Battle Creek Country Club golf course lay-out

History of Battle Creek Country Club

In the early 1890's a nine hole golf course was laid out on a piece of land that today would be bounded by Chestnut and Emmett Streets, Orchard Ave. and Sherman Rd.

It was strictly a man's course and the only facilities were the pro shop and the caddie house. However, the game was then played much as it is today. The big event of the year was the annual inter-club match with the Kalamazoo Country Club. About 1905 or 1906, a movement was started to secure a site which would give the club enough room for 18 holes and a clubhouse in which they could hold social functions. 

A pool of $7,700 was subscribed to by a total of 21 early members of the club. The Country Club of Battle Creek was then organized and the $12,000 raised by the sale of stock to the members, together with the $7,700 pool enabled the officers to purchase property on W. Main St., which now is the site of Leila Arboretum on W. Michigan Ave. A small clubhouse was built on the south side of West Main and due to the contour of the land, most of the foundation consisted of piles driven into the ground. A combination porch and dining room was extended to the bank of the Kalamazoo River. All of the 112 members were active golfers and the facilities of the Country Club of Battle Creek were often strained to accommodate all those who wished to play golf. Finally, the land was not suitable for further development as no more than nine holes were built.

In the mid 1910's, Charles Bush, one of Battle Creek's leading citizens, felt that an 18-hole golf course was needed but his promotional efforts were unsuccessful. In the summer of 1918, a group of members decided to do something about it. They included Steve Rathbun, George Bent, George R. Rich, A.O. Jones, W.I. Fell, L.J. Montgomery and Dr. Walter T. Bobo. This group learned that Calmary Farm, which was owned by Carroll J. Post, was for sale and the Club president, Steve Rathbun, was appointed to negotiate for the purchase of the property. A price of $65,000 was agreed upon for the 120 acres and a down payment of $15,000 was made. This money was raised by means of a loan through the Old National Bank. Then a group composed of W.I. Fell, A.O. Jones, George R. Rich, L.J. Montgomery and Steve Rathbun acted as a bond selling committee which in a few days had sold $40,000 in bonds. Subsequently $98,000 was raised in this manner and the old Country Club site on West Main St. was sold to Mrs. Leila Y. Post Montgomery for $35,000. So in 1919, on the southeast shore of Goguac Lake, the Battle Creek Country Club was founded.

The founding fathers reached out to Scottish Golf Course Architect, Willie Park, Jr., who was also an accomplished player, equipment maker, and publisher of two golf instructional books. Park's design fees were $1,800 and the original length was 6,574 yards. Nine holes were completed in 1920 and the second nine in 1922 for a total cost of $55,818.20.

The original Post family home served as the original clubhouse, with proceeds from the sale of the adjacent lake lots paying for the necessary improvements. However, in 1947 planning for the current clubhouse was started with the three-phase project finally beginning in 1959 and was finished in 1966.

Since 1919, some of the greatest golfers in the game have played competitively at Battle Creek Country Club including Cary Middlecoff, Gene Littler, Roberto DeVicenzo, Tommy Bolt, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller, Larry Nelson, Dustin Johnson, and Jhonathon Vegas.