On June 28, 1930 Oakhurst Golf and Country Club formally opened.
The golf course’s green fee was thirty-five cents to play nine holes and fifty cents to play all day.
At Oakhurst Golf and Country Club you could eat chicken and steak dinners and dance to the Rythm Stompers Orchestra.
What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of Oakhurst Golf and Country Club?
Ted Longworth, Harry Lee Whitaker, and Norman Voss, former employees of Glen Garden Country Club (see below), founded Oakhurst. Longworth, former Glen Garden pro, and Whitaker leased fifty-four acres east of downtown. Whitaker was the Oakhurst manager. The course’s first pros were Longworth and Ben Hogan. Voss built a two-story frame clubhouse building and operated it. Longworth laid out a nine-hole course. To the east the Oakhurst residential area was out of bounds. To the west the Trinity River was a water trap. To the north, Mount Olivet Cemetery was, well, a death trap. (Map detail from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)
The Star-Telegram on August 9 said course pro Hogan had just broken the course record. Of course, the course had been open only six weeks.
On September 7, 1933 2-irons were outmatched by two shootin’ irons as a pair of armed men hid in the dense woods of the course and approached golfers R. L. Johnson and R. B. Greenlee of Dallas on the fifth hole. The robbers took a total of $411. Fort Worth historian Harry Max Hill notes that Ben Hogan was playing on the course at the time of the robbery. Hogan wanted to fetch a rifle he kept in his car and give chase, but his playing partners dissuaded him from pursuing the two robbers in his desire to shoot a hole in one.
Speaking of holes-in-one, also in 1933 a “dodo” (one of the lesser-known birds of golf) was shot on the seventh hole.
In 1937 Hogan became Oakhurst’s pro-manager. But the country club closed the next year.
Interstate 35W and the campus of Calvary Cathedral International cover much of the Oakhurst course now, but this building, Harry Max Hill says, was the pro shop.
Here’s a nineteenth-hole toast to the ghosts of some other Fort Worth golf courses that, like Oakhurst, have gone the way of knickers and niblicks.
In the beginning golf in America was a game for the well-to-do, played at country clubs. Fort Worth was no exception. But before Fort Worth residents could play golf, they had to get a country club. On July 18 1902 the Telegram announced that Fort Worth Country Club had been organized with plans to build a country club with golf links near the site of Arlington Heights developer H. B. Chamberlin’s Ye Arlington Inn (burned 1894) at today’s intersection of Merrick and Crestline streets.
(1925 map detail from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)
The country club opened in July 1903. The Telegram wrote that the golf links would not be laid out until autumn because “the hot direct sun of the summer makes golfing nearly impossible.”
The Telegram wrote on November 16, 1902 of the sport of golf: “It takes an extraordinary hold of everyone who essays it and never lets go until the player passes to that land where the bunker is known not.”
The golf course opened in late 1903. R. G. MacAndrew, who laid out the course, predicted that “when the roughness wears off, the Country Club will have the finest golf links in the United States.”
Not surprisingly, Fort Worth’s first golf course is long gone. In 1910 members of Fort Worth Country Club who wanted a full eighteen-hole course formed a new country club: River Crest. FWCC was absorbed by River Crest. Built in 1911, the River Crest course lives on into its second century. Clip is from the October 24, 1910 Star-Telegram.
But what about golf for the non-country club set? Not until 1917 did the city begin to think about building a municipal golf course. Clip is from the February 4 Star-Telegram.
The city did not act hastily. Five years passed before the city bought ninety-six acres for Worth Hills municipal course near TCU. Worth Hills, nicknamed “Goat Hills,” opened in 1923. Clip is from the December 17, 1922 Star-Telegram.
No dodo at Worth Hills on Thanksgiving in 1925. The birdie of the day was a turkey.
Fast-forward down the fairway to 1961. City voters approved sale of the city’s first municipal golf course to TCU for campus expansion. Four years later Worth Hills would be posthumously immortalized in 1965 by Dan Jenkins in a Sports Illustrated article entitled “The Glory Game at Goat Hills.” Clip is from the September 14 Dallas Morning News.
On the South Side, privately owned Katy Lake golf course opened in 1926 as the city’s fifth course. Because the course was laid out around a former railroad storage lake, five of the nine holes had water hazards.
Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan played Katy Lake as youngsters. The Katy course was said to feature sand greens, but Dan Jenkins told Golf Digest: “The greens weren’t really sand, I found out. They were dark brown cottonseed hull. Oiled so they wouldn’t blow away. There was an iron rake on every green—you raked your line from the ball to the cup before you putted.” According to Jenkins, the Katy course closed in 1943. The Katy Lake site, of course, became Seminary South. Clips are from the August 31, 1928 and December 23, 1929 Dallas Morning News.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Z. Boaz became the city’s second municipal course, made possible after Benbrook landowner Z. Boaz donated land in 1928. The course opened in 1930. This clip is from October 4, 1928.
Z. Boaz and Oakhurst both held tournaments in October 1931.
Golf benefactor Z. Boaz died in 1935 and is buried in Benbrook Cemetery. In 2012 the city closed his namesake course. (What does the “Z.” stand for? Beats me. Boaz was listed as “Z.” in news stories, censuses, city directories, and on his death certificate. Note that the Star-Telegram obituary lists a brother named “X. Boaz.”)
On the East Side, century-old Glen Garden Country Club closed in 2014.
Glen Garden Country Club was organized in 1913 by, among others, produce distributor Ben E. Keith and H. H. Cobb of the nearby Cobb brick plant and O. K. Cattle Company. The “inexpensive playground” was built on O. K. Cattle Company ranchland and reachable by the Cleburne interurban line. Young Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson caddied at Glen Garden. Clips are from the April 17, 1913 and November 27, 1914 Star-Telegram.
In 1939, twelve years after winning his first amateur tournament at the Katy Lake course, Byron Nelson won the U.S. Open. Clip is from the June 18 Reading Eagle of Pennsylvania.
These were the Fort Worth courses in 1940, as listed in Texas, a Guide to the Lone Star State.
In the early fifties, as African-Americans continued their crusade for equality, they were not allowed access to the city’s municipal courses. Under pressure by the Fort Worth Negro Golf Association and other groups, the city built nine-hole Harmon Field for African-Americans. The course, located south of Greenway Park, opened June 13, 1954. The pond seen in the aerial photo north of the soccer fields was created as a water hazard by diverting water from a storm-drain channel.
Note the byline in this clip from the June 4, 1954 Fort Worth Press. But Harmon Field golf course was short-lived. When U.S. Highway 287 was built it squeezed out Harmon Field. The course closed on April 1, 1958 and, like the other courses surveyed here, passed “to that land where the bunker is known not.”
(Thanks and a tip of the flagstick to historian Harry Max Hill.)