Midland Hills is fortunate to have very good Board of Director minutes, dating back to 1919, when the club was created. I went through the minutes from 1919 – 1921, and extracted anything that had to do with creating the golf course, all the way through opening day. We always knew that the club struggled financially at the beginning. Assumptions were made regarding if the golf course was ever designed to Seth Raynor’s intentions and drawings. Now that we have a copy of his drawing, along with these minutes, we can connect many dots that remained questions for many decades.
Again, these are just excerpts of the minutes that only dealt with the golf course. The wording is as they were written 95+ years ago.
Also, there was a member whose name was Mr. Raymer, not to be confused as Raynor.
Enjoy the fascinating history of the creation of Midland Hills!
Overview of Midland’s BOD Minutes regarding Golf Course: 1919-1921
December 12, 1919
Members of the University of Minnesota Golf Course meet to form a new golf course and start to search for land suitable for such a high regard. The reason for wanting a split from the University Golf Course is to have the ability for non-faculty players to have a place to join and play.
January 19, 1920 – First Annual Meeting
Members receive approved application of Certificate of Incorporation of The University Golf Club. Bylaws of club and officers are appointed.
March 30, 1920
Introduction to Seth Raynor’s name to construct the new course, on the Walsh Estate, which was chosen for the site for the new course, after Ralph Barton’s correspondence with Donald Ross, that his services were being discussed as too expensive and not probable to pursue any further. Raynor is in the Twin Cities in connection with the Somerset course, and seemed interested in our course. Mr. Logan stated that Raynor would be in town April 5th and would go over the project with the club. It was stated that Mr. Logan should have a stroke removed from his handicap for this score as he has turned in for he has played a good round in obtaining a golf architect and prospect of Mr. Raynor to look after the planning of the course is cause for enthusiasm. It was voted that the Greens Committee and as many of the Board as could do so, should become a seperate Committee to meet and confer with Mr. Raynor, go over the Walsh estate with him, consider any plans he presented, and get his figures on the expense of his services in laying out the course, and that the Greens Committee may without consulting the Board further, make arrangements with Mr. Raynor involving an expense for his services up to $500.
It was reported that one, Albert, who is to work on the new course, with his team, had moved into the old shack, formerly the Evans dwelling, and put his horses in the barn. His presence there involved an oversight of the buildings and grounds.
The Committee recommended that for this year, the activities on the new course be chiefly confined to greens and tees, and that fairways be left until next year, if such a plan could be arranged to fit the needs of the architect. Greens are of first importance and should have great care and attention.
April 14, 1920
A special Board meeting was made regarding the meeting with Seth Raynor and his associate Mr. Cameron on April 10th. Raynor was asked his opinion of the land, and a price to layout the course. Raynor stated the land was excellent, and his price for putting the course in first class shape, including water for putter greens, was $1,600. On April 12th, Board members (including Ralph Barton) met Raynor and Cameron at the St. Paul Hotel to discuss. Raynor offered to lay out the course on a model for $1,500, provided the club would get to him within three weeks a contour map, the model would be delivered on June 1st.
The club’s car “Lizzie” was stated in being in bad shape and a new vehicle was to be found.
April 26, 1920
It was reported that the new quintuplex mower was at the station ready for shipment as soon as the freight embargo lifts. All other machinery except the disc harrow had been delivered and paid for. The Emerson Brantingham Company failed to deliver the harrow and is trying to secure another. Tornado insurance is taken out on the property. Albert Ince would officially become the clubs caretaker to maintain the keeper’s shack and a place for his horses and machinery in the club’s barn.
Voted to allow S. Solstad to harvest the hay on the Walsh Estate course and to sow small grain, provided he will sow the Club’s grass seed along with his small grain, and only use ground not to be under construction this summer.
It is reported that word has been received from Donald Ross and W.H. Fowler that they will lay out the course. Fowler states a time when he could come and do the work for $2,000, plus hotel bills. Ross gave no figures but offered time provisional upon other appointments.
