Gouverneur Country Club – A Short History by Dan Caruso
B. O. Kinney as a representative of the newly formed Gouverneur Country Club finalized the purchase of the Manning farm at Hailesboro on 6-25-30. He loaned the club $2,500 for the initial purchase of the 100 acres located about 3 miles from downtown Gouverneur. Sherrill Sherman, golf architect from Utica, was immediately engaged “to get the grounds ready for golf purposes. ” Although some play was noticed during the fall of 1930, the club did not officially open until 1931.
Fred Manning had owned the farm and was part of the first crew involved in the construction of the golf course. His home stood where the ninth green is currently located. With the absence of tractors, horses were used to pull a scoop to move large amounts of dirt to build the greens and sand traps (There is a picture of this in the restaurant). The whole area was a meadow with ditches running through the low parts of the course. Although still known for its rolling greens, in their early years the greens had more and larger mounds – you were doing a lot of “up and down putting.” Through the years some of the mounds were removed.
Ken Price who lived across the street and George Burge were the two men who initially worked the course. For mowing the fairways, the “boys” found an old Chevrolet chassis with a motor and built a seat on it to pull a five-gang mower. After a while they also built a garage for their “ tractor.” The greens were mowed by hand. It was very hard work because of the heavy dew on the grass and the close mowing required. It took both men all morning to mow the greens.
Mike Wranesh along with other young boys of Hailesboro was employed for 15 cents an hour to weed the greens. This involved using a knife to dig them out. These were long tough hours – one or two hours was enough to tire a person, even a strong young boy.
Originally the club had planned on building a new modern clubhouse but changed plans due to the expense and the economic downturn in the country. The current clubhouse, which is the original farm barn, was remodeled and officially opened on June 22, 1932. At purchase, the cows were down stairs and the hay was still in the haymow on the second floor. On the first floor, they took the stanchions out and used it for storage until they built the locker rooms, lounge and pro shop. The second floor remained vacant but since has had two major renovations which included building a restaurant, kitchen and dance floor.
It was traditional for the club to open on Memorial Day weekend with a dinner dance and close the season on Labor Day weekend. This was the typical season until World War II, when the club closed down due to the rationing of gasoline which limited the amount of optional automobile trips.
© Gouverneur Country Club