History of Wahconah Country Club
The plan for Wahconah Country Club was first conceived in October of 1928. Wayne Stiles was selected as the architect and he quickly produced a plan for all 18 holes with the back nine to be constructed first. Construction began later that month and continued throughout 1929. Play actually commenced in the late fall of 1929 on what is now our front nine. The formal opening was held on May 30th 1930 with Ted Stevens as the first Superintendent.
The land for Wahconah Country Club was offered by Mr. Fredrick Crane from a large parcel of land within his Flint Stone farm. Other supporters included Mr. Z. Marshall Crane, Mr. Winthrop M Crane, Jr. and many other citizens of Dalton. On July 26th, 1932 a meeting of the cooperators of Wahconah Country Club took place at the Community House. The purpose of the meeting was to receive the deed for the property from Mr. Fred Crane as a gift.
Total cost for construction was in the neighborhood of $37,500. The fourth hole was the most expensive to build at a cost of $2,272.10. Dues were $25.00 for men and $12.50 for women. Greens fees were $1.50 for 18 holes. The total membership was 193 made up mostly of Dalton residents.
Construction for the back nine commenced in October of 1959. Play on the back nine began during the summer of 1961. Geoff Cornish was hired as the architect following the original routing plan of Wayne Stiles. Roland Armacost was the construction Superintendent and remained as Course Superintendent. Construction costs were in the neighborhood of $80,000. Dues at this time were around $50.00. Ed Fletcher was one of the key members of the staff at this time and remained on staff until the late 80’s, serving much of that time as Course Superintendent.
Robert (Bobby) Tyre Jones Jr. played his last round of golf at Wahconah CC on August 15, 1948 with Bruce Crane, Rankin Furey and Bill O’Connell. Rene Clarke’s portrait commemorating the event with a note from Bob Jones stating, “This was my last effort, sorry it wasn’t a better one – Bob Jones” was donated to the USGA. The only other copy of this portrait hangs in the Wahconah clubhouse.
Lost Bunkers: There were once two fairway bunkers on the right of #1 where there is now only one. The second hole used to have three bunkers along the right, instead of the current two. This third bunker was directly right of the green and would have been blind from the tee. The 5th hole also had a third right greenside bunker. The 7th fairway had two bunkers on the left side. The 8th green had two right greenside bunkers where there is now only one. The 14th fairway bunker once extended across the approach and served as a cross hazard. The 16th fairway had a fairway bunker along the left side adjacent to the 14th men’s tee.
Tree Planting: Tree planting began as early as 1932 with the area behind the third green planted. In 1963 over 2,800 evergreen seedlings were planted with the 7th hill and the area adjacent to the 12th and 14th holes planted as tree nurseries. Tree planting continued in earnest well into the early 90’s.
Fairways: Fairway acreage in 1962 was almost 60 acres. In 2008 we will mow 27 acres of fairway. The golf course sits on roughly 155 acres with 3 acres for greens and almost 2 acres of tees and around 60 acres of rough. The rest of the area is made up of woods and wetlands.
Irrigation: In 1993, Wahconah Country Club became the first club in the Berkshires to install a fully automated irrigation system. The pump station can pump water at 600 gallons per minute to the 300 plus irrigation heads on the golf course. A computer in the Superintendent’s office controls the entire system. In 2003, the system was upgraded with new software and controllers making control from a hand held radio or even from the Superintendent’s own home a possibility.
Bunkering: Starting in 1997 a committee was formed to investigate the possibility of rebuilding and reconditioning the 56 bunkers on the course. The main goal was to rebuild the bunkering on the back nine that would resemble the Wayne Stiles bunkers located on the front nine. Geoff Cornish was hired as the architect. The project commenced in the fall of 1997 and was completed in the fall of 1998. The front nine bunkers had the sand removed to the original levels, had drainage issues corrected and new sand installed. The back nine bunkers were rebuilt with new drainage, new mounding and new sand added. The character of the back was greatly improved. In 2003 the original greenside bunker on the back right of the 3rd green was reestablished. This bunker had been removed sometime in the 1960’s. The mammoth cross bunker on the 17th hole was rebuilt in 2005. The heavy gravel cavity of the bunker was reinforced with a sprayable bunker liner that is designed to minimize contamination. This bunker has developed a reputation as one of the most fearsome hazards on the course. In 2007 the 3rd and 7th fairway bunkers had their sand replaced.
Greens: Over the history of the golf course it had become evident that most greens on the course had lost much of their original shape and size. Starting in 2002 the Greens Department began the slow and difficult task of reshaping the contours of the greens. To date the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, and 18th greens have seen significant reshaping, adding close to 3,000 sq/ft of additional green space. This increased space has led to unique hole locations and provides more interest in the greens.
Clubhouse: In 2001 a committee was formed to refurbish the area outside the clubhouse. A tent area adjacent to the first tee had already been added in 1997. Starting in the fall of 2001 the porch/ deck area was replaced with a more functional blue stone patio. This area was covered with an awning. A perennial garden was added to the front of the clubhouse replacing a very steep lawn. The entire area is surrounded by a Goshen stone wall. In conjunction with this project a new practice green was constructed over the existing green. This new green doubled the size of the old green.
Practice Area: Starting around the same time as the clubhouse project a practice area was developed to the left of the 1st tee/ 2nd tee area. The old practice green from the clubhouse was moved to this area. Irrigation was added from the 2nd tee. Since the area was already heavily populated with bent grass a fairway and approach area was also developed. A practice bunker was added to the right of the green. After severe flooding in 2006, the bunker was moved to the other side of the green and mounding was added to the right of the green. This area serves as a nursery for the green department and also as a nice short game practice area.
Tees: Recognizing a need to improve its teeing space Wahconah Country Club has been periodically improving existing teeing space, adding distance and developing new teeing grounds. In the late 80’s the 9th tee area was elevated and moved to the right. The 8th men’s tee was also rebuilt. In 1995 the 5th hole was lengthened some 30 yards with a new blue tee. A new larger white tee was built in 1999. The 8th ladies tee was moved further to the right in 1998. The 2nd tee was enlarged slightly to the left, laser graded and had new sod installed in 2002. The upper tee on the 7th was rebuilt in 2002. This tee was made large enough to handle both the white and blue tee players. The lower tee that was built in the 1960’s was essentially abandoned in favor of the upper tee, which was the original. In 2002 the 4th tee was expanded in the front left. The 16th tee was leveled, enlarged and resoded in 2004. The 14th tee saw a rear addition in 2005, lengthening the par 5 by 15 yards. In 2006 a new 10th ladies tee was constructed slightly forward and to the left of the old tee. This was done to shorten the hole slightly and also to remove the danger from the nearby driving range. In 2007 the club decided to expand the 6th tee to the rear. The new blue tee added about 12 yards to the hole and provided an extra 1,100 sq/ft of teeing space.
Tree Removal: Starting in 1999 the green committee began to study the effects of trees on the overall health and playability of the golf course. After a devastating winter filled with significant ice damage to the turf it became apparent that some trees were seriously inhibiting the overall health of the turf. Removal began behind the 4th green. Improvements to this green were noticed right away. This type of work continued behind the 2nd, 6th, 14th and 16th greens. Over planted rough areas on the right side of the 14th and 15th holes were also thinned creating better turf, more playability and promote recovery options. The overgrown tree nursery surrounding the upper 7th tee was thinned of the underbrush and hardwood in 2007 and 2008.