DELRAY BEACH GOLF CLUB:
A FLORIDA CLASSIC
Story by: Mike May
Amidst the hustle and bustle of south Florida, there’s a ‘golfing green lung’ which ‘snow birds’ from the North might label as ‘paradise’ and a Scotsman could call ‘Brigadoon,’ but for the late, great LPGA founding member Betty Jameson, it was her ‘home away from home’ -- the Delray Beach Golf Club (2200 Highland Avenue, Delray Beach, FL; 561-243-7380).
From the outset, the Delray Beach Golf Club has been a place where golfers can escape to find a sense of calm, peace and serenity. And, it remains that way for many people who live in the neighborhoods that surround this municipal golf course that has been a recreational outlet for thousands of golfers since 1926.
Designed by the legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, the Delray Beach GC -- www.delraybeachgolfclub.com -- is one of the 53 golf courses that make up the Florida Historic Golf Trail. The par-72 layout has stood the test of time and remains as enjoyable to play now as it was back in the 1920s. Ross’ concept of building raised greens protected by sand bunkers was a great idea in the 1920s and remains relevant to this day.
The city of Delray Beach states that the course was founded in 1923 when it purchased the land for the course, but the course didn’t officially open until 2:00 pm on January 1, 1926 (to be precise!). On that day, there were only nine holes. Those nine holes, the course’s current back nine, were used until the course was closed during World War II. After reopening in 1945, Delray Beach city leaders built another nine holes. Golf course architect Dick Wilson was hired to oversee the project. By 1950, the Delray Beach GC had 18 holes. In the 1950s, golf journalists were so impressed that they listed the Delray Beach GC as one of America’s top ten courses. In the 1960s, Red Lawrence and Robert Bruce Harris were hired to reconfigure parts of the course, where water now comes into play on seven holes.
Betty Jameson was always filled with pride when she was asked about the appeal of the Delray Beach GC.
“It was accurate in measurement, had excellent fairways and exceptional drainage,” once remarked Jameson, who won the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open.
“We are an asset to the community with a full-service restaurant and offering five sets of tees, which allow all type of skill levels to enjoy the course,” notes Tommi Ylijoki, the current pro at the Delray Beach GC. “We have one of the most active men's and ladies golf associations, an expanding junior program, and our Friday night skins game is a long-standing tradition.”
Because of the sandy loam soil that dominates the terrain at the Delray Beach GC, you get very little fairway roll, which increases the course’s length, which ranges from 5,189 yards (white tees) to 6,907 yards from the tips (gold tees).
Another interesting aspect of the Delray Beach GC is the group of golfers named the ‘Inner Circle,’ which has been playing at the club since 1949.
“It is generally accepted that this group was, in fact, the first ‘seniors’ group in Florida,” adds Ylijoki. “And, not surprisingly, the ‘Circle’ is still strong and walks nine holes on Mondays and Fridays."
The sense of elegance and class that emanates from the Delray Beach GC is also present in the clubhouse that exudes the charm of the 1920s and ‘30s from the outside, while having modern-day amenities on the inside.
So, are you ready to escape to south Florida’s ‘golfing green lung’ where you will discover a sense of calm, peace, and serenity?
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The writer of this story, Mike May, is a south Florida-based golf writer. Mike can be reached at email@example.com
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