Interviewed June 9, 1977
Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
Click here for audio in .mp3 format
Golf started here when someone from this area went to England
or Scotland and was introduced to the game. One of the leading
lights at that time in Concord as far as golf was concerned was
Moses Bradford, who was the Club's first president. The first
club in Concord was opened in 1895 in an area now known as the
musterfield which is partly in back of Nashawtuc Hill.
Past Presidents of the Concord Country Club include Mr. Herbert Hosmer, Mr. Charles Edgarton, Mr. Henry Kidder, Mr. Charles B. Johnson, Mr. Arthur Brooks and down to the present time of Mr. Tyson and Mr. Everett Parker.
In 1914 the Club purchased the John Brown farm and laid out the first nine holes. The architect was Donald Ross who became the leading course architect for many years in this country. The second nine was started in 1929 and opened in 1930. Again Donald Ross as architect. A great deal of the work was supervised by a former president's son known as Bebe Hosmer and when the second nine was officially opened Bebe's father was picked to strike the first ball.
It might be of interest to remind some of the people who will perhaps listen to this taping to know some of the families involved with the original golf. We'll name a few and hope that other people will not feel left out, because I cannot remember all of these as they were. But we can say that the Hosmers, the Barretts, the C. Hayden Whitneys, the Herbert Townsends, the Alcott Pratts, George Keyes, the Buttricks, the Edgartons, the Lockwoods, the Fessendens. Incidentally, one of the original members, Miss Grace Keyes was one of the early women's champions of the state. I believe that tournament was played at the Brae Burn Country Club. Miss Keyes won the championship early in 1905 or 1906. We would have better records if we had the cup here but we don't.
The record that people talk about a lot is the inception of clubs around the country. And a few years back I happened to see some pictures that were taken at Bellreaves where they have a large plaque of the beginning clubs in this country and the Concord Golf Club, which was it's original name and since changed to the Concord Country Club, was either number 15 or 16 on that plaque. As all things from a very modest beginning, the Club had only nine holes and a great many things have changed since that time.
As an example of Yankee ingenuity the original farmhouse which was situated in the area of the present clubhouse, is now a part of the Emerson Hospital's nurses home. That was moved from its original area by the local builder and mover, Mr. Edward A. Comeau. This all was accomplished with horses, teams, and manpower.
From a modest beginning of nine holes and one tennis court to its present eighteen holes, six tennis courts, and a large family swimming pool with all facilities it occupies approximately 200 acres and is bounded by a substantial acreage of Herbert Hosmer land which is now in conservation trust. The conservation trust land borders a part of the golf course around the fifth hole and does go from that part of the golf course to the adjoining of Mattison land and also out to the road which is Old Road to Nine Acre Corner.
The golf clubs themselves have changed a tremendous amount. To make comparison to golfers today where we take records made by Bobby Jones who did play some golf at the Concord Country Club when he was at Harvard. In those days the clubs were all wooden shafted and when it rained, the action of the golf club changed consid- erably but Bobby Jones in his expertise was able to overcome this and still make records around all parts of the country. The golf clubs themselves used to have names and not numbers like the present are. We had names for each and every one of the golf clubs, we had a driver, a spoon, a baffy, a cleek, which would be equivalent today to a driving iron, a midmashie, a mashie niblick, a niblick, and a putter. We also had speciality clubs as they do today such as a track iron, which I doubt if very many people would understand without an explanation of it. In the beginning of golf, of course, all the fairways were cut with horse-drawn vehicles and very narrow wheeled which would leave indentations in the earth so a track iron was made of which I believe there are a few still in existence. I know I have one. It was made to fit into the groove on the ground and make it so that the golfer could move his ball from that particular position.
In those days there weren't as many rules for relief as there are today. In the old days you hit your golf ball into a certain area it was up to you and your ability to remove it from there. In the original golf course back of Nashawtuc Hill the average obstacle or hazard, as we would use for a saying, is not a sand trap but in most instances were stonewalls which designated certain areas perhaps of ownership by different people. These were the things you had to contend with in those days plus not a lush, curried down fairway where you can use a driver off of it.
There were caddies in the early days. The golfer made his or her golf tees. For each and every tee there was a tee box which contained a quantity of a composition of top soil and sand which the golfer could form into a mound and place his ball on in the same height as he might do today with the wooden tee. Wooden tees came into popularity in the early 1930s along with many other things that added to the game such as the caddy cart to take the place of the caddy. To my mind, of course, the loss of the caddy in many instances has taken a great deal out of the game and for all things, the main thing was the association with a youngster who was just beginning.
The average private club is a different animal than the so- called municipal golf courses of today. The municipal golf courses have been brought about by the great demand of golfers in all walks of life and they are primarily wide open with little or no hazards, as the fellow would say, to expedite the time a round of golf would be played and bring it so that the municipal course can accommodate more people then the average private club. In most years the private club will be the scene of open championship which is one of the toughest tournaments to ever win. In its beginning the open championship would maybe draw a field of twenty golfers. Today the golfers that have become expertise enough to qualify or get into it now numbers up into the thousands. So we have loads of qualifying areas countrywide. To go back though to the golf courses as laid out, one of the first open championships that made a great deal of change in the game of golf took place in 1913 at the Brookline Country Club, where a young man by the name of Francis Oiumet startled the golf world by defeating in a playoff two of the elder statesmen of golf in Great Britain, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. As far as the three were concerned Francis Ouimet was not getting much chance to win in this playoff but he did astound the world by winning that playoff with a 72 for the eighteen holes. Fifty years later the same open championship was played at the Brookline Country Club and the winning scores that year was 294 strokes for 72 holes of mettle play. The golf course was not thought to be tough enough for the present crop of professionals but they found out very early in the game that the golf course was a little bit better than the golfer at the time. That tournament was held on the golden anniversary of Mr. Ouimet's winning at Brookline.
Only from legend and not having anything but that to go by, there was a gentleman in the old country whether an earl or otherwise I do not know, I do have a print of this gentlemen and it is quite noticeable that his caddy in frock coat had a bottle of liquor. According to the number of holes played and the consumption of the liquor, it usually was eighteen holes and whether truthful or otherwise this seems to be the content of why eighteen holes on a course.
I think I would go back to one of the old settlers, as we would use the word, Mr. Bebe Hosmer as he was known by most everyone. It does bring out the total independence of people at that time. I do remember Mr. Hosmer bringing to the Concord Country Club one evening Mr. & Mrs. Henry Ford for dinner. At that time Mr. Ford was involved in the restoration of the Wayside Inn which is quite a showplace for memorabilia of those times. Mr. Hosmer did come to the club that night in tuxedo as would be the proper thing with the entertainment of a person of Mr. Ford's stature and Mr. Ford, of course, was in evening clothes. I happened to be on our putting green which is at the very front of the clubhouse and Mr. Hosmer stopped and called over to me and said "Harold, you know I got the stuffed shirt on but take a look at this!" And he put his foot up on the railing and he had mocassins on that I would say were about as old as he was but he said, "If I can't have comfort one way, I'm going to have it on my feet."