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This is one of America's great golf and country clubs.  The beautifully wooded two hundred and nineteen acres, rambling Old-English style clubhouse and two 18-hole golf courses are a standing tribute to the prominent group of forward thinking Detroiters who formed the Club over one hundred years ago, in 1899.

HISTORY

From the 1899 founder to the present administration, they've all left their mark. Even the Indians who traveled our beautiful acres left a remembrance; a trail marker tree which they bent as a sapling to point the way to Saginaw. This tree still stands between the 7th and 8th Fairways on the North Course.

Founded by William R. Farrand and several friends, membership was originally limited to 100. Each Member was entitled to one share of stock worth $10. Both initiation fee and annual dues were $10. Forty-five acres of farmland at Woodward and Six Mile Road were rented and a 6-Hole layout was created. A farmer across the road rented a room to be used as a Locker and Club Storage Room.

The first Club was built in 1900 at a cost of $1,200. Joe Schlotman was hired as Club Manager and Teaching Professional. Three holes were added, making it a 9-Hole Course. The Gutta Percha ball was still being played, and a canvas golf bag cost fifty cents.


In 1902, membership was raised to 200. Initiation fees and dues went to $20 each. One hundred and thirty-five acres were obtained at Six Mile and Hamilton to develop a 6,212 yard, 18-Hole Course, and a new Clubhouse was built on a knoll where our present #12 Green North is located. The Club was formally opened in 1906. To relieve debt pressure, fifty Life Memberships with no annual dues were sold for $250 each. Annual dues were increased to $35.

Additional property was bought in 1913 for $350,000. World-famed Golf Architect, Donald Ross, was asked to survey the property, which determined that two 18-Hole Courses could be built on the land after 149 building lots were plotted. Work began in 1914. Horace Rackham paid $100,000 for the Club's optioned properties and gave them to DGC at cost. He also loaned an additional large sum until the project could get underway, refusing any interest on the loan. All Members who purchased lots became Class "A" Members although any Member who paid $250 became a Class "A" Member. By the end of May 1915, one hundred and forty-four lots had been sold.

The big decision of 1916 was to build a new Clubhouse, which was designed by Albert Kahn. Wartime problems hampered construction, but the Clubhouse was finally completed in May 1918. Alex Ross, brother of Donald Ross, became Club Professional, a position he held for thirty-one years. Membership was increased to 650 in 1922, and it was decided to keep the Club open year round. Thursday night buffets cost $1.25. In 1928, Fred Wardell's offer to build a Caddy House was accepted. It cost $40,000 and opened in 1929.

During the Great Depression, the Clubhouse closed for a while. Dues were cut to $150 per year, and the number of employees was reduced to twenty-nine. Horace Rackham contributed $21,000 toward the cost of a fairway watering system. A swimming pool was constructed.

Gas rationing limited Club activities during World War II. Alex Ross retired as Pro in 1945. The great golf star, Horton Smith, was hired as Professional following his discharge from the Army Air Force. In 1948, he shot the North Course record of 29-33. He served as National President of the PGA of America for three years. In 1959, he was elected into the PGA Hall of Fame and honored at a DGC dinner attended by Bobby Jones.

The next decades saw many changes at DGC. Clem Wolfrom, our treasured Greens Superintendent was hired in 1962. Horton Smith died in 1963, and Walter Burkemo became Club Professional. An electric cart garage, tennis courts and the Crystal Dining Room were added. Walter Burkemo was succeeded by George Bayer, who was followed by Pro Jim Vaughn, who was followed by Pro John Traub and the current Pro is Jon Gates.


-Compiled by Marian Benton, DGC Member.