With the dawn of the 20th century and the development of Corpus Christi, many residents decided that a new form of recreation was needed in town: a golf course.
The city’s first country club and golf course came, of all places, to North Beach. Corpus Christi Golf and Country Club’s first clubhouse was built quickly in September 1909, in order to be completed in time for President William Howard Taft’s October 22 visit. Taft was the new club’s first player and fired the first ball. In an October 20, 1999 column by Murphy Givens, he detailed how someone took a photo of the back of the president as he bent over the ball, and the photo, club and ball ended up displayed in a showcase at the club. for years.
The club did not last, however, and around 1914 the club and adjoining property were sold to investors who converted the clubhouse into a bathhouse. The entire structure was washed away in the 1919 hurricane.
But after the hurricane, gentlemen once again longed for a local connection. In 1921, several businessmen began a membership campaign and quickly reached the 100 members needed to get plans off the ground. The group hired John Bredemus to design the new course, which eventually had 18 holes, located about 2 miles west of downtown on Up River Road (then called Shell Road) near Nueces Bay. The place was originally known as Kaler Farm.
The official opening of the new Corpus Christi Golf and Country Club took place on Labor Day, September 4, 1922, and featured exhibition games throughout the day. Club members had been using the course for about a month before the official opening.
The Caller-Times was very pleased with the new course, stating in an August 11, 1922 editorial that “Golf may be the magic tonic for the ills of civilization caused by lack of exercise. It may also prove to be the valve security for the great nervous tension that grips so many of us.Or so Corpus Christi businessmen think.
The club soon became a center of social activities and formal events for the city’s high society. Around 1925 developers began planning the first neighborhood around the area, Country Club Place, followed by others like Oak Park, Nueces Bay Heights and Saxet Heights – and most acts restricted to whites only.
Then, in May 1931, came the announcement of Corpus Christi’s first industrial plant. Southern Alkali Corp. had purchased land near the Avery Turning Basin in the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and was going to build a refinery. The land adjoined the country club grounds.
In the mid-1930s oil was discovered northwest of Corpus Christi. Club members debated back and forth and eventually decided to allow oil leases on the land. Five shafts were drilled on the course and golfers even had to shoot over the shafts on the third and 18th holes. The wells were considered a minor inconvenience since the money the wells brought in allowed for further expansion.
In April 1963, the country club was ready to move. A majority of club members voted – with just two dissenting votes – to allow the board of governors to negotiate a land and property swap of the club’s 90-acre grounds for a new, clear 156-acre site across town on the emerging Southside, bordered by Everhart Road, Staples Street, Saratoga Boulevard and Holly Road.
Two years later, club members celebrated the grand opening of the new course and $600,000 clubhouse, and the old golf course near Up River Road finally became part of the Citgo refinery complex. .
Allison Ehrlich writes about things to do in South Texas and has a weekly Thursday column on local history. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.