Backtracking: The Early Years: Norwich country club opening was a banner event in 1920

Mark SimonsonThe Canasawacta Country Club golf course in Norwich is shown on May 12.

 “Surprising early season form was displayed by the half hundred golfers who competed in the Memorial Day Golf tournament on the Canasawacta Country Club course,” the Norwich Sun reported on Tuesday, June 1, 1920. It was the grand opening of the new club, after more than a year of preparation.

Although the club is now open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it is quietly marking the centennial this year.

It was just a bit more than a year before when the Sun reported on April 4, 1919, that the club was assured for the county. At a largely attended meeting at what was called the Norwich Club, the membership for the proposed country club was already at 106 members with a sum of nearly $12,000 subscribed in stock.

“With the membership and stock both above the minimum set by the directors, the contract will be let immediately and the work of getting the clubhouse and grounds in condition for occupancy will be rushed.”

Elected as directors of the new club were Dr. Charles M. Dunne, president; Mayor Linn H. Babcock, vice president; Nathan Goodrich, secretary, and Warren E. Eaton, treasurer.

Only weeks later, the Sun told how a visitor from Binghamton, Jack Brett of the Binghamton Country Club, took a tour of the work in progress with Dr. Dunne and called the grounds one of the finest golf links he had ever seen.

“You can have links here which, if desired, will bring out a test of skill on the part of the golfers,” Brett said after scanning the miniature gorge, rolling knolls and the flat stretch of ground nearest the Canasawacta Creek.

Brett witnessed much being done as, “A force of men are now at work…removing stones preparatory to having the course rolled. According to the present plans a six or ten ton steam roller will smooth the grounds out where ever necessary and a lighter roller will finish the work.

“The house which now stands on the country club’s property will be moved to a site several hundred feet west of its present location. On the new site the clubhouse will command a wonderful view of both the Canasawacta and Chenango valleys, overlooking the Plymouth state road which winds along the west bank of the creek.”

Anticipation was growing for the opening in 1920, as the Sun of May 5 said, “Three silver loving cups have been presented…as trophies for the golf tournament of the season. The members of the house committee have had a gang of men working on the road leading from the state road to the club house so that by Decoration Day the road will be as smooth as a boulevard.” That’s today’s county Route 44, leading from state Route 12.

The big day arrived, and the Sun continued, “But golf was not the only attraction at this popular country club, for the formal opening of the club house for the season took place at this time. A fine luncheon was served at 1 o’clock to about 75 guests, and a splendid dinner at night, at which 150 persons were served. Following the dinner, dancing was enjoyed by the visitors to the musical strains of Johnson’s orchestra.”

Of course, the golf got much attention. “Premier honors…went to Charles Pflanz who won the silver cup donated by the Sherburne members of this popular club. Mr. Pflanz had the low score and thereby walked away with the honor prize of the day’s events. There were numerous other prizes in which much good form was displayed by the players.”

It was the start of a busy season. “Starting June 10 and continuing every Thursday night during the season, dances will be held at the club house…and for which Johnson’s orchestra will play.

“It is expected that a little later in the season the ladies will hold a card party one afternoon a week. Members of the club are enthusiastic over the season’s prospects and if future events prove as popular and entertaining as the initial one of yesterday, there is an abundance of good times in store for all who visit the Canasawacta Country Club this summer and fall.”

On Wednesday: A look at our local higher education scene in June 1965.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Tuesday columns address local history 1950 and later. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.

Ask Mark... 

Have you ever had a question about a history-making event or a prominent person in our area and didn't know where to find the answer? Well, we've got an expert who might be able to help you. Historian Mark Simonson has spent many years chronicling major local happenings, and he's ready and willing to dive into The Daily Star archives for answers, which will appear in this newspaper and online at www.thedailystar.com.

Write to him at "Ask Mark," The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com

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