The Foundation is Laid
Nestled in the quiet residential community of Gunbarrel Greens, Boulder Country Club has enjoyed its present location for the last forty-nine years. Its origination however can be traced to shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. In January 1910, at a banquet at the Boulderado Hotel the initial plans for a golf club were presented by Dr. W.P. Harlow, J.F. Moorhead and James Cowie, among others. By April of that year, 259 acres were purchased in the Owens Lake area by Moorehead, Cowie and Harlow in addition to W. H. Allison, Judge H.P. Gamble, L.C. Paddock and W.S. Whiteley. These investors envisioned a club membership of 70 memberships, each paying $50 in annual dues. There would be 200 first mortgage bonds issued at $100 par, 6% interest, and 200 shares of common stock at $100 per share. A limited number of charter memberships would also be available after payment of a $10 initiation fee instead of obtaining a bond.
Although a great deal of effort was initiated by these gentlemen, the first drive for golf club was detained until 1914. At a new location on the south side of Baseline Road between Grant Street on the east and Gregory Canyon on the west, the first 7-hole course was developed. The Clubhouse was located on Ninth Street. Charter members of the Club paid a $10 initiation fee and $10 annual dues. After the first 100 members were enrolled, the initiation increased to $15. In 1914, the Club officers included T.A. McHarg, President, H.P. Gamble, Vice President, C.F. Linsley, Secretary and C. Henry Smith, Captain. The Club was structured to be led by a Board of Directors of 9 men which included the five officers and four additional members. Each served a 3-year term, with three new members being elected to replace three outgoing members annually. This structure continues to this day. However at this time, women are co-members of the Club and also serve on the Board of Directors.
In 1919, for reasons unknown, the Boulder Golf Club reorganized and developed a plan for a 9-hole course located on the Sale Farm in the area presently known as Palo Park. The Clubhouse, which still stands, was built of stone and is currently known as the Emerson Place.
By 1922 the 9-hole course was completed and became well utilized. The grass fairways were irrigated and the greens were sand. Members would play the course twice, using different tee boxes for the second nine. Fees for playing the course were $1.00 per round for members, with the exception of Saturdays, Sundays and holidays when the charge was $2.00. Caddies were available for $.70 per 18 holes. The course was also used for instruction to men and women by the University of Colorado.
By January of 1928, interest in golf was increasing to the point that consideration was given to expanding the course to 18 holes. Even though the Club was leasing the Sale property (with an option to purchase) extension of the lease seemed to indicate greater expense that the prospect of purchasing another site. The Sale property was limited to 65 acres and not really large enough for a full 18 holes. By the time, the initiation had increased to $27.50 per year with annual dues of $40 per year. Late in 1928, W.H. Tucker, a golf architect, who was an advisor to Cherry Hills and Lakewood courses, was consulted. He was asked to evaluate 4 sites which the Board thought were possibilities for a new 18-hole course all of which consisted of a minimum of 200 acres. Tucker’s recommendation was to consider the Odlum tract located east of town on Arapahoe as the best choice. The location contained interesting topography and the soil was rich and would easily produce the proper grasses. The general cost of upkeep would be reasonable.
18 Holes…At Last!
As Boulder, and the nation, responded to the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression, plans to relocate the Club were delayed until the City of Boulder became interested in the possibility of developing a municipal golf course in 1933. Golf was becoming popular throughout northern Colorado and a golf association had been developed. A site on Arapahoe Road opposite the Odlum tract had become available through a donation made by Fred Chase to the Congregational Church. The Church was willing to sell it for $12,000. The City was persuaded to purchase the land, and Boulder Country Club was to raise $15,000 to help build the golf course. In order to raise the money, the Club was again reorganized and incorporated as the Boulder Municipal Sports Center. The agreement with the City was that the City would own the land but the Club would run the golf course. The Club could retain its private members, but the course had to be open to the public. Funds were raised by this new non-profit corporation and were matched by the WPA. William Tucker finally was able to design a course and the WPA completed the work on the east 9 holes.
The first 9 holes at the new site were ready for play in 1937. In 1938, 6,000 rounds of golf were played providing an income of $3,946.53. The Club was not fiscally healthy, however. There were only 121 members in 1939 and debt was growing. A new member drive was begun with the goal to achieve 175 members. Without the influx of income, it would be difficult to finish the course.
