Club History


MT. KISCO COUNTRY CLUB

“Rich in family tradition and dedicated to sportsmanship at all levels”

 

Mt. Kisco Country Club is the by-product of two rich traditions that date back to 1917. The Town of Mt. Kisco welcomed its first golf course in July, 1917, on the former Daly estate property adjacent to the present course, just north of today’s front nine. It was called Mt. Kisco Golf Club, 6100 yards in length, and was the site of the 1923 Westchester Open, won by George McLean with rounds of 74 and 70=144, with Joe Turnesa, two strokes behind in second place.

In the early 1920s John Lawrence purchased the famous Annandale Farms from the estate of the late Moses Taylor, one of the nation’s leading bankers and industrialist from 1855 to 1882. Taylor had controlling interests in many companies that evolved into corporate giants like Citibank, the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, and several steel companies. He played a major role in generating the financing for the Union’s struggle to win the Civil War. Annandale Farms was Taylor’s pride and joy where he raised showcase bulls and cattle, and entertained the Astors and many other notables. He died in 1882 but his family carried on his business interests and used Annandale Farms until it was sold to Lawrence.

Lawrence developed plans for Lawrence Farms, a 185-acre residential community that would also have a 165-acre country club as a community focus. The concept for Lawrence Farms Country Club was to include golf, tennis, horseback riding, and a lake for swimming and skating. The Club officially opened in 1927 but did take a few years to reach full completion.

Lawrence wanted to retain some of the old farmhouse atmosphere that had made the estate so notable. He started with a club house for which he converted an old Annandale barn into a two story white brick building, flanked by two one story wings on each side. Lawrence was also sensitive to the Taylor traditions and did not disturb the tombstones of Taylor’s prize bulls, located where the circle driveway exists in front of the club house. Earlier members fondly referred to the area as the “graveyard”, but the tombstones were later removed for ambience reasons at the request of new members.

The Golf Course

Lawrence wanted the golf course to be special, so he turned to Tom Winton, a famous Scottish- born greens keeper turned golf architect. During the 1920s, Winton constructed Mill River Country Club in Stratford, CT, and the well-known Westchester courses of Mohansic, Sprain Lake, and Maple Moor. Winton started his design for Lawrence Farms in 1926. He became known as “the peer of all links’ architects” and he molded Lawrence’s golf course into 115 acres of rolling acres set in a natural depression between low wooded hills, well-bunkered greens, and a persistent stream in play for 13 holes.

The Lawrence Farms golf course opened for play in 1930. The course hosted a number of local events and some international competitions in the 1930s. The club’s first professional, Bill Goldbeck, was a talented competitor, winning the 1935 Westchester Open by a six-stroke margin over the reigning PGA champion Paul Runyan and defending Westchester Open champion Willie McFarlane.

In the late 1930s, it was given a maintenance check by another golf course icon, A. W. Tillinghast. During World War II, the old Mt. Kisco Golf Club was forced to close and most of its members joined the Lawrence Farms Country Club. These new members had sufficient influence to change the name of Lawrence Farms Country Club to the Mt. Kisco Country Club.

Today’s golf course has the same Winton architectural plan, except at the 17th green, which has been moved back and to the left, behind the creek.

The Club House

The Lawrence Farms Country Club was designed for families, so the club house had to be roomy and comfortable to meet the needs of the first members. A major feature was a spacious ballroom that reportedly had the largest club dance floor in Northern Westchester. That ballroom was located where the current men’s lounge and locker room exist today. The Horace Greeley High School proms were held in this ballroom.

The first bar, the typical U-shape, was located in front of the fireplace in today’s grill room. There was also a modest grill room. The men’s locker room was located at the present ladies locker room site, while the ladies locker room was above the lounge in the central section of the house.

There was a porch out the back that overlooked the original practice putting green and two tennis courts. In the 1970s, the construction of more tennis courts caused the movement of the practice green to its current location.

During the 1960s, there were several major renovations that expanded and rearranged the club house facilities. Other major renovations occurred in the 1990s that resulted in today’s facilities including  the current pro shop and the veranda.

The Swimming Pool

Even the club’s pool has an interesting history. In the early days, it was one of the major attractions of the Club. The first pool was the largest in Northern Westchester. The pool was continuously fed by a fast-flowing stream originating in pure springs, so that there was a constant change of fresh clean water at all times. It was unique because it had a sand bottom and had a beach of  "gleaming Long Island sand in which children take special delight”,  all in the area of the existing pool facilities.

Other Interesting Facts

Horseback riding was a major feature of living in the Lawrence Farms community, so riding stables were constructed at the site where the current maintenance equipment is stored. The existing building was also home to the Westchester Playhouse during the 1930s and attracted people from all over Westchester as well as New York City.

Since its opening in 1930, there have been only four golf professionals at Mt. Kisco. The first was William Goldbeck from 1930 to 1962. He was followed by Bob Johnson for the years 1963 through 1979. Nick Manolios followed for the years 1980 through 2011.  Chris Case is the current Head Professional at Mount Kisco.

In the 1930s, the barn that currently serves as the club’s maintenance facility, was a summer stock playhouse.  Many notables, including Henry Fonda, appeared there.