We hope you find the hours you spend with us enjoyable and relaxing. Our club has an unusual past, one which may surprise even some of its most long standing members. Here is how we came to be...
Early in the twentieth century a Scottish immigrant settled in Wichita Falls and became an established insurance executive. Fred Couper and his wife had both been avid golfers in Scotland so, after seeing a need for such a club in the area, Mr. Couper became the main instrument in the beginnings of a golfing club. The Wichita Falls Golf and Country Club was formed in 1914. It had a nine-hole golf course and a clubhouse on Victory Avenue purchased from the Lee Wilson family in the same year. The original clubhouse is now a private residence. The club enjoyed prosperous times into the 1920's and in 1923 borrowed approximately $145,000 to construct a new clubhouse designed by the local architectural firm of Voelcker and Dixon. At that point the club owned land all the way from Kell Boulevard to past what today we call Midwestern Parkway.
The oil boom continued to fuel the local economy through the twenties until the depression hit in 1929. Wichita Falls Golf and Country Club and its members weren't able to escape the bad times and in 1935 the club and its assets fell into the hands of Southwestern Life Insurance Company, the mortgage holder. These times were among the darkest of our club's history with only a few members able to carry on with their membership and minimum maintenance on the clubhouse, golf course and grounds of the club.
Finally, after many attempts by the club membership to recognize and purchase the club assets back from the insurance company, Solon Featherston, a local entrepreneur, purchased the club. He bought the entire club, golf course, furniture and fixtures, clubhouse grounds and equipment for $45,000 plus back taxes with a down payment of $5,000. Mr. Featherston operated the club profitably for eight years and during that time made many improvements to the clubhouse and the golf course. He hired Ray Garrett as Golf Professional and Course Superintendent in 1944 and by 1950, our club was one of the first in North Texas with bent grass golf greens.
In 1946 the Wichita Falls Country Club Operating Company was formed, and the company agreed to purchase the furniture and fixtures of the club and lease the building and grounds. A great effort was made in forming the operating club including a memorable "Save the Club" speech by Mrs. E. C. Norwood. Gene Clark was the first president of the operating company. In 1948 the Board of Governors asked Henry Grace to negotiate the sale of the club from Mr. Featherston back to the members. The agreed upon price was $100,000 less a 15% cash discount. The club later paid its $85,000 debt in less than two years due in large part to the slot machines which continued to operate from the days when Solon Featherston owned the club. Thus, J. P. "Pick" Coleman had the distinction of being president during the only time in the history of the club when it had no debt.
Since the 1948 acquisition, the club has sold two blocks of its original land. The first was in the mid 1950's when Solon Featherston repurchased the land between Speedway and the current northern most boundary (drainage ditch) of the club for real estate development. Finally, a narrow plot along the club's southern boundary was sold to the city in the 1960's for the widening of what we now call Midwestern Parkway.
The club moved into its present clubhouse in winter of 1966. The building was erected on the site of the 1923 building so during the demolition and construction projects, the club was operated out of a Quonset hut to the south of the building. The slab for that building was converted into our first two tennis courts after the completion of the clubhouse.
Many thanks to M. W. Blair, Henry Grace, J. P. Coleman, John Barnard, Sr., and Ray Garrett for helping develop this history.