Trenton Country Club
|Golf Professional||Graham Dendler||(609) 883-3566|
|Architect||James H. Norton|
|Tee Sheet||Front 9||Back 9||Course|
In the latter half of October, 1897, New Jersey’s capital got its first country club. Judge Bennett Van Syckel, a justice of the state’s Supreme Court, had become interested in golf by driving balls up and down the beach in front of his summer home at Mantaloking, and it was he who proposed the formation of Trenton Country Club. The first officers were Frank O. Briggs, president; Hugh H. Hamill, vice president; Charles S. Van Syckel (the judge’s son), secretary; and Henry W. Green, treasurer. The other founding members were Stephen W. Blackwell, S. Meredith Dickinson, John H. Janeway, Hughes Oliphant, Karl G. Roebling, and, of course, Justice Van Syckel.
The question of a suitable location for the clubhouse, golf course, and other recreational activities was easily answered. The estate of the late Colonel A. Dickinson Woodruff, who had left no heirs, was available, and the new club acted promptly to lease it for a period of five years at an annual rental of $500. The lease contained an option to purchase the property for $250 an acre; several years later the club exercised this option at a cost of $24,675.
Situated at the western end of the city, “Oaklands,” as the Woodruff estate was called, consisted of the stately manor house and 99 acres. The club formally opened on March 25,1898. There were already several golf holes in play, and by 1901 the members were enjoying a full nine. Early in 1914, 11.7 acres were acquired from the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, and subsequently a second nine was built.
Other sporting activities came along over the years that followed—horseback riding in 1928, tennis in 1931, swimming in 1935, skeet shooting in 1956. But golf would continue to be the club’s principal activity.
The rolling terrain lent itself to the construction of varied and testing golf holes. Boundaries, sand, water (canal, creek, pond) and the omnipresent huge old oaks (this is, after all, “Oaklands”) frequently directing the line of play—all put pressure on the swing.
Jimmy Norton served the club during the early part of the century as its first professional. In 1941 George Milne would take over the golf shop and remain in charge until 1972, to be named professional emeritus and be succeeded by his son, Dennis. The Milnes would become an integral part of the golf heritage at Trenton Country Club.
The 19th-century manor house, “Woodlands,” that is the heart of Trenton’s clubhouse.