Edgartown Golf Club

History - 1926 to 2009
(from Club Records)

The Edgartown Golf Club was founded in 1926 by Cornelius S. Lee. The land
purchased for the course was known as the Capt. Chase Pease Farm, and was bought
from J. Fred Sayer for approximately eighteen thousand dollars. Mr. Lee paid for the land
and retained the title. The proceeds from the sale of the Founders shares built the original
holes. The arrangement was that the Club was to pay six hundred dollars a year rent plus
one hundred fifty dollars towards the taxes. Mr. Lee was very much impressed with the
layout at St. Andrews, and copied it as much as he could. No architect was used and the
only help he had was Bror Hogland, who was the first greens keeper. Bror said that the
only help that he had was Cyrus Norton, leading the horse hired from Orin Norton while
he ploughed the tees, fairways and greens. The first hole built was the sixth.

The original officers were William B. Dinsmore, President; Frederic F. Carey, Vice
President; Cornelius S. Lee, Treasurer and Philip Jeffrey Norton, Secretary. There were
thirty one Founders each of whom paid two hundred and fifty dollars for their Founders
share. The number thirty one caused a minor crisis as the bylaws limited the membership
to thirty. This was surmounted by a quick meeting of the Board which raised the limit
to fifty.

The Club officially opened on July 7, 1927. During the same year the club house
was erected. It was a Hodgson portable house and cost twelve hundred dollars. Until
1929 when the small office was built, a table in the ladies’ locker room was headquarters.
“Most inconvenient,” said Mrs. Martin, “and at times most embarrassing as the partition
between the locker rooms did not go all the way up to the roof.”

As time progressed more land was acquired to keep the growing number of golfers
from trespassing on neighbors’ property. Mr. Lee purchased a strip from Professor
Marcus Jernegan on the west side of the eighth hole, which is part of the fairway, and
all of the rough down by the green. Another acquisition by him was a piece from Walter
Blankenship along the seventh fairway. Players used to climb the fence and hunt for
balls in his vegetable garden. Old Walt and his wife were well versed in choice language
with loud voices; hence the purchase. When Blankenship died, Bror Hogland tried to
bid on the farm for the Club, but the heirs preferred to let Charles Lima have it. This is
the property that the Club bought some years ago from the Lima heirs, and is where the
well and pump house are located.

Around 1950, through the generosity of the owners of the Cow Bay Corporation,
the Club bought for a token payment all of the land between the Oak Bluffs Road, the
Lima property and the seventh hole. This was done with a thought in mind that maybe at
some time in the future additional holes would be advisable. In 1960 the Club exchanged
a useless piece of land to the East of the fourth hole, for several pieces that it could use
or had already been using such as that in front of the fifth tee. An interesting anecdote
as to the pitfalls encountered in land purchases, was that it developed after Mr. Lee had
bought the Chase Pease Farm that Orin Norton had a two year lease to graze his cows
on the land. This crisis was solved by paying him two hundred dollars a year to keep his
cows off the course. This was cheaper than fencing off the greens.

The very auspicious start of the Club was somewhat dimmed by the great depression
of 1929 when Mr. Lee said, “most of the Founders are stone broke.” In 1930 he wrote
to the Club’s two employees requesting them to take a 35% reduction in salaries so that
the Club could survive. They both acquiesced, which meant that Bror Hogland received
sixty-five dollars a month, and Mrs. Martin twenty-two dollars and ten cents a week.
The only other threat to the Club’s steady growth was the hurricane of 1944. This blew
the porch and the roof off the Clubhouse, and to make matters worse nobody could beobtained to repair the damage until the Spring. This necessitated storing all the lockers
and furnishings in the machinery shed all winter and the rebuilding of most of the house.
The porch was made of cement this time and is still very much with us.

