Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series about the history of the Land Park Golf Course.
William Land Golf Course, the nine-hole course at 1701 Sutterville Road in William Land Park, is presently celebrating its 90th anniversary.
During a city meeting held on Jan. 10, 1923, it was announced that a plan had been adopted for the construction of this golf course and that an architect for the project was to be hired.
The course, which actually opened 91 years ago and is the oldest existing public golf course in Sacramento, was laid out by a notable golf course architect named William J. “Willie” Locke, of San Francisco.
Locke was also the architect for a San Francisco area course at Lake Merced.
William C. Watkins, who resided at 726 9th St. and was a golf teacher for the city parks department, served as the superintendent of the construction of the Land Park course. And he would later become the superintendent of the same course.
In providing an update regarding the construction of the course, The Sacramento Bee ran an article about the place in its Dec. 20, 1923 edition.
The article notes that work was being performed on the sand traps that were “placed around the greens to catch bad shots.” Additionally, it was mentioned in the article that the grass on the greens and fairways had reached a satisfactory level due to the then-recent rains.
According to the same article, the course, which was built without bunkers or traps across the fairways, was then expected to be ready for public use in May 1924.
The Bee, in an article in its May 6, 1924 edition, recognized that this plan had been maintained, as it was announced in that article that the course would make its public debut on Sunday, May 25, 1924.
On May 12, 1924, a meeting was held to discuss details regarding the then-soon-to-be-opened course.
In attendance at that meeting was the course’s committee: Harrison C. Bottorff, city manager; James Dean, city architect; Frederick N. Evans, city landscape gardener; George Sim, superintendent of recreations; James B. Alexander; Alex Kaiser; John H. Miller; Warren G. McMillin; Frank M. Newbert; Robert Swanston; L. Stuart Upson; and Frank H. Webster.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss plans that had been made for the construction of the course’s clubhouse.
Unfortunately, the lowest bid for the clubhouse project fell about $2,600 short of the amount that was available for the project.
In being faced with that dilemma, the committee, during that meeting, decided to raise additional funds for the construction of the clubhouse.
To accomplish that goal, a fundraising committee consisting of Swanston, Newbert, Miller and Alex Kaiser was organized.
In taking the first step to increase those funds, Swanston, who had already agreed to contribute $2,000 to the project, said that he would add another $250 to that amount.
For the purpose of avoiding a delay in the commencement of the building of the clubhouse, Swanston and Newbert underwrote the total amount to be raised for the project.
Work on the construction of the clubhouse, which had a total cost of about $7,800, began several days after the golf course committee met for their aforementioned meeting.
Although the clubhouse was still under construction at the time that William Land Golf Course had its grand opening, the goal to have the course ready for public use by May 25, 1924 was met.
On that day, brief opening ceremonies were held at the course, which was opened at 8 a.m. The speakers of the event were Bottorff and Upson.
Following the ceremonies, a foursome golf competition was held between the duo of Del Paso Country Club champion Jess G. Childs and K.B. McCarthy, Del Paso’s runner-up, and the team of Sacramento Golf Club champion C.P. Hamilton and Dan Banks, that club’s runner-up.
A golf competition between committees of the Sacramento Golf Club and the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce followed.
After the completion of the preliminary competitions, the course was opened to the public, as those who had been preregistered for that day began playing on the course at their given tee-off times.
Miller authored a William Land Golf Course themed article, which was published in the May 24, 1924 edition of The Bee.
In that article, Miller described the course, as follows: “It is an excellent course with grass greens and grass fairways. The greens are of the built-up type, well trapped, and are more or less sloping in character, with gentle undulation, which will make putting a matter of considerable skill. The grass upon them, for the most part, will hold the ball true to its line.”
In writing about the course’s first hole, Miller, in part, notes: “(It) is a straightaway for a distance of 505 yards, the longest fairway on the course. The fairway isn’t any too wide and a hook or slice will find the rough. This, however is of such character that the ball may be readily played and an experienced golfer will have no difficulty of getting out with one stroke.”
Accompanying Miller’s article is a sidebar, which provides the following per-hole yardage: 505 (No. 1), 382 (No. 2), 156 (No. 3), 338 (No. 4), 401 (No. 5), 297 (No. 6), 470 (No. 7), 195 (No. 8 ) and 426 (No. 9).
The original costs to play at the William Land Golf Course were 50 cents per day, $2 per month and $15 per year.