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The game of golf has a long, satisfying history in the Berkshires



Seventh-green view at Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort

Photo by Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort

Our Berkshires, from Great Barrington to Williamstown, is not lacking in historic golf clubs, many around for at least 100 years and their courses designed by luminaries of early American golf course architecture, from Albert Warren “Tillie” Tillinghast to Donald Ross.

“Most county golfers do not realize how very fortunate they are,” says Larry Premeriani, a member of Wyantenuck Country Club for 50 years. “They can play at magnificent courses such as Wyantenuck, Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Berkshire Hills, Wahconah, Waubeeka and Taconic for very reasonable fees.” 

Almost all Berkshire courses belong to the Allied Golf Association, with various annual tournaments held at the member clubs. Says Premeriani: “Having played in these tournaments over the years has given me the ability to enjoy first-class courses and enabled me to make some great friends from other Berkshire towns.”

The long tenure of Berkshire golf courses and clubs is due in no small part to the influx of wealthy summer vacationers and second homeowners at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, a trend that has carried on for decades. The area was easy to reach by train and, later, automobile. High-summer months of living in relative luxury was matched by beautiful countryside and sublime weather. Today, the clubs (for a price, of course) welcome all to enjoy a round of golf, a dip in the pool, a game of tennis or cards, a single malt in the locker room, or dinner on the terrace. They also host various tournaments, some of them fundraisers for charitable organizations.

Jack Dahrouge, a member of Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, says Berkshire County has a tight-knit group of golfers. “They tend to follow anyone from the county and how they play. I can recall being in Great Barrington and someone asking me about playing in the Massachusetts Amateur tournament. This was someone I hardly knew off the golf course, yet he knew all about what I had just done. It’s kind of cool.”

Golf in Great Barrington dates back to the summer of 1894, when several local gentlemen went to a Colonel William Brown’s pasture and, with his permission, put three vegetable cans in the ground for cups. Yes, vegetable cans. The next summer, six cans were used. From such simple beginnings, by-laws were drawn up and officers were elected for Locustwood Golf Club, which moved in 1899 and expanded to nine holes on the banks of the Housatonic River. After changing its name to Wyantenuck—the name the Mohegan Native American tribe gave to the river—the club built three tennis courts. 

In 1915, it moved to West Sheffield Road in Great Barrington, where a horse barn still makes a unique hangout for members. Land swapping with neighbors allowed enough space for Robert Pryde of New Haven, Connecticut, to build a championship course with mountain views. Various changes were made in the next 75 years, notably by architect Charles Banks, who reworked the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes in the late-1920s, adding his own flair for curved sand bunkers and placing the 17th green in a sunken area.

“The course is appreciated by those who take the game seriously,” says Tom “Sully” Sullivan, Wyantenuck’s head golf professional. “The views are stunning, especially on the front nine, and we have hosted some notable people during our history, from Babe Ruth to pros of today.” Non-members can test their skills at the club’s annual member-guest tournament played in late August.

Around the same time golf was introduced to Great Barrington, the craze was taking hold up the road in Stockbridge, and a club bearing the town’s name was founded on September 26, 1895, which makes it one of the oldest golf courses in the U.S. Various open stretches of land were known locally as the “Adams Meadow” and the “Dwight Meadow.” A second nine holes were added in 1900, the same year the club was incorporated, and in 1901 the 18-hole layout was opened. It was for many years Massachusetts’s only 18-hole course west of Springfield.

In 1931, the club purchased 32 acres from James L. Karrick and shortly after, a new course was laid out and completed in 1934. It has remained essentially the same, with minor renovations such as shaping, contouring, refinements, and the installation of an irrigation system in late 1994. Tennis was introduced in the early 1920s, with five courts now in total.

Stockbridge Golf Club’s course is practically in the middle of town, with golfers parking behind town hall and walking down an incline to start their rounds. The fifth is one of the well-known holes of the area, as the little par-three’s tee shot is played over the Housatonic River to a small green that is reached by foot or cart over a suspension bridge.

Stockbridge holds a number of tournaments that are accessible to non-members, one of the most popular being a mixed-scotch event with teams comprised of one male and one female player. This year’s tournament will be held on July 31.

As we move farther up along Route 7, Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield is a fine example of the work of Tillinghast. Considered one of the most talented and innovative of early-American golf-course designers, he laid out several of the legendary courses in the U.S, including the courses at Baltusrol, Bethpage Black, and Winged Foot, venues for numerous majors over the years. Tillinghast was one of the most prolific architects in golf’s history, working on 265 courses. Berkshire Hills was designed in 1924 with financial backing from influential members of the community and also from the General Electric Company. Some 120 acres of land was purchased, and Tillinghast was hired to design an 18-hole course, completed in 1928. In 2009, the construction of a new, large clubhouse with picturesque views was realized. The club’s present gardener, Dan Pytko, makes the grounds explode with color during the spring, summer, and fall.

“It was said that this is one of the biggest tracts of land that Tillinghast had to work with,” says Keith Brown, a member who took two visitors on a playing tour of the routing. One of Tillinghast’s notable design elements, a double-dogleg par five, is evidenced at the tenth hole, which starts from an elevated tee and snakes down the hill to a large green protected by bunkers. It’s indicative of the skill “Tillie” had in working with the land to create great holes.