During the Second World War years, Club membership declined. It was not until 1947 that the course was completed. An effort was then made to construct a clubhouse for use by the members only. In March of 1948, the Boulder City Council authorized the execution of a deed and agreement to sell a building site at the golf course to the Boulder Municipal Sports Center. The City had paid $12,000 for 134 acres or $89 per acre and offered to sell the Club 1.4 acres for $124. It was then determined $25,000 was needed to build the new clubhouse. The Boulder Municipal Sports Center was a non-profit corporation and, as such, could not issue stock which would have been the most expedient way to raise money. Therefore on August 21, 1948, a new corporation was formed, the Boulder Country Club. The first order of business was to issue 200 shares of stock at $125 par value. The non-profit corporation was to continue to run the golf course. The new clubhouse was constructed and opened in November, celebrated by a buffet dinner attended by 192 members.
On July 6, 1949, the first Annual Meeting of the Boulder Country Club was held. Assets of $31,322.26 were reported. Between 1949 and 1965 the Club expanded the amenities offered to their membership to include an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts. Social activities enjoyed by the membership included, Monte Carlo nights, inter-city golf for men and women, bridge, bingo, movies and travelogues. Ballroom and square dances were held. For 12 years, Lu and his brother Charles Monroe lead the Board of Directors in developing Bylaws, House Rules and an administrative structure required to authenticate the membership procedures and provide an efficiently running mechanism. Eventually, pressure of public play on the course caused the Club to look to expand and relocate again.
The Vision Broadens
In the early 1960’s, George and Everette Williams had “retired” to a large tract of land they had purchased in the Gunbarrel Hill area east of the City. Developers of more than 1,000 homes in the Boulder vicinity, they had built the Panorama Hill, Martin Acres, Park East, Williams Village Shopping Center and several buildings on the Colorado University campus. In 1962, Boulder City Manager, Bob Turner approached the Williams Brothers with a proposition. The City’s growth was being envisioned along the lines of a spoke of a wheel. These spokes aligned along Arapahoe Road, as well as the Longmont Diagonal where the Williams Brothers owned large tracts of land. At the time, the City shared the golf course on Arapahoe Road with the Boulder Country Club. The golf course suffered from overplay, and the Clubhouse facilities could not easily be expanded to accommodate the needs of both the City and the Country Club. Turner suggested the Williams Brothers consider developing a golf course for the City on the land surrounding their homes on Gunbarrel Hill. After further deliberations, the Williams Brothers became convinced that the costs of building a golf course could be recovered if the lands around it were to be used for residential building sites. Then only the ongoing costs of operation would be subsidized. The City offered to provide the water and sewer service to the Gunbarrel area. A plan was created to develop the golf course and residential community. Together with Bob Turner, the Williams Brothers approached the Country Club members to persuade them to move to Gunbarrel Hill. The City would retain the Arapahoe Road golf course, complete and operational, for its own use. The Williams Brothers donated the land, water rights and money to build a Clubhouse. The Boulder Country Club would own and operate the golf course. The homes developed in the area would encompass a diversity of economic levels and housing types.
In 1962 construction of the present golf course designed by Press Maxwell began. 27 holes of golf were created, incorporating an 18-hole championship course and a separate 9-hole Par-3 course. The courses opened for play in 1963. The Clubhouse, designed by Hoby Wagner was opened in 1965. The efforts of the members became devoted toward landscaping the courses and establishing a comfortable ambiance in the Clubhouse for the enjoyment of the expanding membership. Four outdoor tennis courts, an Olympic size pool, kiddy pool and cabanas completed the amenities offered to the membership.
Two years after Gunbarrel Green was started in March of 1965, IBM announced its intention to build in Boulder on a 640 acre site near Niwot. Additional corporations were attracted to the sites designed for industrial development, which were surrounded by the residences being developed by the Williams Brothers.
As interest in Club membership grew, the concept of capping the membership to a specified number of members became required. It was determined three active classifications of membership were appropriate. Full Golf members were entitled to use of all amenities of the Club. This level of membership was capped at 500. Since the Club enjoyed 27 holes of golf, separating a Par 3 membership for members only desiring to use that course seemed appropriate. That classification was capped at 85 members. A Social classification, which did not utilize the golf amenities, was capped at 200 memberships. Separate initiation fees and dues structures were developed for application to each classification of membership.
In 1985, after 20 years of constant use, the Board of Directors thought it appropriate to expand the amenities offered to the membership and renovate the Clubhouse. In 1987, an indoor Facility was opened which houses 3 indoor tennis courts, a lap pool and a cardiovascular and weight room. The financing of this construction and renovation was provided through equity memberships offered to the current members. The success of building the indoor facility was far greater than any of the members expected and in 2008 they decided to build upon that success and renovate the building to include a separate cardiovascular room, weight room and group exercise studio. Embracing the healthy lifestyle of so many Boulder residents, Boulder Country Club began offering complimentary exercise classes, personal training, Pilates instruction, massage therapy and recently physical therapy services.