Welcome to New Haven
New Haven Country Club was founded in 1898 as one of the very early golf courses built in the United States. Yale professor Theodore Woolsey is credited with being the driving force behind the club’s incorporation and much of its early development. Ironically, Woolsey and the other charter members chose to locate the club outside of New Haven at least in part to create a distance buffer from Yale students who had over-crowded the original downtown New Haven Golf Club.
Land was purchased next to beautiful Lake Whitney which is a natural lake preserved by the New Haven Water company. The original golf course was laid out, and construction of the clubhouse began in 1899. Also a suspension footbridge was built across Lake Whitney to provide access from Whitney Avenue and the trolley line. With America’s new found passion for golf the beautiful setting was a recipe for success. In the spring of 1900, The Connecticut Magazine wrote:
“…New Haven Country Club is today the leading social organization of the city. A handsome stone clubhouse was erected last fall of the Old English pattern similar to the clubhouses on the courses in England and Scotland. A restaurant famous for its excellence is maintained the year round. In the clubhouse, far from the noise and bustle of the city, many of the largest social entertainments of the smart set are held.”
Some of the New Haven notables who enjoyed Club membership in the early years included Eli Whitney III (grandson to the inventor), Henry Sargent, Winthrop Bushnell, Frank Bigelow, Henry Hotchkiss, Walter Camp and U.S. President, William Howard Taft.
By 1920 it was decided that the golf course itself could benefit from a redesign. Two-time British Champion, Willie Park, Jr. was selected as architect. And this became one of the most significant and auspicious decisions in the Club’s history. Park designed a total of 114 courses around the world, but only personally supervised construction on a handful. NHCC was fortunate enough to be one of them, and Park’s passion for putting inspired our famously rolling and difficult greens.
Regarding the overall course layout and design, Del Kinney, former Executive Director of the Connecticut State Golf Association remarked, “New Haven is very demanding and sneaky tough, but a very fair test. In fact, it’s the best in the state from the perspective of being both fun to play and challenging.”
Over the years Club members have enjoyed a wide range of fun activities such as polo, boating, croquet, archery, trap shooting, swimming and platform tennis. But always at the heart is the tradition of our wonderful golf course. Couple that golfing heritage with a beautiful clubhouse and a membership of community leaders and you can appreciate the richness of our history which makes New Haven Country Club a very special place.