Wyantenuck Country Club History
The Wyantenuck Country Club was founded in 1896. It has existed, over time, in three locations, and settled at its current site in 1912 when the then Baldwin Farm was purchased for the purpose of expanding the Club’s recreational and social offerings. This explains the Clubs most prominent landmark, the clubhouse (a ‘lightly’ converted horse barn) which was preserved by the club for its architectural heritage and converted into arguably one of the most unique and iconic clubhouses in golf.
Wyantenuck features a 6,500 yard parkland golf course which climbs up and down a hill side on the outward half and plays out and back, links style, on the inward nine. The golf course is known for its consistent and high level of conditioning championed by a long tenured greens staff.
Designed in 1913 by Robert Pryde, a noted course architect from New Haven, Connecticut, the original layout largely survives intact today, with notable changes put in place in the 1920s by Charles H. Banks, who while he is known for his golf architecture, was a former English instructor at the nearby Hotchkiss School. Banks’ alterations gave the course its signature hole, the 17th, with its bowl shaped green guarded by a pot bunker and an entrance which must thread up between two steep embankments on either side.
Luminaries who have played the course throughout its history include the likes of actor Sydney Greenstreet (The Maltese Falcon), baseball’s Babe Ruth, Boxers Gene Tunney and Rocky Graziano, President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State George Shultz. Golfers who took a turn include immortals Bobby Jones, Jesse Sweetser and Gene Sarazen.
The course and club have a long history in support of amateur golf and have hosted several championships of both women’s and men’s associations, the Massachusetts Golf Association, The New England Golf Association, the Massachusetts Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and qualifiers for the United States Golf Association at the individual and team level.
Wyantenuck has another standout feature, its red clay tennis courts. Players enjoy honing their slide techniques on these physically friendly clay courts. The tennis program has featured interclub play and tournaments since the club began.
Tennis too had its luminaries. Member Albert Spalding infused the tennis program with high level amateur competition in the 1920s thanks to his world fame as a violinist who happened to play tennis at Wyantenuck. Tennis personalities have provided clinics at the club where the courts are the centerpiece of a rich respect for the game and its pursuit.
Recently, the Tennis program has added croquet as an additional fun diversion for members. In an example of the thrift that has always been at the center of the club, the croquet matches are played on the golf course grass nursery between the 13th and 17th fairways!
Wyantenuck has a long and interesting history. Much of its early history was by virtue of its proximity to New York City and the influential business persons and families of means who helped form and develop the Club. It is now, largely a local club, but maintaining a mix of permanent and second home owner members who recreate on the grounds. In the current climate of “destination resorts” Wyantenuck continues to be a place where even the famous can quietly slip in and out for a pleasant round of golf or a game of tennis enjoying either sport at a finely conditioned facility in a bucolic setting.