The First Ventura County Country Club
The creation of Ventura County's first country club in 1921 was big news and a sign of the sophistication the county had achieved. Founding president was banker, politician and agriculturist, Walter H. Duval. Board members included prominent citizens like banker and philanthroper, Eugene P. Foster, Limoneira president, Charles C. Teague, banker and rancher, Charles Donlon, agriculturist and oil developer, Charles C. Perkins, and agriculturist and land developer, Clarence Chrisman. By 1923, the first brochure was produced that listed all of the members. The name of the non-profit organization was the Ventura County Country Club (VCCC).
The Best In Design
The founders chose the best in design at the time. Golf course design was by George C. Thomas, Jr. and William P. Bell, whose works include the golf courses of the Riviera, La Cumbre (pictured below), Ojai Valley Inn, and Los Angeles, North Course country clubs. Clubhouse design was by Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns, whose portfolio includes the Wilshire Country Club, Southwest Museum the Los Angeles Automobile Club, and locally the Pierpont Inn and the Glen Tavern Inn.
A Community Asset
By the end of the 1920s the VCCC was such a success that it was frequently used as a financial attraction for real estate purposes. This Chamber promotional brochure from 1929-30 highlights the golf club as a reason for commercial and residential investment.
The Stars & Stripes Celebrity Golf Tournament
Golf became extremely popular during WWII because it could be played anywhere, from barracks to prison yards, as evidenced by the book 'When War Played Through'.
Bing Crosby and Maurie Luxford brought this tournament to the Ventura County Country Club to benefit the large local military community. He also brought many friends.
Bob Hope joined Crosby on April 5, 1943. Other celebrities playing that day were golf star athlete, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, actors Mickey Rooney and Randolph Scott, radio star, Harry Von Zell, power golfer and alleged bank robber, Mysterious Montague, and golf sports writer, 'Scotty' Chisholm in his famous kilts.
A crowd of 7,500 paid $.55 a ticket for the show of their lives to 'benefit the boys'.
|A New Era - The Saticoy Country Club|
After the Depression and World War II, club membership had dwindled to 44 members. A conscious decision and vote was made to continue the club. It was felt that membership should not be restricted to just Ventura County. A name change was proposed and accepted to reflect the club's prosperous post war vision, The Saticoy Country Club.
In November of 1946, the articles of incorporation were accepted and the SCC era began.
Ladies Day - The SWGA & Pro Tony Lazane
In 1946 the Saticoy Women’s Golf Association organized and was incorporated in 1947. This attracted players like Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) co-founder, Louise Suggs, to play at SCC. Francis Randall was a founding SWGA member ad a Southland golf champion.
A special and enduring person was hired. In 1946, Tony Lazane would become the golf pro at SCC and become a legend. He would serve the club for 31 years.
Happy Days Are Here Again
Within a year, membership soared to 180 BY 1947. The banner year was 1949. Tournaments multiplied and the SCC is a winner. Ted Gleichmann and his team-mates accepted first place trophies at the Ojai Country Club. Post WWII prosperity fueled an atmosphere of fun as shown by the wonderful photographs of the club Luau, Halloween party, and Tour-n-about Tourney. The SCC was constantly in the news as THE place to be.
A Prosperous Ventura Country Jewel
The Saticoy Country Club is a jewel of the prosperous Ventura County and a ‘social center for leading residents’. The photo magazine of mid century Ventura was called Ventura Views, similar to LIFE magazine. The SCC was featured every month on its pages. This selection is from the annual of 1951 that showcased Ventura County. The SCC is outlined in yellow and was the signature image for Saticoy.
The SCC Winning Combinations
In the 1950s, members of the SCC were the winning combinations of Southern California tournaments throughout the Southland.
In 1954, Ted Gleichmann and Ed 'Bones' Lambert took top honors at the Los Angeles Country Club Sartori Championship. That same year Ted Gleichmann and C. Harold Gragg captured the crown at the Brentwood Country Club Invitational.
The camera captured similar prestigious teams with SCC members, such as the 1952 Mac Beth Memorial at the Wilshire Country Club with Von Moffat and Ed Lambert, and the 1953 San Gabriel Cravens with Von Moffat and Ed Lambert.
