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A Brief History of Northampton Country Club

The First Twenty Five Years 1899-1924

The game of golf was first taken up in the Easton, Pennsylvania area when the Easton Golf Players Club was formed near the end of the 19th Century. Mr. & Mrs. William O. Hay vacationed in the Adirondacks where they saw people playing the game called "golf". When they returned to Easton, William Hay met Roosevelt, a brother of William Michler, Easton's well-known architect, and told him about the game he had observed. "Will," said Mr. Michler, "we should have that game in Easton and also a club house." He pulled out a card from his pocket and sketched a two-room club-house. At the end of the first twenty five years, the Country Club of Northampton County was a well-managed, financially sound, sports and social entity. The facilities that had been provided during this period remain today as the heart of our present day Club. The building was expanded into our present day Clubhouse. The eighteen-hole golf course is still our present day course after many changes.

The Second Twenty Five Years 1924-1949

The Country Club redesigned and rebuilt the golf course, increased the size of the Clubhouse by extending the building on the north side to its present size and constructed a swimming pool during the second twenty-five year period of its existence. The Clubhouse expansion was accomplished during the early days of the Great Depression. The finances of the Club were quite precarious throughout the depression years as membership declined and interest expense on the Certificates of Ownership and bank loans was high. The Club was forced to reduce operating costs by cutting salaries and reducing the number of employees. Just when the Country was starting to recover from the Depression, World War II started in 1941. Once again, active membership declined as members served in the armed forces. Operation of the Club was impacted by reduced income and by less utilization of Club facilities due to the shortage of gasoline, liquor and supplies. After the war ended, the Club was able to return to normal operation. As the membership and revenues increased, the Club was able to replace needed equipment and a long range improvement program for the Clubhouse was started. The Country Club was now a stronger and better organization after weathering the historic periods of the Great Depression and World War II.

The Third Twenty Five Years 1949-1974

No major capital improvements were made to the Country Club facilities in 1949 through 1974. The most significant expenditure was for the installation of an automatic sprinkler system for watering fairways and greens and a new well in 1964. Also, a new diving and a wading pool were constructed at the swimming pool in 1958. The installation of a paddle tennis court in 1968 introduced a new winter sport to the Club. This winter sport met with immediate success and was an asset to the Club since it attracted members to use the Club during the slow winter months. This period of the Club history was a good one for the major Club sports. The golf program for both men and women was most successful under the direction of Ken Milne, the long time Golf Professional at the Club from 1943 to 1960, and then under Billy Booe, his successor. The tennis program was reactivated by Jack Bowers as Pro in 1956. Interest in tennis continued at a high level when Art Luckock took over in 1960. Attendance at the swimming pool reached a season high of 6348 in 1957, and the swimming program for both children and adults was the most active ever under the capable Pool Director, Ted Martz. This period was also one of growth in the Club membership with the establishment of a 600 maximum in 1958. The Membership Committee had a long waiting list of applicants. The Club Players entertained the membership with successful productions each year, starting in 1956, after a few years of inactivity. Also, the "Country Club News" was published in 1956 through 1960 after not producing a paper since 1947. On a sad note, Joseph Merlo, the popular and capable Club Manager for 19 years, retired on May 1, 1966 because of ill health. His successor was Frank Meskill. Operation of the Clubhouse was adversely affected in the winters of 1973-1974 and 1974-1975 because of shortage of fuel oil. This shortage was the result of production cut-backs by the OPEC oil producing countries. The Club was forced to reduce the temperature in the Clubhouse to 68 degrees and to close the Clubhouse for one month in those years.

The Fourth Twenty Five Years 1974-1999

The Board of Governors and officers of the Country Club recognized that the aging facilities after 75 years would require larger expenditures than normal for renovations, improvements and capital projects to maintain a quality and outstanding Club. The financing was accomplished on a pay-as-you-go basis during the early stages of this program, from 1975 to 1992. Some of the more important projects completed during this period were as follows: conversion of the North Porch into a dining facility, alterations to 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th holes to eliminate hitting across the public right-of-way, construction of four additional all-weather tennis courts and installation of flood lights on two original courts, construction of an additional paddle tennis court with aluminum deck, installation of cart paths, construction of a tennis pro shop, updating and modernization of the golf course sprinkler system, complete revision of the golf driving range, construction of a new maintenance building, installation of a new well and construction of two Har-Tru tennis courts. A Long Range Planning Committee was formed in 1986 to identify the long term facility needs of the Club and to establish a program of correcting these needs. After six years of deliberations, this Committee, along with the help of a consultant, developed a step by step program of major alterations and improvements. The cost of the program was well in excess of two million dollars. As a result, long term financing became necessary and a line of credit was established at Lafayette Bank. The implementation of this program started in 1992 with the construction of a fire tower and code updates and a new swimming pool. In 1993-1994 major renovations were made to the Main Floor of the Clubhouse with all new furnishings. In 1994-1995, renovations were made to the lower level containing the Grill Room and Men's and Ladies' Locker Rooms. A new sit-down bar and lounge were added and the Grill and Windsor Rooms were refurbished. In 1996, the pool house and snack bar were completely renovated. An additional pool dining area was added as well as an expanded patio. The roof and facade were made to appear similar to the Clubhouse. As the 100th anniversary approached, the Country Club members had the benefit not only of modern, improved facilities but also the services of a young, energetic and innovative staff dedicated to maintaining the best sports and social programs. Pierre Bohemond had recently succeeded the popular James Gieniec as General Manager and was ready to show his skill and expertise in running the Clubhouse and associated facilities. Gary Hardin, Golf Professional, replaced Roger Stern in 1989 and he and his staff continued to direct an active and successful program for the golfers. In order to increase activity in the racquet sports programs, the Board arranged to have the Northwood Racquet Club supervise these sports at the Club. Usage of the new swimming pool continued to increase under the supervision of Bruce Mika. The N.C.C. Ladies' Bowling League and the Mixed Bowling League, provided an opportunity for the members who wished to stay active during the winter months. The social programs were designed for members of all ages and interests. The Youth Committee provided a broad range of activities to encourage usage of Club facilities by the younger members with the goal of enhancing the family atmosphere of the Club. The Entertainment Committee provided an interesting and well attended program of picnics, dinner dances and special events. The Northampton Country Club, a thriving, vibrant organization as it neared its 100th anniversary, was well prepared to provide recreation and good fellowship for its members into the next century.

Information for this history section came from W. Julian Parton's History of The Northampton Country Club 1899-1999. This book is available for reading at our Clubhouse.