In 1924 - 1925, a land development Club gave about two hundred acres of land five miles west of Fort Lauderdale to the city of Fort Lauderdale with the provision that a golf course be built on the site. On December 1, 1926 the new golf course was opened for play. Because the clubhouse was still being built on opening day, a tent was placed at the first tee where green fees were collected and golf supplies sold. The beautiful Spanish Mission-type clubhouse, designed by Francis L. Abreu, architect and a top expert on Spanish-style buildings, was not entirely finished until January 1927.
Unfortunately, by the early spring of 1928, with a population 8,640, the city found itself ”stone broke” due to the aftermath of a September 1926 hurricane, the burst of the 1924-1925 land boom and failure of the city’s three banks. In addition, the city discovered that a mistake had been made in the title to the property that had been donated for the golf course. An outstanding mortgage on the land in the amount of $30,000 appeared, which the city had to clear. To relieve the city of a non-paying enterprise, the city leased the golf course and clubhouse to a syndicate of Chicago Businessmen.
Because of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Depression of the 1930’s, the winter tourist business fell off. The Chicago syndicate did not renew their lease with the city. A local man at this time approached the city about leasing the golf course and clubhouse. The city, feeling this was a “good out” for them, leased the club to him on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, this gentleman too lost his money in bad investments. Soon the course was badly run down.
In mid-summer of 1936, the city decided to operate the golf course again. The city had started to grow again and the tourist trade began to pick-up. It was recognized that a good golf course was needed to attract more tourists to the city. With the end of the war, conditions improved for both the city and the golf course. Tourists came down by the thousands and the golf course flourished once again. Fortunately, there was smooth sailing for the next several years.
In September and October 1947, two severe hurricanes hit Fort Lauderdale. Each of these storms dumped fifteen inches of water on the course within a few hours. The water stood from fourteen inches to three feet deep from State Road 7, west over the golf course into the Everglades. It took two months before the water drained off and the course was dry enough to open it again for regular play. The next three following winter seasons were excellent ones for Fort Lauderdale Golf & Country Club. Approximately four to five hundred golfers were enjoying the single 18-hole course every day.
In the spring of 1950, population had shot up to 36,328. Because the city was growing so fast, the golf commission decided another eighteen holes of golf were needed. So another eighty acres adjoining the present course was purchased. The new course called “North Eighteen” was opened on December 1, 1951. Soon after, there were about six hundred golfers using the courses per day. The two courses ran smoothly through 1953. The club paid its own way, spending thousands in capital improvements on the clubhouse and golf courses, as well as turning over considerable surplus receipts to the city.
In 1957, a lawsuit was initiated by the Northwest Golfers Association demanding that the course integrate multiple races on its municipal golf course. The City Commission was concerned that integrating the course would cause the white patrons to go elsewhere, causing the course to be financially harmed. The big question of the day was should the city sell the golf course or try to integrate it. After many hearings, much deliberation and overall study of this weighty problem, most believed that ultimate sale was inevitable for many reasons. The city commission called for bids for the sale of the clubhouse and courses. On July 2, 1957, two bids were received. The bid of the Fort Lauderdale Men’s Golf Association in the amount of $562,400 was accepted.
Under the democratic process, Fort Lauderdale Country Club was organized with a set of By-Laws and a duly elected Board of Directors. This Board naturally changed in its membership each year but its members have always given unparingly of their time and efforts in molding this club into one of the finest private clubs in Broward County. In 1966 the club paid the city the purchase price and all other indebtedness and celebrated the occasion with a mortgage burning cocktail party in the clubhouse on the evening of February 10th.
In the summer of 1970 a new lake was dug on the North Course to provide more interesting play on the 7th, 8th and 9th holes. In addition, an elevated tee was constructed on the 9th hole overlooking the water. In that same year additional improvements were made. A five-foot hurricane wire fence was finally erected around both courses embracing a total area of nearly 300 acres.
In 1982 the original clubhouse was demolished and the present Spanish style clubhouse was constructed. The clubhouse, with the men’s and ladies card rooms, locker rooms, men’s bar, upstairs bar, cocktail lounge, and the main dining room, provides ample social and dining activity for the membership.
There are now two 18-hole golf courses, practice range and practice putting greens as part of the golf facilities. The South Course was redesigned and updated in 1990 and improvements were made to the North Course in 1999. In October 2014, we completed a driving range renovation with wall to wall Celebration grass.
Our clubhouse boosts sweeping views of the beautiful courses and magnificently landscaped grounds. Originally built in 1980, the current clubhouse underwent an extensive renovation in 2007 changing the presentation and layout of both the first and second floors.
The clubhouse also provides members with a congenial, intimate atmosphere and many of the comforts of a home away from home. And speaking of home, Fort Lauderdale Country Club is conveniently located just four miles west of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The Club’s mission is "To provide our members and their guests with a lifestyle of the highest quality through the traditions of golf.” In the Broward County area, which has numerous golf courses, Fort Lauderdale Country Club is the only private club that offers 36-holes of manicured championship golf in a forested park-like setting as well as the finest practice facility around. Visually, the Club is truly a unique oasis as fairways are lined with stately indigenous trees and colorful beds of flowers, as opposed to houses.
This information was taken from the History of Fort Lauderdale Country Club by Navy Captain Herman Rendtorrf.
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