The SCC Archives show wide spread participation, such as Ed Lambert with Fletcher Jones (white cap) of automotive fame at Lakeside CC and Ted Gleichman and Ed Lambert at the 1954 Palm Springs Thunderbird Invitational.
Walter Duval, Father of the Saticoy Country Club
He was the founding member and visionary of the Ventura County Country Club.
He served as the board president for 25 years, from 1921 to 1946. SCC began as a 'boys night out' card game in the home of Duval and grew to become the VCCC. Santa Paula rancher, president of Union National Bank of Ventura since organized in 1927. Born on a farm, always interested in local farming, owned several ranches. Ran for state assembly for state senet and was sucessful, representing VC until 1937. Active in the Santa Clara Water Conservation District and a director. Was president of Ventura County Mortgage Corporation, Saticoy Citrus Company, Farmers Realty and Investment Company. Director of Briggs Lemon Association and Mupu Citrus Association.
The 1950 Senior Class Yearbook
The SCC commissioned a professional membership album in 1950. They hired EA Photography, founded in 1945 whose specialty was in membership and corporate portraits. Their clients include the Annandale Golf Club, The Brentwood Country Club and Lakeside Golf Club. They are still in business today. A small selection of famous SCC members displayed here are Charles Mc Conica, Dr. Charles Hair, John Mc Conica, Scotty Harris, Cary Toldman, C. Harold Gragg, Charles M. Teague, 'Prez' Hertel, and Dr. Douglas Penfield. This extraordinary collection also captured the style of the era in its portraits of John Newman by the fireplace and Leroy Goodenough with his dalmation.
Golfing Legends of the SCC
Three portraits from the 1950 yearbook were chosen 40 years later to be given special recognition in shadowbox displays. Those names were John Arneill, Ted Gleichmann, and Dr. Ed 'Bones' Lambert. These men showed extraordinary skill at the game of golf and took the SCC colors to many high profile events.
Ted Gleichann - An SCC Hall of Famer
Joining the SCC in 1946, Gleichmann became a legend in golf and the community. He set the first course record of 66, was club champion 9 times, 11 times at Valley Club, and Ventura County champion 6 times. He qualified for the US Open 2 times, was a contestant for the Masters at Augusta, and reached the quarter finals of the National Amateur 2 times.
Owner of the Pierpont Inn, below he is hosting many golf legends, including Hoot Bennett and Ned Thomasen. A personal friend of Bing Crosby, he came in 2nd in 1963 as Amateur at the Crosby National ‘Clambake’ (Pebble Beach) as the amateur partner to professional Bob Duden. Today, this tournament is called the AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro Am.
The Clubhouse Expansion
In 1961 membership was at an all time high and the Saticoy Country Club completed an expansion and remodel of the clubhouse on Wells Road in February.
This is an actual aerial photo of the clubhouse and course taken shortly after this expansion was complete. Only portions of the clubhouse remain today at the old location which serve as a public site called Saticoy Regional Golf Course.
A Golf Boom - and Booming Forward
By 1962, California was having a Golf Boom. Less than one year after the club expansion, SCC decides on a new location with 18 holes. Long time member, Gene Thrift, suggests leasing the Lloyd-Butler property. Oxnard developer, Martin V. Smith buys the old club and course. New club sites are ready by 1963.
Once again, SCC would choose notable architects to design their future.
William “Billy” Francis Bell – Course Design
He and his father, William P. Bell were inducted into the Southland Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
Fred Hummel – Clubhouse Design
He became the State Architect of California and designed the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. Golfdom magazine of 1964 noted Hummel’s innovative use of ‘reverse stress’ for SCC.
Building A Dream
These photos show the west and the east sides of the clubhouse. Note the board members on the balcony. The pool begins to take shape. Noted local photographer, Walter Dibblee, was commissioned to document this SCC transition and opening day. He is the same photographer was on staff of Ventura Views.
A Dream Realized
This spectacular aerial photo shows the clubhouse and golf course as it looked just days before it opened on June 2, 1964. William P. Bell designed a classic golf course for the modern era. Superintendent Ernest Gee kept meticulous records of the construction of the course that are in the SCC archives. Architect, Fred Hummel, created a Mid-Century modern landmark with a timeless quality.
