she said.
In 1947, the 9-hole course was reconstructed and reopened for play. Eventually, nine additional holes were added to complete the existing 18-hole course that architect Ralph M. Plummer designed, according to Denton Record-Chronicle archives.
The course is now 6,684 yards long, about 105 more yards than the average Texas golf course, according to TexasOutside.com.
In the past two years, the club added a new patio named after members Walt and Mildred Parker.
Other recent updates include a remodeled clubhouse, a renovated swimming pool and a new rest stop.
Jodi Piscitello, the club’s business manager, and Dean Nickerson, director of food and beverage, said the club offers four-star meals and service for indoor and outdoor weddings, receptions, banquets and business meetings.
Interested patrons do not have to be club members to enjoy what the club offers, Nickerson said.
Nature Miller, the country club’s controller, said that in its 90 years, the club has had at least two fires. During the winter of 1931, the clubhouse burned and all the contents were lost.
In March 1963, another fire left only two chimneys standing, according to Record-Chronicle archives. At the time, the loss was estimated to be at least $75,000. By then, the clubhouse had been rebuilt four times.
“The first clubhouse was a wooden structure. It was over there where the swimming pool used to be,” recalled Don Moore, who was president of the board in 1974. “It had nice views and a good bar. It was a nice place.”
In December 1984, club members demolished their clubhouse and built one the next year with windows on the back side and decks surrounding the building.
The new 20,000-square-foot building, which is the current clubhouse, includes a large formal dining room, an informal dining room, a pro shop, shower and locker rooms.
Since then, the club has added four tennis courts, a swimming pool and a children’s wading pool.
Jim Watson, a 40-year member, said he always remembers the many professional players and entertainers who walked through the doors of the club, including members of the original cast of Dallas and movie stars like Our Gang’s George “Spanky” McFarland and country singer Jimmy Dean.
“All of these people came for the Denton County Club Celebrity Pro Am,” Watson said about the professional charity program held each year at the beginning of the 1970s through the 1980s.
Now, with 620 members strong, the country club continues to embrace its sense of family and community gathering, one that Nickerson said is like no other.
“You can’t find that in any corporate club,” he said.
He said that sense of togetherness is also found among the staff. Many of the 65 to 70 employees have been working at the club for more than 10 years.
Brent Thornton, current president of the club’s board and senior vice president with North Star Bank, said members make it possible for the club’s prosperity after all these years.
“We have a hidden gem,” Thornton said. “With many people who come from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area to play.”
Thornton said the board is considering renovating the club’s main entrance, the clubhouse and the golf course in the next five years.
Mary Margaret Moore said she has been a golf fan since she was first introduced to the sport.
In the early years of their marriage, the Moores played a lot, she said.
“I played for years and loved it,” she said. “There is still a Ladies Golf Association here and I continue to be very active,” she said. “It is not an easy game. It takes awhile to play and you have to practice.”
During the past month, Moore has taken time to send letters to existing members and previous members so they could help her gather materials to tell the club’s 90-year history.
Because she and her husband have been essential to promoting positive values and good merits in the country club, and to celebrate their 51 years of involvement with the club, Mary Margaret and Don Moore’s names will be added to the club’s Ambassador Clock, a symbol of member’s contributions to the golf society.
On Saturday night in honor of the 90th anniversary, the club will also play host to a members-only celebration at the clubhouse.
KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .