Ames Golf and Country Club

Ames Daily Tribune, March 30, 1911

The country club enthusiasts held another meeting Monday evening.  The articles of incorporation were read and discussed but owing to the fact that the required number of names has not been secured yet no definite action was taken in the matter.


Ames Daily Tribune, April 11, 1912

The Golf and Country club held a meeting at M.K. Smith's office Tuesday evening.  A committee was appointed to arrange for opening day at the grounds, which will be near the first of May, when a big time is being arranged for.  The plumbing is being put in the club house now by E.C. Wonderlich, gas will be installed at once, and the electric light committee is at work on the lighting system.  The members look forward to a great summer for the club.


Ames Daily Tribune, October 7, 1914

The annual meeting of the Ames Golf and Country club was held in the club house Monday evening.  Following the dinner a business meeting was called for the elections of directors for the ensuing year.  The following men were chosen to act on the board: E. W. Valentine, Dr. D.M. Ghrist, E.H. Graves, C.E. Caine, Dr. E.B. Bush, T.W. Manning, C.F. Curtiss, Dr. C.M. Proctor and R. E. Nichol.  The directors completed their organization by the election of the following officers - President, R. E. Nichol; secretary, C.E. Caine and treasurer, T.W. Manning.

History of the Ames Golf and Country Club

Ames Daily Tribune, 1937

It may seem like a far cry from the infant Ames Golf and Country club of 25 years ago to this same club today - prosperous and growing - but were it not for the splendid spirit that fostered the club back in 1911 this organization would not be here today.  Thru the hard times during and after the World war and during the last depression, the spirit of the pioneers of the club who took up shovels to dig the basement for the club house carried the club through dark and gloomy times.

The Ames Golf and Country club was organized in 1911 for the purpose of furnishing a means of recreation, entertainment and social good times.  Judge C.G. Lee was one of the men who was largely instrumental in organizing the club.  He called a meeting of a group of men whom he thought might be interested in the project.  This group was enthused with the idea and chose a committee to find a good location for the proposed club.  The men selected a beautiful, rolling, wooded portion of land south of the Iowa State college campus - the pride of Dan MacCarthy, Story county farmer and Judge Lee's father-in-law.  One of the main advantages of this plot was its location.  It was situated next to the interurban tracks on which the cars ran every hour, so it was possible for those who had no horse or buggy to get out to the club at any time.

The procedure which the committee followed in making the purchase of this desirable plot is an interesting story.  Judge Lee was hesitant in asking his father-in-law to part with this prize land so he asked his friend, Judge J.F. Luke, to negotiate for the property.  Judge Luke drew up a deed calling for the purchase of 54 acres of McCarthy's land at $200 an acre.  The deed specified that $1000 was to be paid at the time of the purchase and the balance to be paid within 10 years.  As Judge Luke knew it would be difficult to get McCarthy to sell the land, he put the deed in his safe until the time was ripe to present the offer.  This time came when McCarthy came into the office the day after having sold some hogs at a very favorable price.  McCarthy signed the deed before he left the office and the city men were assured of a place for their club.

With the land theirs, the next step the men took was planning the club house.  They decided to make the building so it would be suitable for rental to college organizations who desired to hold social gatherings there.  For many years they garnered considerable revenue from this source because the college had no other facilities for holding large social gatherings.

The club members, about 15 at that time, turned out 100 percent to dig the basement for the club house.  With nothing but man power and hand tools, the men dug the excavation while the women stood by to prepare their meals.  One of these charter members recalls that all of the men had wrenched backs and several of them actually were forced to spend several days in bed recuperating.  The building was completed in 1911 by U.S. Griffiths, a local man.

Several years after the club house was built, it was enlarged.  A south and west addition, planned by Professor A.H. Kimball, was built and the course was enlarged by the addition of another 20-acre tract of land purchased from McCarthy.  Stock was issued to cover the cost of these improvements.

Judge Luke was chosen as the first president by the board of directors because of his fine work in arranging for the original purchase of land.  A. MacMurray was vice president, H.L. Griffith was elected to the office of first secretary and Milo Manning was chosen treasurer.  Mr. Manning, or Milo as he is commonly known acted as secretary and treasurer thruout the years until 1925.  To him the community is indebted for the progress and development of the organization which is considered a civic asset and a place of beauty and recreation.  Had it not been for those pioneers, Luke, Manning, Lee, S.W. Beyer, A.H. Munn and all the rest, the Ames Golf and Country club would not have been possible.  The original board of directors consisted of the following well-known persons in the community: A.H. Munn, who is still active in the club and is a life member, C.F. Curtiss, S.W. Beyer, J.Y. Luke, A. MacMurray, H.L. Griffith, M.A. Manning, J.G. Tilden, C.G. Lee who is still active and a member of the present board and M.K. Smith.

