Although golf had many beginnings, in the United States going back a full two hundred years from the present, roots never really took hold until the late 1880's when the Apple Tree Gang founded the Saint Andrews Golf Course in Yonkers, N.Y. Although the site has been moved many times, the club still exists and golf has continued.
Seven years passed before golf arrived in Great Barrington. Will Wight, spending the summer at Hamilton Grange, the estate of his in-laws, the William E. Teffts of Great Barrington, had just returned from Scotland where he had been stricken with the golf craze.
His golf talk soon interested a few younger members of the local gentry. Thus, in the summer of 1894, they went to Colonel William Brown's pasture and with Brown's permission put three vegetable cans in the ground for cups. The following summer six cans were used.
It was during the early months of 1896 that one of Wight's companions, Ben Ticknor, decided that a golfing club was needed in Great Barrington. A letter to Colonel Brown was favorably answered, and the land would be loaned by the Colonel provided his cows would not be disturbed. Shares were soon offered at the cost of ten dollars each and letters sent to prospective members. A portion of that letter reads as follows:
"The advantages of the location are numerous: easily accessible by bicycle, walking or carriage. Arrangements are being made with Mr. Roys for a place to leave horses. The golf links will be put in good condition. Arrangements will be made for clay pigeon shooting, archery, tennis, etc. The house will be a pleasant place of resort for players or visitors at all times, with its charming outlook and spacious piazzas. A competent man will be engaged to care for the house and grounds."
The letter was signed by L.L. Jenkins, W.S. Hollister, C.M. Gibbs, B.D. Ticknor and J.L.E. Pell.
The response was immediate and an organizational meeting was held at the Berkshire Inn. By-Laws were drawn up and officers were elected with Col. W.L. Brown as the first President of the Locustwood Golf Club, forerunner of Wyantenuck Country Club.
The summer of 1896 saw the construction of the first clubhouse, a hexagonal building with fifty feet of piazza facing south and west on the southerly side of Maple Avenue with a hardwood floor, dressing rooms, and golf lockers - at a cost of six hundred dollars.
The Colonel's cows had little respect for the greens, forcing the club to ring the greens with a wire fence to insure even minimal putting surface.
These same cows were the cause of moving the Locustwood Club to a new location in 1899. Either the cows would have forage, or the golfers able to play. But not both. Thus, in August 1899, the newly constructed clubhouse was moved to a new location on Brookside Road, where it still stands today as a private home.
The course was expanded to nine holes on the banks of the Housatonic River with each hole named to strike fear into the golfer's heart. "Bliss", "The Narrows", "Wilderness", "River Bank" and "The Styx" offer the uncharitable clubhouse gallery the chance to observe fellow golfer's misfortunes.
After changing the name of the Club to Wyantenuck, the name the Mohegan Indians gave to the Housatonic River below the Club, the Club flourished. Such interest allowed the engagement of the first Golf Professional, Albert Mundo. The first golfer of national note to be a member of Wyantenuck was George L. Stanley, who later became an Intercollegiate Golf Champion in the United States.
Remaining at Brookside until 1914, the Club was ably served by John H.C. Church who would be President for a total of twenty three years and by Charles M. Gibbs, serving as Treasurer for twenty one.
At Brookside, the Club built its first tennis courts, first one then two additional. It is recorded that Saturday and Sunday matches between the club players were always well attended.
It was at the Wyantenuck Golf Club course that the first Men's Invitational golf tournament was held in 1903. A tournament which has been carried forward until today, with the exception of war years.
1915 saw the final move of the Club to its present location on the West Sheffield Road in Great Barrington. Steered by John H.C. Church, the Club joined the growing number of golf courses expanding to eighteen holes, and a longer eighteen holes. This was due basically to the improvement in the equipment and the expanding distance of the new golf balls. The horse barn of the Baldwin Farm made and still makes a unique home for Wyantenuck members. With some land swapping with neighbors, enough land was attained to allow Robert Pryde of New Haven, Connecticut to build a championship golf course with splendid views. J. McArthur Vance, architect and golfer, was retained to convert the barn into the clubhouse we know today.
Various changes have been made to the course in the ensuing seventy five years, the major ones being to the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth holes by Architect, Charles H. Banks about 1929.
The Club survived the two World Wars, but not without victory gardens planted in the rough to the right of the first fairway, and not without members doing the greens cutting, grass cutting, and raking the bunkers.
A short narrative such as this would not be complete without further noting some of the people who made the Wyantenuck idea flourish. Members such as John H.C. Church and C. Bernard Shea, Perennial Presidents; C.M. Gibbs, Secretary for over twenty years; James D. Hickey, Perennial Vice-President; Robert H. Kinne, Treasurer for over twenty years and William H. King, always attendant to the Greens Committee and its needs. These as well as a myriad of others who selflessly gave their time have made our Club possible.
Also to be noted are Clement J. Rafferty, Golf Professional for forty five years, Steward Mauzell Hawkins servicing members for as long, and Greens Superintendent Ernie Faucher, keeper of the greens for thirty years, all dedicated and faithful believers in their Club.
The golfing craze in Great Barrington began in 1896, when Wyantenuck Country Club (formerly Locustwood Golf Club) developed a 9 hole course. In 1914, the course was relocated, expanded and developed into the beautiful 18 hole golf course of today.
The golfing green features a beautifully landscaped course surrounded with flowers, mountain views, wildlife & rivers. Surviving wars, depression and financial hardships, Wyantenuck continues offering the ever growing & active membership a spectacular golfing facility!
Tennis began at Wyantenuck Country Club at Brookside in 1903 with 2 tennis courts and a third added in 1910. Wyantenuck converted their 3 tennis courts into clay courts in 1926. Due to the high demand of tennis, 2 additional courts were added years later.
Tennis continues to thrive at Wyantenuck Country Club. Members enjoy playing & watching the daily activities and tournaments. Challenging tournaments & matches provide tennis players with vigorous enjoyment!
With the big move in 1914 came the new clubhouse. Baldwin’s Horse Barn with some architectural redesigning by J. McArthur was converted to and still remains as Wyantenuck’s clubhouse.
The unique cathedral ceilings and interior of the clubhouse remain a 19th century structure with a twenty-first century utilization. Luncheons, dinners, cocktails, social activities & conversations fill the clubhouse with laughter & pleasure!
In 1958, a swimming pool and bathhouse were built adjacent to the Clubhouse. The pool with its brilliant blue color services members wishing to lounge in the sun and take a refreshing dip on a hot summer day!
Some minor additions & repairs to the piping & bathhouse have been completed over the years. The Pool facility continues to provide members & guests with a refreshing & relaxing atmosphere!