“A few timely comments from Mr. Wm. M. Rice,” 1938

I was looking for something in the Woodson vault the other day, and I mean I was really looking, trying to find something specific that wasn’t in any obvious place. I was looking so intently that I wedged myself into the back corner and got down on my hands and knees.  I was quite surprised when I peered into the dimness and saw this:

Yes, that’s a golf club and a it’s very old one.

The tag tied to the hickory shaft, in Miss Turnbull’s handwriting:

My mind reeled. I spent several minutes trying to conjure up any scenario in which William Marsh Rice would have golfed. I failed completely. I know a lot about William Marsh Rice and this is simply unimaginable. Never happened. Then I realized that the Houston Country Club didn’t even exist until 1908, at which point he’d already been dead for eight years.

So this must be Will Rice’s club, right?

And indeed a check of the 1938 anniversary booklet from the club reveals that not only was Will Rice a charter member he was also the first president. His member number, by the way, was 1.

Here’s what he had to say on this occasion, including an interesting reference to some real estate owned by the Rice Institute in 1903. I might be able to figure out precisely where it was:

Bonus:

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8 Responses to “A few timely comments from Mr. Wm. M. Rice,” 1938

  1. Bob Swanson says:

    In the library you will find at least three books on the HCC, compiled on the fiftieth, seventy-fifth, and hundredth anniversaries of the founding. One of those will probably tell you where the nine hole course was.

  2. Richard Schafer says:

    According to a posting on the houstonarchitecture.com “old golf courses” page, the first Houston Country Club course was on “Dallas, then San Felipe Road.” The Houston Parks webpage mentions that George Kessler in 1914 made plans for a “South Texas Permanent Exposition” on a 70 acre tract west of Sam Houston Park that “included portions of the W. R. Baker Addition, the Hardcastle Addition, and the golf links formerly owned by the Houston Golf Club and subsequently owned by the William Marsh Rice Institute.” I don’t see a golf course in a September 1910 map of Houston in that area, but a 1920 map does show an “exposition grounds” along that area, and on the west end is what looks like the “circuit track” that the Houston Parks webpage says was to surround the golf links, although that looks kind of small to me.

  3. Lou Ann Montana says:

    So very interesting, Melissa. Thank you!

  4. Carolyn Brewer says:

    I am amazed by all the women in the vehicles. I wonder if any were any women allowed to play the course.

  5. marmer01 says:

    From what I can tell, in 1904 the Houston Golf Club created a course “upon a 56-acre tract across the bayou from Glenwood Cemetery, (and are) easily accessible from the San Felipe street car line at the Jewish cemetery.” Soon afterward, they built a clubhouse on this property, designed by R.D. Steele. Then in 1908, the Houston Country Club superseded the Houston Golf Club and bought the tract on Harrisburg Road. All members of the Golf Club became members of the Country Club. They used the Golf Club clubhouse and links for about a year while the Harrisburg tract was being prepared. The big half-timbered clubhouse was designed by Fort Worth architects Sanguinet and Staats, who were prestige architects in Houston at the time. Several houses in Courtlandt Place and some early skyscrapers downtown were designed by that firm. It opened in late 1909. It looks like the reason for the change from Golf Club to Country Club was to offer more sports options besides golf, and also to have a much larger clubhouse for events.

  6. marmer01 says:

    And in 1957, when Houston Country Club decamped to Woodway, the name changed back, briefly, to Houston Golf Club. In 1958, the old clubhouse was remodeled and reopened as a dining and event venue called Houston Executive Club. Eventually the property wound up in the hands of Gus Wortham, who sold it to the city in 1968. The big clubhouse was torn down in 1974.

  7. marmer01 says:

    Actually, the sale to the city was in 1973.

  8. marmer01 says:

    On the Sanborn map of the area from 1925, there is a Golf Park and a Golf Links Place road. Basically, the course was north of W. Dallas where Gillette Street is now. Just west of the Allen Parkway Village site.

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