The History of Flint Golf Club

The History of Flint Golf Club

Remembering our past while looking forward to the future

Remembering our past while looking forward to the future

Flint Golf Club is steeped in history, and we are very proud of our rich and storied past. What started as a social club in 1910 has become a premier golf club, offering extraordinary personal service and complemented by excellent facilities. In looking to the future, it is always important to remember the past.

The Flint Country Club was originally built on the Medbury farm near Goodrich (Atlas). With 39 original members paying $500 each, the farm was purchased for $13,200 and the balance of the money was used for the “golf links and other club accessories.”

J. Dallas Dort, one of America’s most prominent automotive pioneers, was the club’s prime mover and shaker. Dort was Flint Golf Club's first golf and greens chairman, and he single handedly designed the initial nine hole layout, creating a first-class course - complete with sand bunkers - by 1915. Members reached the course by way of the Detroit Inter-Urban Railway, which had stops in both Flint and Atlas. Some of the remains of the railway banks can still be seen by looking west from the 8th green or 9th fairway on the Atlas Valley CC course. You could also drive to the golf course, if you had car and could manage the dirt roads. This difficult access problem soon became apparent to the members and Mr. Dort started looking for suitable land in Flint.

Finding a new home

By 1916 Mr. Dort had been appointed trustee to acquire property nearer to Flint that could accomodate an 18 hole golf course and be reached more conveniently. The deeds from many landowners went to “J. Dallas Dort, Trustee” and were recorded in the fall of 1916, covering the present property and the adjacent area, which was to be sub-divided. Many others were active in developing and assisting Mr. Dort, including but not limited to Harry Bassett, John Carton, Charles Bonbright, and Albert Champion.

In 1918 the Flint Country Club Corporation was started as a separate entity to the Flint Golf Club Corporation. We believe the original intent was to separate the golf course from the lot owners and to later dissolve the land company after all the lots were sold. Prospective landowners / members had to be elected to the Flint Country Club Social Organization and also buy a lot from the new Flint Country Club Corporation, which had sub-divided and perfected this plat on August 15, 1918. The original area involved approximately 150 lots surrounding the 127 acre golf course property.

Financing was the next step in the process. The future of Flint Golf Club was shaped with the help of the “Golf Gods”, and this certainly was among the most powerful group of men in the United States at the time. The purchase price for the golf course land and surrounding lots was estimated at $225,000. In addition to Dort, the following were the original incorporators: Walter P. Chrysler, William S. Ballenger, Edwin Atwood, Arthur M. Davidson, Charles S. Mott, Fred A. Aldrich, Charles M. Begole, William W. Mountain, Harry Basset, Charles Bonbright, and Arthur G. Bishop.

The original Board of Directors was as impressive, consisting of: A. G. Bishop, C. M. Begole, Colonel B. Burr, C. S. Mott, W. A. Smith, W.C. Durant, K. T. Keller and John J. Raskob. These men were at the forefront of the modern industrial revolution and the automotive industry. Many were well known around the world in the early 20th century.

On September 13, 1918, the Chicago architect Robert Seyfert was hired to design and supervise the construction of a clubhouse, at a cost “not to exceed $50,000.” It was determined later that the golf course and clubhouse would cost approximately $300,000 to complete, in addition to the original funding.

Designing a world class golf course

Designing a world class golf course

A new site required a new course, so the club hired world class architect Willie Park, Jr. to design and build our championship layout. Park was a two-time winner of the Open Championship and designed more than 100 courses in the U.S. - notably Maidstone and Olympia Fields. He was known as the pioneer of modern golf course construction. Read more here. While the clubhouse was not complete, the course opened for play on May 18, 1919.

At the time Flint Golf Club was open for play, we had more than 200 Class A members and 21 Class B (Ladies and Juniors). When the clubhouse construction was completed, the Albert Pick Co. handled the furnishing, and the grand opening party was held on June 1, 1919. It was a stag affair - men only.

The attendees included: Dallas Dort, Albert Champion, Walter Chrysler, Billy Durant, Charles Mott, Harlow Curtis, Charles Nash, Harry Bassett, Ed Atwood, W. Clark, Bill Bird, J. Beckwith, F. Eddy, K. Keller, Charles Bonbright, Fred Aldrich, and Arthur Bishop to name a few. One can only imagine what kind of conversations took place that night with the founders of GM, AC Sparkplug, Chrysler Corp., Nash Corporation, (American Motors), all in the same room together. Flint Golf Club indeed has an illustrious history of which we can all be proud.

Original clubhouse destroyed by fire

A fire destroyed the clubhouse and all early club records on January 8, 1958. It was on that day that 106 club members were attending the last award stag of the season. The Fire Department was called but due to frozen water lines, no water could be pumped, so the members and firemen watched helplessly as the wooden clubhouse burned to the ground.

Rebuilding the facilities was estimated to cost $700,000, or approximately $16.83 per square foot. The club used a novel approach to finance the construction. They borrowed $400,000 from the members at no interest. They also received $500,000 from insurance. The rationale was simple, if each member lent the club $800 the club would not have to take out a mortgage for $400,000 and have a payment of $6400 per month at 5 ½ % interest. The members share of potential mortgage cost would be $1182, so this was easier on the membership.

The dues remained the same and the clubhouse opened for business again on June 29, 1959. The design was so successful that over 32 groups inspected our clubhouse for the unique layout that was designed by Sulho Nurmi and Ralph Knuth, who were members.

Looking to the future

Flint Golf Club undertook a $2.5 million dollar renovation to our facilities in 2002. We completely upgraded the 47,000 square foot club house to better serve members and reflect the our dedication to quality and tradition. Our clubhouse facilities, including all of our dining and banquet facilities, are first class and among the finest in Mid-Michigan. Our food and beverage staff will do everything possible to make your sponsored event or your membership activity a most enjoyable experience, and one that ads great value to you or your organization.

Our golf shop, under the direction of PGA Professional Scott Brotebeck, is one of the finest in the state, with staff, equipment and teaching support to meet all of your golfing needs. Our golf course is one of the most enjoyable layouts in the region and was voted most scenic in 2013 by readers of the Flint Journal and Mlive. The classic Willie Park design challenges all levels of golfers, and is unique for the area and one that you are sure to enjoy.

Our swimming and tennis facilities are enjoyed by many during the summer season, and we are proud of what we have to offer in terms of instruction and competition for our members and families.

Our dining and banquet facilities are unsurpassed in the region, and our members and staff make this club one of the most enjoyable places to dine and meet with family, friends and business associates.

As we look to the future of Flint Golf Club we recognize our traditions, but at the same time we understand that the people and organizations that founded our great club have changed over the years and so must we. Our club is dedicated to providing a great experience, whether dining or participating in golf, tennis, swimming or the many social activities. We want to make sure that individual and group activities are enjoyable and affordable for all of our members.

We believe we have the best member group around, a professional staff to meet all of your club needs, excellent facilities that are second to none, and an atmosphere that needs to be experienced to really understand what Flint Golf Club has to offer.

As we go further into the 21st century, with more than 100 years as an organization, we look forward to another 100 years for Flint Golf Club. If you are a member, we thank you for your membership, and if you are reading this for the first time as a guest, we urge you to talk with us about membership opportunities.