Country Club celebrates 100 years!
Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. (Photo by Doug Hoke).
The Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, housed in an English Tudor-style clubhouse, has been the scene of formal receptions, debutante parties, lavish balls and wedding events for 100 years.
It’s the oldest golf and country club in Oklahoma City and is set on 142 acres at 7000 NW Grand Blvd. Since its founding in 1911, its members have included people who have played key roles in Oklahoma City’s history.
Members kicked off the 100th anniversary on Dec. 4t during a party, and they’ll continue their celebration next spring to commemorate the date the club was incorporated.
Surrounding the club’s fountain in the front yard are brick pavers etched with the names of families who have been members at the club and attended club functions through the years. Included are names of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are related to the original members who joined in 1911.
Today, there are 1,031 member families in various categories that include stockholding, social, senior, executive or junior memberships.
Board president Chuck Ainsworth noted that the club holds a unique place in Oklahoma City’s history.
“It is more than a country club,” he said. “The club has been a melting pot of the community. The leaders who shaped the town sometimes met on the golf course to conduct business.”
The friendships built through the club over the years represent a big part of people’s lives.
“There’s work, home and the country club,” Ainsworth said.
Eighty percent of club members live within three miles of the club, said Linda Dowling, executive assistant and membership secretary. Nineteen of the 160 full-time employees have worked there more than 20 years. The club also employs between 60 and 70 people part-time. Employees staff three kitchens, including separate grills and a banquet kitchen. In the summer, the swimming pool also offers food service.
Ainsworth pointed out several differences between today’s club and that of years past.
“In old photos of the club, there were millions of ashtrays, and today there are none,” he said. “And the wood paneling in the Great Hall was very dark. We took it back to the original look recently.”
Through the years, members have come to Sunday brunches, bridge parties, Easter egg hunts, banquets, dance clubs, president’s balls, Christmas parties, fashion shows and golf matches, said Oliver Boudin, the club’s chief operating officer, in talking about the history and tradition there.
The club also opens its doors for community events sponsored by area nonprofit organizations throughout the year.
New programs, old memories
Boudin noted that a wine program was started four years ago.
“We set up a Wine Society,” he said. “Members have lockers in a temperature-controlled room for their favorite wines, and we have monthly wine tastings and dinners paired with wines,” he said.
Another newer feature of the club began in 2002 with the construction of the fitness center.
As part of the club’s centennial, members Huston Huffman, Susan Parker and Marilyn Meade are combing through scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, archives and club records for a book project with local author Bob Burke.
“Burke’s coffee-table book will include pictures of the early days and also some pictures of this year’s members’ Christmas party,” said Huffman, organizer of the group.
Parker, also a country club board member, has been around the club for 55 years. She was there as a child and became a junior member 33 years ago.
“It’s such a part of my life,” she said. There have been family weddings, birthday parties, dances and everything social, she said. “Everyone, members and staff, knows your name over there.”
Another member who started going to the club in the 1940s is Meade. She has been attending functions there since she was a child.
“No one had private swimming pools for little children in those days,” Meade said. “So we all went to the club. I went to the pool in the morning and stayed the entire day. When I won blue ribbons in swim meets, I got steak dinners (for) prizes, so I took my family to dinner with my winnings.”
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