The Woodstock Country Club

The Mount Peg Course 1895-1906

By Robert Holt

Copyright. Woodstock History Center.

Copyright. Woodstock History Center.

One of the oldest continuously operating golf courses in the country...

The year 2015 marked the 120th anniversary of the Woodstock Country Club, making it one of the oldest continuously operating golf courses in the country.  Did you know that the Woodstock Country Club had its beginnings atop Mt. Peg?  It was in October of 1895 that Dr. F. B. Harrington came to stay at the Woodstock Inn.  (The old Inn – built in 1892.)  When he discovered that there was no course on which to practice his newly acquired golfing skills, he prevailed upon Arthur B. Wilder, the Inn Manager, for help.  Wilder led him to the bare ridge-top on Mt. Peg, where Henry Daniels and Benton Pinney pastured their livestock and Dr. Harrington proceeded to demonstrate the techniques necessary to manipulate the strange golfing implements.*

Wilder must have been quite impressed by the new sport, as events transpired rather quickly to the point where, on the 18th of that same October, the Woodstock Country Club was formed with J. Foster Rhodes as president.  Forty-six charter members paid two dollars annual dues, allowing the club to rent the hilltop pasture from Daniels and Pinney for 5 dollars.  The new golfers were no doubt eager to play the following spring as the last of the winter’s snow still dotted the slopes of Mt. Peg when the foursome of Edward Dana, Bill Hewitt, A.B. Wilder, and Joe Dana were captured on film teeing off on the fourth hole, nicknamed “The Spring”.

The unique character of Woodstock’s terrain prompted this report in the August 1897 edition of “The Golfer” magazine:  “Those of us who have been used to the flat links of the lowlands would be a bit doubtful at first as to the best method of playing around a course zigzagging over a mountain side.  But an hour’s experience will familiarize us with its perplexities.  The uncertainties attendant to driving a ball up hills and across slopes are more than offset by the fascinations that go with making a longer drive than ever we made before down a hill that tumbles away beneath us like a toboggan slide.”

Golf on the mountain wasn’t destined to last very long.  With the 1901 purchase of 5 acres of the Townsend farm, (where the 3rd green sits today), the club started to gradually move down off the hills.   By 1906, the process was complete, and golfing has been confined to the valley floor ever since.

*   Labbance, Bob; The Centennial History of the Woodstock Country Club; 1995