SANFORD’S MAYFAIR COUNTRY CLUB:
ROOTED IN THE LATE 1800s

Story by: Mike May

Golf in Sanford, Florida can trace its roots back to the late 1800s, when Henry Sanford lived in the area.  Back in 1870, Sanford purchased a 20,000 acre tract of land and in 1878, he sold a portion of that big piece of real estate to Charles Armory.  Soon after the purchase was complete, Armory, a retired sea captain, transformed the property by clearing much of the land, planting a number of citrus trees, inserting a double row of oak trees, and building a ship-shaped house.  Those oak trees remain today and actually line the entrance to what is now the Mayfair Country Club in Sanford.  That original house is also intact and is part of the clubhouse of the Mayfair Country Club.

Construction of this golf course began in 1922.  The labor force for the golf course was a 50-man crew. 

Construction of this golf course began in 1922.  The labor force for the golf course was a 50-man crew.  Later that year, the first nine holes were opened.  Initially, this course was called the Sanford Country Club.

This course’s historical roots are a big reason why it is one of 54 golf courses in Florida that comprise the Florida Historic Golf Trail.

Another appealing aspect of the Mayfair is the condition of the course.

Today, the course is called the Mayfair Country Club (3536 Country Club Road, Sanford, Florida) and it features 18 holes.  This par-70 layout features four sets of tees that range from 5,000 to 6,400 yards.

“Our people who work here make visitors feel like this is their home course,” said Pete Sands, general manager, Mayfair Country Club.  “The atmosphere here makes everybody feel welcome.”

Another appealing aspect of the Mayfair is the condition of the course – 24/7/365.

“Our superintendent, Chris Zinna, is an outside-the-box thinker who is a magic man on course maintenance,” added Sands.  “Our greens are always PGA Tour quality.  Area golfers love our greens.”

It didn’t take long for this course to attract two of the game’s biggest stars for an exhibition.  In 1927, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen traveled to Sanford to compete in an 18-hole exhibition match at the club.  It was a match play competition that day which was over and done with after 14 holes.  It was not Sarazen’s day as ‘The Haig’ defeated ‘The Squire’ 5 and 4.  By the end of their playing careers, Hagen had won 11 majors and Sarazen had won seven majors.

In 1927, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen traveled to Sanford to compete in an 18-hole exhibition match at the club. It was not Sarazen’s day as ‘The Haig’ defeated ‘The Squire’ 5 and 4.  

By the early 1950s, this course hosted an annual PGA Tour event from 1955-1958 -- The Mayfair Inn Open.  A number of well-known pros, such as Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Canada’s Moe Norman, played in this pro tourney.  The Mayfair Inn Open is where Palmer won his first professional check for $528 in December 1956.  The Mayfair Inn Open had a short shelf-life as a pro tournament, as they say, but it was brought back for area professionals and local golfers in 2018.  It now attracts roughly 40 pros and more than 100 amateurs.

Also, Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was also a frequent visitor to the Mayfair Country Club.

Another regular event at the Mayfair is the Points Game, which is a skins game held every Saturday morning. 

A pair of hurricanes that swept through central Florida in the early 2000s led to the loss of many of the old oak trees that were dripping with Spanish moss and had helped build an atmosphere which was symbolic of old Florida.  Now, the course is more open, which is great for higher handicap players, but the approaches to the green still retain a somewhat high degree of difficulty.  The course does have a strong Floridian trait, as more than half of the holes have a water hazard.

After playing golf, enjoy a meal and a drink at the 1922 Grill, which provides “great food and ambience at its finest,” according to the course’s website (www.mayfairgolf.com).


To secure a tee time at the Mayfair Country Club, call the pro shop (407-322-2531).  It will give you a chance to play the same course where Arnie won his first check and where ‘The Haig’ once defeated ‘The Squire.’

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