Golfing on Mount Peg

Dr. H.B. Harrington came to Woodstock in June 1895. He arrived at the recently-built Victorian-style Woodstock Inn in a horse-drawn stage coach. That day, according to local lore, he brought with him a bag filled with unusual objects that piqued the curiosity of those around him. The unusual objects turned out to be golf clubs, and with them, he started a new sports craze in town.

In 1895, Woodstock did not have a golf course, so Dr. Harrington took his clubs and went to Mount Peg to hit some balls. Some of his friends, who had come to watch, were enticed into trying the game for themselves. Once they tried it, they were hooked.

The rugged terrain of Mount Peg presented some challenges and made finding balls difficult. However, the newly-formed group of enthusiasts were determined to solve the problem. They raised $5.00 to compensate the land’s owner for any damages that might occur; they cut thistles and stray vegetation; and they sunk tomato cans in the ground for holes.

 Less than a year later, on April 25, 1896, the Woodstock Country Club opened a “links” golf course in that cow pasture. As the photograph below shows, Mount Peg in the late 19th and early 20th century was relatively open and clear of trees.  

Golfing on Mount Peg

Golfing on Mount Peg

At the Club’s first annual meeting, in June 1896, it was decided to extend the golf course to include nine holes, and the names of fifteen ladies were proposed as potential members.  During 1896, dues were $2.00, and the club’s membership was about 60 people.

Within a few years, a decision was made to purchase the land, consisting of 70-80 acres, to remove the cows, and to make improvements to the golf course. On July 20, 1899, a clubhouse was opened. The “club room” was about 20’x25’. In the back, there were lockers, closets, a kitchen, and a serving room.

As one can imagine, keeping the fairways trimmed on a hilly, uneven course was a Herculean task. In July 1901, the decision was made to employ a flock of thirty-five hungry sheep. While the idea of having sheep serve as lawn mowers is intuitively appealing, the sheep had ideas of their own as to where and what they wanted to eat, and there were some incidents of the sheep wandering a mile or so away and having to be repatriated to the golf course where they were supposed to be dining.

Today, looking at the heavily-forested hillside which is Mount Peg, it is difficult to imagine playing golf there. For those who are interested in learning more about this early golf course, historian/surveyor Bob Holt will be leading a History Hike in which hikers will trek to some of the key areas of the former golf course and see historic images of what it looked like.

The History Hike, which is organized by the Woodstock History Center, will take place on Saturday, August 10, at 9 a.m. Admission is free; however, advanced registration is required as space is limited.  To register, please call: (802) 457-1822 (Extension 2).

Matthew Powers