Wille Park Jr.
The clubhouse steps, circa 1908
“The Country Club of New Canaan reinforces a truth that many of us have known for years: that a club is far more than just a golf course, clubhouse, and land. That it’s really the members, and the traditions they create, that make a ‘club’ a club.” – E. Michael Johnson.
It all started when summer residents of the Oenoke Ridge felt the need for a club that would offer a convenient and pleasant resort for its members. According to the New Canaan Messenger of 1893, those feelings led to the formation of the Oenoke Field Club, located on the Bliss Estate just north of the present Presbyterian Church. The Club promoted the interests of lawn tennis and other outdoor sports. August 26th was the Club’s opening gala, with over 100 guests on the invite list. With just enough room to build two or three golf holes and some tennis courts, the Club soon outgrew its limited space and in 1897, moved to what is now known as Country Club Road.
The 208 acres St. John Farm, the home of the late Squire Richards, was rented and eventually purchased and became the site of the club and the farmhouse the original clubhouse. Improvements were made to the original farmhouse; a men’s locker room was added and a huge fireplace, capable of holding six foot length logs, was located in the large living room. The fireplace is believed to be buried inside an existing support wall located in the kitchen. The property and improvements to the clubhouse cost something over $5,000.The original nine holes were laid out by Willie Park Jr. during his first visit to the United States in the summer of 1895. The work on the original four holes was performed by the club members and commenced in early June and by the 4th of July 1897 the four holes were ready for play. The full nine holes measuring 2,677 yards were open by 1900. The second nine was designed by Walter Travis in the early 1920s, but were only partially completed when cost overages forced the club to abandon the project. The project was eventually completed in 1947 based largely on the original Travis design with additional holes designed by Alfred Tull after the club purchased additional land where holes 5, 14 and 15 are today.
The Club continued to grow in popularity and membership and eventually changed their name to The Country Club of New Canaan.