ROCKINGHAM — Bellows Falls Country Club (BFCC) is celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2022 with a series of golf and social events.
The first round of golf played 100 years ago was on Memorial Day 1922. To commemorate this day and the weekend, first on the “tee” of events will be an open house party celebration on May 28 from noon to 4 p.m., followed by a golf tournament on May 29. The tournament, an 18-hole scramble, will be a mix of a “little old and a little new,” where players will need to use a hickory club for a designated stroke on each hole with contemporary clubs used for the remaining strokes.
BFCC is a nine-hole, member-owned club which is open to the public. For 100 years, BFCC has continued to be a social and recreational destination for the community, providing a place where members and guests gather to enjoy one another’s company in a family friendly, unpretentious, and relaxing environment.
In April of 1922, a group of 20 or more local golf enthusiasts accepted the proposition of S.C. Morehouse, owner of Barber Park, a 19th century amusement park in Saxtons River, for the use of the meadowlands of the park property for a six-hole course which would offer 2,000 yards of “interesting” play. Opening Day was May 30, 1922, with the first ball being teed off by then Club President, Dana J. Pierce. Membership cost $10 and at the time of the opening, there were 134 members.
At the November 1922 Annual Meeting, the Board of Governors made the decision to look for a property that would better serve the club. In May of 1923, the club purchased the Frank Lane farm in Rockingham, the club’s current location. The purchase price was $3,700 and consisted of 95 acres, with 50 acres of meadow and pastures, a brook, three natural spring holes and the Williams River. This natural landscape of rolling hills, open meadows, natural hazards, and an excellent water supply, offered an ideal setting for the club and a nine-hole course.
The club likes to boast of the distinction of having an Open Champion who laid out the course in May of 1923. David “Deacon” Brown won the 1886 Open Championship and finished second in the 1903 U.S. Open. In total, he had 12 top-10 finishes in major championship tournaments. In addition to designing courses in England, Scotland and New England, Brown also gave lessons in Scotland and England with his most famous student being Queen Victoria. The club meeting minutes of May 7, 1923, state Brown was paid $300 for his services of laying out the nine-hole course. An article in the Bellows Falls Times, dated May 17, 1923, details Brown’s trip from Boston and the laying out of the course.
Holes have been made longer, starting and finishing holes have changed and many improvements have been made over the last 100 years; yet the lay out by Brown remains relatively unchanged from his 1923 design. Anthony Pioppi, golf historian and author of “The Finest Nines” describes the course as, “…a must play jewel in southern Vermont and for fans of golf architecture”; “…...a world class second green”; “…. enjoyable and challenging layouts”; and …there is not a clunker(hole) among them.”
It is BFCC’s vision for the next 100 years to remain true to the old school course architecture, to continuously make improvements on the course, in the clubhouse and member/guests services, with the goal of providing an exceptional golfing and social experience.
BFCC is open seasonally from mid-April to the end of October. For additional information about the club and upcoming events, visit www.bellowsfallscountryclub.com. Inquiries may be made at firstname.lastname@example.org and by calling 802-463-9809.