Burlington Country Club
|Golf Professional||Michael Mack||(609) 267-1887|
|General Manager||Michael Mack||(609) 267-1887|
|Superintendent||Brian Minemier||(609) 267-7641|
|Tee Sheet||Front 9||Back 9||Course|
In mid-1929, within months of the stock market crash and thus on the eve of the Depression, a group of men from Mt. Holly and neighboring towns who had a yen to play golf on their own course, banded together to form the Burlington County Country Club. The first thing needed was money to buy suitable land. Bonds in the amount of $1,000 were issued. Thirty-one people each bought a bond, and the club moved immediately to acquire the Burrs Woods property, two miles from Mt. Holly. Charles Coles, of Mt. Holly, was elected president of the new club. Filling the vice-presidential post was W.C. Jones, of Burlington. William A. Stringfellow, Mt. Holly, was named secretary.
At the beginning, only two types of memberships were offered. Those in a position to hand over $1,000 could buy a bond entitling them to all club privileges, a dues-free lifetime membership, and no initiation fee. Moreover, the next generation would inherit it all. On the other hand, a new member could choose to buy a share of stock for $100 and pay a $150 initiation fee and $150 yearly dues. Somehow, resolutely limping along through the hard times, Burlington County stayed solvent.
One annual fund-raising project in the early years was the horse show sponsored by the club and held at the English Setter Club, near Medford. The revenues came from selling hot dogs and cold drinks as well as from such take-out dishes as homemade pies and jellies. Dances, to the tunes of a three-piece combo, were a regular feature on the clubhouse veranda (the concrete floor was a little hard on the feet) during the summer months. In the winter there were often sledding parties on the course’s rolling terrain, with hot cocoa afterwards.
A nine-hole course, laid out by the John Finley Golf Construction Company, of Philadelphia, opened for play in 1930. A year later, the second nine was added. The unwatered fairways regularly burned out under the hot summer sun, but the greens, syringed by hand, if necessary, under the careful supervision of John Plant, the club’s first greenkeeper, were always excellent putting surfaces. Two or three of the club’s oldest members affectionately recall Mrs. Plant’s lemonade, which she sold for 5¢ a glass.
In 1934, with membership dropping, annual dues for a family were reduced from $90 to $60. The individual male dues, formerly $75, were cut to $50. In the depths of the Depression, membership numbered about 130.
A simple farmhouse served as the clubhouse at the outset, and a number of members employed their mechanical skills—carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and the like—to convert the basement into a “rathskeller.” The first time alcoholic beverages were consumed on the premises was when a member gave the steward $5 to go out and buy a case of beer. It sold in no time. A second case was promptly purchased with the profit produced by the individual bottle sales from the first case—all this without a liquor license. It was obvious that a license was essential, so steps were taken to get one. The arrival of the license, however, prompted the departure of the president. Charles Coles, who strongly opposed spirits in any form, felt compelled in principle to resign. He was succeeded by Pliver M. Thornton, who served until the early Forties.
Over the years, the clubhouse would be expanded and remodeled extensively, beginning in the early Thirties, when a men’s locker room was added. This was built with a flat roof to accommodate a second story. Sixty years later, in 1993, that kind of visionary thinking would finally pay off, when an addition above the locker room was indeed constructed.
The first golf shop at Burlington County may well have been unique. When in the Thirties the Mt. Holly Water Company decided to build a new headquarters, it gave its old office building to the country club. Arthur C. Cross, Sr., then president of the water company and a club member, saw to it that the simple structure was hauled from town out to the club, where it was put right to work as the pro shop for Bill Miller, Burlington’s first professional.