In 1958 John Garrett and Robert Brown became concerned as to what was going
to happen to the property that the golf course was on if something should happen to Mr.
Lee. His reply was always that the land would go to Mrs. Lee who would always maintain
it as a golf course. This seemed far too uncertain a fate for the future of what was now a
thriving nine hole golf course, and a Club with over sixty Founder members, and almost
as many summer subscribers. It took two years of constant pleading before Mr. Lee finally
gave in and agreed to sell the property to the Club. The price was fifty thousand dollars,
one half in cash, and the other half a twenty year mortgage. There were two provisions
in the contract, the first was that if at anytime within twenty years the property ceased
to be used for a golf course it would revert to the Lee family. The second was that Mr.
and Mrs. Cornelius Lee were to have life tenure on the use of any and all roads on the
course. After considerable arguing and cajoling, all with one exception, of the Founder
members agreed to turn in their Founders Share plus three hundred and seventy-five
dollars in cash, in exchange for a five hundred dollar non-interest bearing thirty year note
due in 1991. The response actually was marvelous, and by December 1961 Mrs. West,
as assistant Treasurer, had written the largest check in the Club’s history to the order of
C.S. Lee. It is interesting to note here what happened to the mortgage. At the first Board
meeting after the reorganization, Mr. Lee, who was Chairman of the Greens Committee,
requested the purchase of a new greens mower. The President pointed out that the Club
was under a very heavy burden of expenses, due to the change over, and the fact that
it now had the interest on his mortgage to pay each year. The reply was typical, “well
XXX**XXX** it. I’ll give you the XXX**XXX** mortgage.” Mr. Lee got his mower.
By 1962 the Club had become affluent enough to make a few improvements.
Electricity was installed for the first time in the tool shed and the office. The addition
was added on to the back of the office for the storage of clubs and carts, and a workshop
for the caddy master. Also in this year, the driving range was started.

Real opulence hit the Club in 1964 when it was decided to install an automatic
watering system. There is no need of saying more, as almost all of the present members
went through the horrors of that Summer of 1965. The system now works, most of the
scars have healed, and the lushness of the course is the proof of the pudding.

It is more than fitting to pay tribute to the staff of the Club who over the years have
done so much to make the Edgartown Golf Club a uniquely warm and friendly place
and a fun course to play. Mrs. Ralph Martin was assistant Secretary and treasurer for
twenty-four years. Bror Hogland, who built the course, was Greens Superintendent for
twenty-six years, from 1926 to 1952, when his assistant Manny Nunes took over.

No history of the Edgartown Golf Club could or should be written without a few
words about the man that made it possible. Cornelius Smith Lee was not only a man
with a brilliant mind, but also a man of vision and a man of action. He stood resolute in
his principals and these were always of the highest. Many of the fine things that he did
for Edgartown go unsung but that would not bother Connie; he never wanted applause.

He just wanted the people and especially the youth of Edgartown to have a chance to
become good citizens of the town, and of the country. Connie loved the game of golf, had
played well since boyhood and was active in national golf as Secretary of the U.S.G.A.
for twenty years. When the Oak Bluffs Country Club ceased to be a private club, he
determined to start a club in Edgartown. There is no question but when he paid the deficit
for many years, and that without his love of the game, his foresight, his perseverance
and generosity there would be no Edgartown Golf Club. Let us hope that Connie knows
that it is still going strong.

The following period saw continued improvement and expansion at the Club. The year 1975 witnessed major changes as Mrs. Mildred West retired after twentyfive
years of loyal and devoted service. The Club was most fortunate at that time to
secure the services of Jack Spear as Manager. Jack carried out his responsibilities in an
outstanding manner as he gained the respect and friendship of the entire membership.
A determined and capable golfer, he later was to become the Club Champion.

After seventeen years as President, Robert P. Brown, Jr., retired in August 1977.
Bob played an enormously important role in shaping the course and guiding the affairs
of the Club during the critical and formative years. The members will forever be indebted
to him for his effective and selfless service. Maxwell Moore, Vice President for many
years, also retired from office in 1977. Max gave much of his time and talent and was
always available to tackle and resolve problems.

Walter W. Hitesman, Jr. was elected President in August 1977. Under his imaginative
and bold leadership, a host of major improvements were made to the facilities and to the
course. Principal among these were: construction of a golf car storage shed; building of
a barn to house course equipment and machinery; removal of the old metal storage sheds
at the entrance to the Club; a substantial addition to the club storage area; refurbishing
the Pro Shop and locker rooms; numerous course beautification projects; and perhaps
most importantly, the installation of a state-of-the-art watering system.

In October 1981, Manny Nunes retired after having served as Superintendent for a
great many years. Ron Muckle was hired as Superintendent with his wife Arlene working
with him. Ron and Arlene have done an extraordinary job and have contributed greatly to
the Club. Lauress Fisher resigned as Treasurer in August 1984 following seven years of
dedicated service. In 1985 longtime Club Professional Tod Laudonia left the Club after
years of dedicated service to the members. Tod now lives in Connecticut and continues
his membership at Edgartown. The year 1986 witnessed the tragic loss of both our
President, Walter Hitesman, and Manager, Jack Spear. Each of these men had a major
impact on the Club and each will be long remembered.

