Golf History

In the early 1890s, the Bellevue Tennis Club was formed, and they played on two courts next to Mr. George Merrill’s house on East Emerson Street. Ultimately, one of the members of the Club procured a few golf clubs, and some of the members started playing golf in a pasture belonging to the Jones farm on Upham Street. This location was in the present area of the Hillcrest Church and Mooreland Road. The interest in this activity, started amongst the members of the Bellevue Tennis Club, grew rapidly to the point where George Merrill organized a golf club in the spring of 1899, and the grounds on East Street were engaged for the season. There were ten members. Shortly thereafter, this group leased about thirty acres of land belonging to the estate of the late Calvin Locke and moved to that site. The date of the lease was October 13, 1899.

This rolling land, lying between Porter and Howard Streets, on the slope of Pine or Rattlesnake Hill, is admirably adapted to this purpose, giving ample scope for its course of 1845 yards with nine holes. These were uniquely named as follows:

  • Long Tom, with its deep ditch to cross;
  • Elbow, through a swamp;
  • The Birches, through a small grove with adjoining swamp;
  • Grove, over rocky land with bushes, hill, and ditch;
  • Over the Garden Wall, similar in character to the last;
  • The Pines, also similar;
  • Lookout, so named for its extensive and excellent view of the surrounding country;
  • High Ball, over a fair green; and
  • Home, the most difficult of all, with its stone walls, trees, and bushes.

On November 14, 1901, the membership voted to lease from Martin L. Penny for three years, about twenty acres in Saugus between Pine Hill and Howard Street at an annual rental of $350, thus increasing the length of run for the nine holes to 2700 yards.

On February 24, 1903, the Massachusetts Golf Association was organized, and Bellevue became a charter member along with thirty-six other clubs.

Plans for the incorporation of the Club were made on October 27, 1909, when a holding trust called the Bellevue Associates was formed. Up to that time, the grounds had been leased from Calvin Locke and Martin Penny. With sufficient funds available, the Associates made a contract with the Locke Estate for optional occupation, with entrance from Porter Street. The Associates ratified the sale of this property at a price of $200 per acre. Later, in 1914, the Club was incorporated. The first meeting of the incorporators was held on October 23, 1914, and the Certificate of Incorporation was dated November 2, 1914. By 1919 the Penny land in Saugus had been purchased, and negotiations for the purchase of the land of E. S. Page, adjoining the Club to the north almost to Howard Street, were made. On February 8, 1924, $8000 was authorized to be paid for the Page land. With the acquisition of this land a new layout of the course was begun in 1924. Before completion, a part of the land was taken over by the Metropolitan District Commission in October 1927, to build the Lynn Fells Parkway. In 1928, the Club received $13,000 from the Commonwealth on account of this taking. By 1930 the new layout was completed, and it is basically the course that we have today.

During the early Thirties the full impact of the depression was felt all along the line. In order to get enough income to keep going, the initiation fee was waived, and the holding of a membership certificate was made optional. Many clubs closed, and others went through bankruptcy, but Bellevue always managed to get through another year. Robert Mosher was elected President at the Annual Meeting in November 1931, and died in office in January 1938, having been the presiding officer longer than any other up to that time. His resourcefulness and hard work were important factors in the Club’s survival through this critical period.

Warren Kershaw, who remained President through the 1946 season, succeeded him. With the advent of World War II, the Club was again in good physical condition, and with its accessibility was able to retain a full membership through the war years.

A number of modifications to this layout have been made over the years.

  • A new green was built to the left of the ninth green to be used for the ninth hole, with the regular green used for the eighteenth hole. The new green was difficult to maintain and was eventually abandoned.
  • The first green was replaced with a larger sloping green with a new configuration of traps.
  • A pond was dug near the fifth hole and fed by wells to provide a watering system for the golf course. The resulting fill was used to expand the fifth green and for landscaping in front of the sixth tee.
  • The traps in front of the fifth green were eliminated and a new trap added to the right of the green.
  • In 1998 the third, sixth, and ninth greens were rebuilt and enlarged, making the current length of the nine holes about 3100 yards. The traps on the eighth and ninth holes were also rebuilt.
  • In 2009, the 8th tee box complex was rebuilt, and the bunkers around the 7th hole were expanded.