The History of Inwood Country Club
Inwood Country Club owes its existence to a lover's promise to his fiancée.
In 1900, prominent tobacco merchant, Jacob Wertheim was engaged to wed Emma Stern of Far Rockaway. She wanted to indulge in the game of golf but had no place to play. As a gesture to his ladylove, Wertheim announced that he would build a golf course for her. He immediately entered into an understanding with two associates, and in January 1901 the trio rented a potato farm at Inwood, Long Island, converted an old farm building into a clubhouse and called it the Inwood Country Club. Early in 1901, a Scotsman named William Martin was engaged as golf professional. Dr. William Exton, with the aid of a specialist named Arthur Thatcher, laid out a nine-hole links that meandered around the property. The expense of laying out the course amounted to $610.00. For his services, Martin received an annual fee of $200.00. The following year he became a hack driver. Apparently that was a more lucrative profession. Five years later, in 1906, the course was expanded to 18 holes by Edward Eriksen. The club progressed in fits and starts and by 1915 it purchased the land on which the golf course was situated. Within a few short years, Inwood became one of the few courses to host two major golf championships: the 1921 PGA Championship, won by Walter Hagen, and the 1923 U.S. Open Championship, scene of Bobby Jones’ victory and famous “shot heard ‘round the world”. Today, visitors to Inwood will see noteworthy memorabilia which evoke the excitement and drama of those events.
Construction of Inwood’s elegant, Georgian style clubhouse was begun in 1916, and completed the following year. The clubhouse underwent a major renovation in 1961, and again in 2000, in time for the celebration of the club’s centennial year, 2001.
Substantial redesign and reconstruction of the golf course were executed in the first half of the twentieth century under the stewardship of Herbert Strong. Strong, responsible for the design of several championship venues, was Inwood’s pro from 1912-1916. He was followed by Jack Mackie, whose tenure began in 1917. Mackie improved the course further, bringing it to championship caliber. An important figure in American golf, he was vice president of the PGA for two years, and treasurer for ten. He retired from Inwood in 1950, and was succeeded by PGA tournament winner, Vic Ghezzi. Ghezzi was followed by the remarkable athlete, Ellsworth Vines. Vines, originally a sensation in the tennis world (He won the U.S. National Championship twice and Wimbledon once.), won three times on the PGA tour and contended in the U.S. Open, the Masters and the PGA. His, was a career without parallel in the annals of sport. He retired in 1965. He was followed by Jimmy Wright, then John Langford and then Tommy Thomas, who retired in 2012. Our current pro, Cameron Wood, has been at Inwood for some twenty-five years. He has a warm relationship with the membership, and is greatly admired for his playing and teaching skills.
Many of golf’s greatest luminaries have trod the fairways of Inwood: Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Nancy Lopez, Ken Venturi, Curtis Strange and so many more.
The venerable traditions and history of The Inwood Country Club have solidified its position as one of America’s national treasures. Born when American golf was in its infancy, it thrives today; a seasoned witness to the nobility of the game, and proud of its place in the pantheon of historic American golf courses.