In Jack’s memory each year, the Club hosts a Tournament, the proceeds of which
benefit the High School Golf Team. The culmination of each summer celebrates Founders
Day on which both Men’s and Ladies’ Championship Final rounds are played, a 9-hole
Scramble event is played, followed by a Cocktail Party and the award of the season’s

A handsome and functional new porch was presented to the Club in 1986 as a gift
from former President Bob Brown. It is named “Lee’s Lookout” in memory of Cornelius
S. Lee, the founder of the Club. At the annual meeting in August, David C. Thompson
was elected President, and Arlene G. Muckle took over as Manager, a job which she
performed with exceptional ability and enthusiasm for the next three years.

The latter part of the eighties was a time for many physical improvements to the
course. Several large cedar trees were moved from the surrounding woods to places on
the course where they would prove both strategic and aesthetic. Most of the tees were
rebuilt and a pond was added to the left of number one green. With the tees rebuilt, the
next series of projects were started. The first green was rebuilt by the able hands of
Ronnie Muckle, and renovation of the Club House began.

In 1989 Mark C. Hess assumed the responsibilities of Club Manager and Frank
Brooks joined the Club as the Golf Professional.

The end of the 1990 season marked the end of a significant era at the Club. After
ten years of extraordinary commitment to his job, Ronnie Muckle turned over the
Superintendent’s responsibilities to Manuel S. DeBettencourt.

During the past few years, emphasis has been placed on improvement of the Club
facilities. The addition to the storage area has provided more space for golfbags, carts
and a small area for employees. An addition to the maintenance shed allows for additional space in which to store equipment, chemicals, fertilizers and supplies.

The addition to the club storage area was constructed by Mark. He, along with
Manny and Dave, also constructed the addition to the maintenance shed.
Improvements on the course consist of the transplanting of trees, construction of
fencing and cart paths.

The purchase of new equipment during the past two years has contributed greatly
to the maintenance and appearance of the course. A fairway mower and a mower for the
primary purpose of cutting steep banks are two of the most important.

At this point in time, the Club is fortunate to have such a dedicated and qualified
group of employees. With Mark at the helm, working closely with Manny and his crew,
a team concept has been developed that results in an effective management program for
the Club. Mark and Manny, along with Ted Morgan and Tony Meyer, have been involved
in the financial management to include an annual operating budget.

Mark has been responsible for many improvements in the club and cart storage areas,
the Pro Shop and men’s locker room. In addition, a new shed was built at the driving
range. This will accommodate all the equipment associated with the driving range.
In the last few years, the Club has invested approximately $60,000 in new equipment,
resulting in the reduction of manual labor and much improved fairways, greens and

The main projects for 1996 were the purchase of a sod cutter and greens mower as
well as extensive bunker and irrigation work. At long last the ladies’ bath and locker
rooms were completely remodeled. Much work was done directly in front of the Club
house. The peastone and wall were replaced with softly contoured grass areas.
In the last few years the club has continued to make improvements in all areas of
the facilities.

In 1997, employee housing was constructed for the general manager and the club
professional. The Board felt that this project was essential to the future of the club and
the members agreed. The project was completed with much employee help and came
in on budget.

Many upgrades have also been made within the maintenance department of the
club. A new storage building was constructed and our equipment program has proved
to be a great success.

In the early years of the new century, many upgrades have been made to the course
and the physical plant.

The membership has been extremely supportive of investing in the future of the club.
The main parking lot was rebuilt from scratch resulting in a cleaner, more attractive
entry to the club. Many improvements at the driving range have resulted in a new chipping
area with 3 multi-purpose bunkers and more practice tee area which allows us to keep
the range open the entire season. A big change from the day when members hit their own
balls off a mat and then had to collect them!

Constant improvements to tees and bunkers on the course have also received much
attention as well as a major electrical and component upgrade to the irrigation system.
Most recently an additional employee house was built which will prove vital in
obtaining good employees in such a seasonal environment.

Several large capital projects have been completed in the years 2007-2012.
A major addition to the cart barn and bag room was added and has given us ample
room to operate.

In 2011 a new maintenance storage building was constructed and it has greatly enhanced
the capacity for equipment and improved the safety and efficiency of the grounds operation.

Also in 2011 the club launched a website, which has proved to be very successful and
everyone enjoys it.

In 2012 the club hired Kenneth J. Magnuson as the Superintendent of the Edgartown
Golf Club. Ken becomes only the 5th superintendent in the club’s 87 year history.
The course seems to get better every year and the club has proved to be a most enjoyable
experience for the members.