History of Golf & Golf Courses in Marin (2015 Event)

by Laurie Thompson

Golfers at the Mill Valley Golf Club, 1920s. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 15, 2015 at noon when golf historian Sean Tully will give an illustrated presentation on the early history of golf and golf courses in Marin. His talk will highlight the locations of Marin’s earliest golf courses -1898–1935- and will bring to light some of the interesting stories they have to tell. The talk will be held under the dome of the Civic Center Library in Suite 427 at 3501 Civic Center Dr. in San Rafael.

Mill Valley Golf Club, 1920s Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

The Mill Valley Golf Club -which opened on November 1, 1919- is well documented in one of our photo albums which once belonged to Arthur Davidson Mills, a Mill Valley resident and photographer for “Fairway Magazine.”

In his book Mill Valley: The Early Years, Marin historian Barry Spitz provides a detailed history of the Mill Valley Golf Club which, after several false starts in the late 19th-century, was organized at a meeting held at the Outdoor Art Club in 1919.

Mill Valley Golf Club, 1920s Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

Barry tells us that the Mill Valley Golf Club had 40 charter members and was located at the base of Warner Canyon, just outside the city limits. He goes on to say:

Clubhouse at the Mill Valley Golf Club, 1920s Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

John H. Clark, a greenskeeper and professional golfer, laid out a 9-hole course as he had at the Marin Golf & Country Club in San Rafael and at the Ingleside course in San Francisco. The first tee was across Buena Vista Avenue. The approximately 2,200-yard course was pronounced fit for play on November 1, 1919. The clubhouse itself opened in 1920. The first tournament, a blind handicap…was held the weekend of February 7–8, 1920. The first inter-club match, against the Belvedere Golf & Country Club, was played on the weekend of April 10–11, 1920….. The Mill Valley Record carried golf club news on its front page for years…. Despite the initial interest, the club failed to reach half of the projected goal of 300 members…. The depression years of the 1930s proved even bleaker…. In 1938, the remaining members voted to offer the golf course to the City of Mill Valley for $25,000….. It took three elections…before the bond measure achieved the necessary two-thirds majority. This finally happened on January 20, 1939…. The course and clubhouse have been run by the City of Mill Valley ever since.

Originally published at https://annetkent.kontribune.com.

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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room

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