From data that is available these citizens and members served as presidents during the past 26 years: J.Y. Luke, 1911; Frank Schleither, 1921; A.H. Munn, 1922, 1923; John L. Powers sr., 1923-1924; John I. Nelson, 1926; Charles Dragoun, 1927; John A. Wilkinson, 1928; Walter Jameson, 1929; Dr. Earl Rice, 1930; Hiram Munn, 1931; Arthur Pose, 1932, 1933, 1934; Frank Mann, 1935; W.F. Coover, 1936, 1937.

The early history of the club has been destroyed but constructing from the memories of some of the old members, a list of charter members would read something like this: George Hultz, E.W. Valentine, A.H. Munn, Jack Watson, F.E. King, Judge C.G. Lee, Dr. T.L. Rice, Dr. Earl Rice, Galen Tilden, Elmer Sowers, Dr. C.M. Proctor, Dean C.F. Curtiss, Dr. David Ghrist, Dr. E.B. Bush, Judge J.Y. Luke, Milo Manning, Dean S.W. Beyer, L.C. Tilden, and A.B. Maxwell.

The organization committee decided on a membership fee of $10, and the membership of the club was limited to admit only those who came up to certain fixed standards and who met with the approval of the board of directors.  The golf course, which most of the members wanted but know little about, was finally planned by Galen Tilden and practically all of the labor was done by the members of the club.  Judge Luke did not like golf, tho, so he began the construction of a tennis court.  One day when he was hard at work on the court, a group of friends forced him to join them in a round of golf.  As a result of this game Judge Luke became a rabid golf addict and the tennis court was never completed.  Among the early golfers who were consistent winners were the Tilden boys, John Nelson and Verna Bowman.  Several of the oldtimers say that they had good golfers then, tho they probably would not compare with the present day champions of the club.

In its early days the club kept open from May 15 to Nov. 1.  This is in contrast to the present time when there is activity at the club at all times of the year.  Very popular in the early days of the club were the Thursday evening dinners at the club.  The entire family would walk, go by horse or buggy or board the interurban to get to the club house.  It was necessary for those who walked or drove teams to take lanterns for often the parties did not adjourn until 11 p.m.  The people who brot horses would unhitch them and put them in the barn or, if they were willing to risk the wrath of Dan McCarthy they would tie the horses to a tree.  An early article in the bylaws prohibited the hitching of horses to a tree and neither was it permitted to park buggies across the path leading to the interurban tracks.

The Thursday dinners were prepared by the women of the club until the new addition to the club house was built and a cook was hired to prepare their weekly dinners in 1918.  Dancing was the favorite means of recreation after dinner.  The members would dance to a phonograph or to music furnished by some of the older men.  Square dances to the tune of a couple of fiddlers were the rage at this time.  Some of the men would play horse shoes until dark and then come inside for a game of cards.  The children amused themselves by playing "hide and seek" or cop and robber.

Depression came during the war days [WWI].  Members dropped out or could not pay their dues but the spirit that fostered the club prevailed and the club continued to function.  The decade following was most prosperous with improvements and expansion evident but in its wake came another depression and a drop in membership dues and spirit.  The low ebb came at the close of 1934 when it seemed an impossible task to clean up the business affairs of the club.  Many plans were suggested but to no avail, and as a last resort the board voted to make an effort to keep the club going until July 1, 1935 if possible.  Circumstances, however were favorable and favorable adjustments were made.  Now, Hugo Otopalik, secretary, feels that the club is in the best financial state that it has been in its entire history.  The membership in the club now stands at 150 families.

The program of the club today is much more fully-rounded than that of the original members tho it is doubtful if the spirit of the present members would compare with that of the pioneers of the club.  A year round program in which the entire family is urged to participate is now on the Club's calendar.  There is golf for the men, women and the junior members.  At present there are facilities for croquet, table tennis, card playing and dancing the year round.  Just lately the members have taken to skiing and sledding.  Plans are now being made for the construction of a tennis court, and the members hope soon to have a swimming pool.

The club property consists of 75 acres, most of which is utilized for a a nine hole golf course and the greens are all piped for watering.  The club house was built at a cost of nearly $15,000 and the custodian's house cost $1,500.  Taking into consideration the various improvements for a golf course including the acreage, the property is estimated at between $35,000 and $40,000.

Popular events at the club are family picnics; women's day on Tuesdays when women play golf and have luncheons during the summer months; the club dinner and dancing parties on Thursday; band concert and fireworks displays on special occasions, in addition the club rents the facilities of the club house to fraternities, sororities and other organizations for social functions.

Present officers and board of directors are as follows; W.F. Coover, president; John Ames, vice president; Hugo Otopalik, secretary and treasurer; C.G. Lee, Frank Mann, Arthur Pose, Clark Tilden, Clay Stafford, Dan Faber, W.E. Cover, Hugo Otopalik and John Ames, board of directors.

Some of the interior of the Ames Golf and Country Club clubhouse is visible in photos of the 1958 Faculty Women's Club's Monte Carlo Night. and the Miss Ames Pageant.