Located a few well-struck tee shots from the Vermont border, Taconic Golf Club, is a semi-private club that reserves some tee times for daily-fee play. The club, which is on land owned by Williams College (the course is home to the school’s men’s and women’s golf teams), dates back to 1896. The course is a combination of spectacular scenery and challenging routing. The present-day course was designed in 1927 by Wayne Stiles and renovated in 2009 by Gil Hanse of Hanse Golf Course Design, Golf Magazine’s 2009 Architect of the Year. The club was chosen to host the 2016 Massachusetts Amateur Golf Championship from July 11-16.

On this day, members and their guests are drinking in the views, as well as a few beverages, and enjoying small talk on a patio outside the clubhouse. Taconic’s course features some elevation changes and is impeccably conditioned. Two through four are as pretty a brace of holes as you will find anywhere. Golfers move up and down the land with ease, in full view of wildflowers blooming in profusion off the playing surface. The ninth hole is a dramatic par three that begins from an elevated tee and ends in a grassy bowl.

The Berkshires is also home to several other historic courses, such as the elegant Country Club of Pittsfield, designed by Donald Ross and where Willie Anderson, winner of the U.S. Open four times, once served as club pro. The club, which dates back to 1897, had its golf course upgraded and renovated in 2003, adding over 25 new bunkers and redoing all others.

The course at the Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort in Lenox was laid out by Stiles and John Van Kleek in 1926. Built during the Gilded Age, the hotel welcomed wealthy industrialists and writers of the day. Frederick Law Olmstead, the man who created New York City’s Central Park, designed the grounds of what was then a mansion called Wyndhurst, owned by furniture baron John Sloane.

Wahconah Country Club in Dalton, built in 1920, is where the great Bobby Jones played his last round of golf in 1948. He met with his good friend and Wachonah Country Club member Bill O’Connell to play a match with Bruce Crane and Rankin Furey. In recording this event, Rene Clarke rendered a water painting of the foursome on the sixth green.

The original painting and a letter from Bobby Jones indicating: “This was my last effort, sorry it was not a better one” hangs at the United States Golf Association’s Museum in Far Hills, N.J. Wahconah Country Club was allowed to make a copy of the painting and the letter for display. Individuals will have a chance to view them on July 18, when Wahconah hosts its annual United Cerebral Palsy Golf Tournament in support of under-funded adult and children’s programming.

On par with its past, the game of golf in the Berkshires continues with vigor and sporting distinction to this day.

Check out Tee Time, for 15 great historic courses to play this summer!

Photos by Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort, Berkshire Eagle Achives, Country Club of Pittsfield

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Grab a glass of wine and join us in exploring the basics of drawing the figure with artist and Aldrich staff member Noah Steinman. With a live model as inspiration, use a variety of materials such...

Cost: $12; $10.80 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Jampa Mackenzie Stewart of Valley Spirit and Wellness Center in Washington Depot, CT presents TaiChi & Meditation an Introduction.  Join us for a...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Margaret Ferguson

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Thursday, Jan. 24 Author Talk: Stephanie Land - Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Maid is showing up on almost every best of, must read, don't miss list of...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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Members and guests are invited to join us for the Election of Trustees, followed by an artist talk by eight photographers with work in the current exhibit. Visit our website at...

Cost: 0

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Ave.
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
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Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
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We invite families to drop-in and enjoy interactive pop-up activity stations, gallery games, and art projects around the KMA.  Get inspired by Outrageous Ornament: Extreme Jewelry in the 21st...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Calling all fans of Scottish food and Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander series. Don your tartan, make like Jamie’s clan motto and be ready! You’re invited to an amazing Outlander...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Friday, Jan. 25 Wilton Library Mini Golf Tourney for Adults, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The kids had so much fun at last year’s Mini Golf fundraiser, that Wilton Library is holding one for adults only...

Cost: $50 and up

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
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Original members of the Billy Joel Band featuring Liberty DeVitto on drums, Richie Cannata on saxophone and Russell Javors on rhythm guitar. The band recorded and toured extensively with Billy Joel...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Born from humble beginnings in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT The Alpaca Gnomes cut their teeth in the neighborhood bar scene by playing marathon shows filled with originals and a wide...

Cost: $15.00 - $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Jeanne Moore
Telephone: (203) 831-5004
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
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Are you a lifelong with a passion for sharing history? Find out about becoming a Museum Docent! Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Bring the baby and enjoy a lively conversation inspired by the art on view. Enjoy light snacks while socializing with newly-made friends. Crying babies welcome and activities provided for older...

Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

Winter Guided Hike @ Woodcock Nature Center Saturday January 26th, 10-11:30am, FREE ​ Join Mr. Sam for a hike where we'll investigate whats going on in nature in the winter season and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodcock Nature Center
56 Deer Run Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Woodcock Nature Center
Telephone: (203) 762-7280
Contact Name: Sam Nunes
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Saturday, Jan. 26 Mini Golf Family Day in the Stacks at Wilton Library, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wilton Library will hold its 2nd mini golf fundraising event. There will be food (each paid admission will...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Wilton Library
Telephone: 203-762-3950
Contact Name: Wilton Library
Website »

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  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 26th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, Ages 4+ Attend for groovy crafts, snacks, games, and more in celebration of the Pete the Cat book series. This event is free and no registration is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
Ossining, NY  10562
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
Contact Name: Anne Norum
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Join us for a very special evening of music from these four accomplished singer songwriters: David Ray, Mike Latini, Dave Goldenberg, George Mallas.  

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

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Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm in New Morning’s handicapped accessible Community Room on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
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