From Humble Beginnings...
The Cedar Rapids Country Club was organized in 1904 when a small group of businessmen decided they liked the game of golf and wanted a permanent place to play it.
Back in 1896 brothers George, Walter, and Will Douglas had introduced golf to Cedar Rapids. George and Walter visited Scotland that year and they came home fired with a desire to establish a course for themselves and their friends. Golf clubs were first swung in Cedar Rapids when the Douglas boys laid out several fairways in a Judge Greene’s pasture, between Mound Farm and the Milwaukee tracks, east of 17th Street. The golf fever soon infected others. Larger grounds were needed.
So a group of ten men leased from Mrs. U. C. Blake 30 acres between First and Grande Avenues east of Nineteenth Street. In 1904, as the city grew, the Club decided to obtain a larger and more permanent location. For this purpose the Country Club Land Company was formed, with 96 subscribers investing $15,100.00. One hundred eighty acres of land along Indian Creek was purchased at $75 an acre. Part of that land had been used as a state rifle range.
John S. Ely was elected first president of the land company and George B. Douglas was the first president of the country club with Malcolm V. Bolton as secretary. Mr. Ely’s records show that in 1897 his golf dues came to $5.00. In 1904 he paid $25. At the same time the Cedar Rapids Country Club was formed and one share of land company stock, at $100 par, was accepted by the Club for two Club memberships, one for the owner and the other for his disposal to an acceptable Club member.
In 1900 the group erected a small clubhouse midway of the course and the country club atmosphere developed: the women appearing in their big hats, high-necked, floor-length dresses and high top shoes. A larger Clubhouse was built in 1904.
The Indian Creek property was converted into a nine-hole golf course with clubhouse. Scottish golf course architect Tom Bendelow, designed the nine hole course with the longest hole of 400 yards. In 1914, the land company exchanged 9.36 acres of hilly terrain, lying west of fairway No. 2, for 9.62 acres of fairly level ground owned by Arthur M. Tschirgi. This area provided space for a practice course and new tennis courts.
In 1915, the golf course was lengthened to 18 holes. Donald Ross, Chicago banker and a Scottish golf architect, was sent to Cedar Rapids by Ralph Van Vechten to lay out the extended course. Ross told Amor Sargent, president of the Club at the time, that only the Mayfield course in Cleveland could match the Cedar Rapids course for beauty. He kept the original first and ninth holes, with #9 becoming the new number #18. Accuracy was the major feature of the Donald Ross design and Indian Creek became more a part of the course layout.
In 1923, the pool was built, significant for being the first outdoor pool to be built in the state of Iowa. The land company was dissolved in 1925, its ownership having passed to the Club, its purpose having been fulfilled. In 1927, the original wooden structured Clubhouse burned down, and in 1928 the brick Clubhouse was built. In 1993, the pool underwent a redesign and became the largest walk-in pool in Iowa. Over the years, various additions and renovations have made the Cedar Rapids Country Club the beautiful golf, tennis, dining, and sporting establishment we have today.
CLICK HERE to read an interview with Cedar Rapids CC Member of the Golf Restoration Committee, Vaughn Halyard, that includes a detailed history of the golf course and our course restoration.