Maple Bluff Country Club
Dates Back to 1899
Maple Bluff Country Club, which today stands as one of the oldest and finest golf clubs in Wisconsin, has a rich history that dates back to 1899. In December of that year, several golf enthusiasts officially incorporated “Maple Bluff Golf Club,” rented a six-acre pasture on the Halle Steensland farm and laid out a five hole course.
The idea of a club gained fans so rapidly that in 1900, 20 people agreed to advance the necessary funds to purchase, for $5,000, a 58 acre tract of land from S.H. Marshall at Maple Bluff and build a clubhouse.
An invitation to membership at the time stated the attractions of the course:
“The grounds are admirably adapted for a country club. A nine-hole course has been laid out by Messrs. Tweedie and Dunn, two of the best golf experts in the country. There are beautiful locations for other games, such as croquet, bowling, cricket and lawn tennis, to be improved when the Club desires. There has been expended, in the preparation of the ground, the sum of $1,300.”
The improvement of the grounds was begun in the spring of 1900 and the building of the clubhouse in the autumn of that year, and both were ready for use in May, 1901. The clubhouse, with accessories, cost about $2,500. The woodframe structure measured 50 by 70 feet and contained two locker rooms, a large assembly hall and a small kitchen. The clubhouse included a veranda extending around three sides so members and friends could either watch golfers or the view of Madison across the lake.
In 1901, the initiation fee for a family, “including parents and all unmarried children living at home,” was $25 with annual dues also at $25.
A few years later four more holes were added to complete the nine and Maple Bluff had grown to a membership of 50 active golfers.
One historical anecdote states that “To keep the fairways smooth, 300 sheep and a mower were on hand.”
It was common sight in those days to see members arrive by horse and buggy or by steamboat which would leave the university area several times a day and land near the property which is now the Village beach. A member recalled long ago that a 40 foot steamboat, called the “Putter,” was purchased by the club to run from the university boathouse at the foot of North Carroll Street to the pier near the club.
In 1901, MBCC was one of nine Wisconsin golf clubs to form the Wisconsin State Golf Association. The WSGA’s first state amateur golf tournament was that year at Bluemound Country Club. In 1907 Maple Bluff was host to the Men’s State Amateur and it was won by Mr. Frank Jacobs, one of the original Maple Bluff members.
The club continued to grow and prosper, and in 1916 Maple Bluff was enlarged to a full fledged 18 hole course.
The original clubhouse was destroyed in August 1921 by a tornado which blew the roof off the building. The roof was carried 500 feet to the east and landed on the home of the club’s caretaker. There were about 50 people in the clubhouse when it was wrecked and the storm left many card players on the porch wondering how they ever escaped alive. In spite of the total destruction of the clubhouse, only one member was slightly injured. A new clubhouse was completed in 1922 and the membership had expanded to 242 members.
If you want some interesting anecdotes from long time members, ask how it was to play when a road ran right through the middle of the course. In 1967, our club closed the road and revised the layout of the course. As a result, the course underwent a drastic renovation with holes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 being completely relocated and several other greens entirely rebuilt.
Many changes and improvements have been made over the years but the basic layout of the course has remained unchanged since 1967. Major renovations have been made over the years to the clubhouse, the most recent being in 2002.
Today, our 18 hole, 6,402 yard (par 71) course is a mature, beautifully manicured and challenging layout and is considered one of the finest and most beautifully maintained golf courses in the midwest.