A Funny Farewell
May 29, 1964 was the Farewell Tournament with a round of ‘Goofy Golf’.
Costumes were required and everybody would tee off while sitting on a barstool.
Thanks for the Memories
In the first Green Tattler newsletter for the new location, Tournament Chairman,Elmo Tanner, took the space to recall the good times at the old location. In this article he remembered: The Stars & Stripes Tournament of 1943, Lawrence Welk playing at the SCC Grand Ball, Mickey Rooney’s bad bet, Tony Lazane as Golf Pro, the famous luaus, and much much more.
The First Day of a New Life
On June 2, 1964, what are now 'classic cars' assembled for play on Hole No. 1. The crowd gathered and warmed up. The young man with the sweater in the foreground is Charlie Mc Conica. The ladies of the SWGA also took their place in the warm up. Before the first swing, attending board members, the architect, and supporting friends posed for a group picture:
Board members and friends gather:
L-R: Joe Seward, Charles Mc Conica, Carl Dwire, Jr., Bob Bradford, Oather Vance, Unknown, Bob Winkler, Elmo Tanner, architect Fred Hummel, and Bob Marchman.
Once again, local noted photographer, Walter Dibblee, captured the historic moment.
The First Swing
As it had been in 1921, the opening of the new location in 1964 was big news in the press. The first swing on the new course was taken by President Joe Seward.The first foursome was made up of Bob Marchman, Oather, Vance, Charles Mc Conica and Joe Seward. If you look closely at the crowd behind Seward, you can locate Pompy Gragg, Evelyn Munzio, Marilyn Rulfo, Oather Vance, and many others.
Pomp and Circumstance - The Amazing "Pompy Gragg"
Born Laverne Straughan, she married C. Harold Gragg in 1942. She received her life long nickname of 'Pompy' after playing a character of the same name in a Ventura school play. A significant golfer of the 1960s, she won the women’s SCC championship 8 times.
In the women’s category, she was the last to win at the old location and the first to win at the new. Wife of long-time member, C. Harold Gragg, himself a champion of the 1950s, she was playing golf right up until her passing of the age of 90.
The Golden Anniversary
This golden milestone event began the day with costumes and a round of goofy golf again. The 50th Anniversary celebration for SCC was widely covered in the press as it was a milestone for Ventura County, as well. Formal invitations welcomed member participation in 1920s costumes, goofy golf, and a grand ball. Shown is the actual scorecard with the instructions for playing 'goofy golf'. The day ended with a Grand Ball. Shown are SCC Board President W. G. Sparks admiring the championship medal of Dr. Mc Kenzie . Pictured in all their elegant finery for the ball are Del and Norbert Soares as they join Elizabeth and Russ Chambers for the evening.
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The Diamond Anniversary
Another milestone was met in November of 1996 with the Diamond 75th Anniversary of the SCC. Several years in advance, the board took up the quest for finding SCC history to display at the event and many of those items were used in compiling this display. The History Committee members were Earl Hampton, Gordon Lange, Bob Lowe, and Lee Martin. In 1992, the Club Champion shields were created and installed in the bar area of the club, meticulously researched by Bob Lowe.
Professional artist and board member, Gordon Lange, created original art to celebrate and use as graphic ad art for the event. Artists throughout the community donated special works to commemorate the event. All members went all out in doning professional level 1920s costumes with even employees and servers dressed in their finest array. Many members came as famous 1920s Hollywood characters, such as W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, and Rudolph Valentino. Again, widely covered in the press, it was a spectacular success worthy of a 75 year history.
The Best - Then and Now
The SCC golf course designed by William Park Bell in 1963 was a classic course for the modern era. It was also extraordinarily complex and challenging. So much so that it was placed on Golf Digest's 1967-1968 list called Americas 200 Toughest Courses. Over the years, the course had been refined and defined by such notable golf architects as Robert Muir Graves and Tom Doak. In 2004, a Master Plan was created by John Harbottle III, who was responsible for creating the classic capes and bay style of bunkers that exist today. Forty-five years later in February of 2013 the Saticoy Country Club Golf Course made the 100 Greatest Courses listed by state. It ranks No. 35 in the state of California. Great golf, then and now.