The opinion of the Board that the course should be laid out with the idea of taking advantage of the attractiveness of the surrounding country as viewed from different points on the course, as well as the playing attractiveness of the different holes. It was felt that the lie and aspect of the ground should enter into the laying out the course, and that this could not be done in absentia, as Ross would do. It was suggested that a wire be sent to Raynor expressing a desire that the course be laid out while the architect is on the ground, and that Ross be wired for his figure for doing the work and date. It’s voted that the Grounds Committee be empowered to spend up to $2,000 to get the course properly laid out as soon as possible.
June 1, 1920
It’s stated that Raynor was in daily conferences with Evans, who was taking care of the old course (University of Minnesota, Thomas course), and the new course (Raynor course). On May 22, the Greens Committee Chair played the new course and had never played a course in such worse conditions. He immediately went to the Walsh place and asked Evans to harness the horses, saying he himself would mow the course if Evans would not. Evans said the course was all right and called the Chairman foul smelling names, but harnessed the horses and mowed grass all of Sunday afternoon.
The new mower has gone on a picnic trip in two parts, one by freight, and one by express, but both whereabouts entirely unknown. The old mower is woeful, and has been repaired by Twin City Welding Company as best it can. Parts for the mower have been borrowed from the Town and Country Club as well. Extra horses were hired to cut the rough. Members are complaining about the conditions of the course, but the Chairman states that this course is too new for playing on, and members are impatient in their study of it.
It’s stated that the dandelions have had their first round and the grass has grown so fast the first warm days that the fairways have become tough playing on the second day after they are cut. A kind request to any members with whom you speak to that God is to blame for that. Aside from the above, the Committee is looking out for the laying out of the Raynor course, and currently, the construction of the Eden hole.
The Chairman states that in the first place and in general, Mr. Raynor speaks of this course as one in which he is more interested than any other course he has ever laid out, as the best course west of the Atlantic seaboard (he has also made this statement to Mr. Gordon for whom he is laying out the Somerset course), as a goldmine, a course in which men will come to play over from different parts of this country and abroad, a course whose future is assured and for the membership in which men will be willing to pay very large prices, and that the financial risk of is trivial and bound to continue so because the knowledge of the enticements of the game has gone from the select few to the multitude, and because these enticements are so fundamental and permanent that they will not discontinue.
The Chairman of the Greens Committee, Mr. Barton, has practically lived with Mr. Raynor in the attempt to catch his ideals and has been able to do so to some extent. The Chairman believes that Mr. Raynor has the interests of this Club very vitally at heart and further, has hinted that an honorary membership in this Club would not be displeasing to him.
The Chairman states the course has been staked out on the grounds, models of the greens have been built, one hole (Eden) has been constructed except for the peat and topdressing, approximate estimates of cost of construction have been made by Raynor and definite plans of method of organizing and caring for crew of men and their method of work has been set forth. Mr. Raynor will mail descriptions of the methods of handling each green shortly.
The land survey has been made for a cost of $700, and will be permanently staked into the ground, and excellent paper maps and one cloth has been made. Mr. Raynor has been paid $1000, his railroad expenses have not been turned in yet.
Mr. Ramsdell reports the cost of constructing the Eden green so far, and recommends that work stops until the enterprise is properly financed. Mr. Raynor estimates cost of construction of the course at $2,000 to make it ready for play July, 1921. The Chairman, with the advice of Mr. Raynor recommends that a crew of men, from 30 to 50, be put to work to get the course ready for seeding the last week in August. Mr. Raynor will leave at that time to go over the Somerset course and has offered to go over the course and correct any incorrect work of construction before seeding. He says there will be no charge for this. The Chairman recommends Mr. Sloan be made foreman of construction and to have oversight of the old (Thomas) course, and that when the Raynor course is completed, he be made Superintendent of the course.
The Chairman states that he knows more of Mr. Raynor’s ideas on the course than any other. He has learned much of the makeup of Raynor. Raynor has told the Chairman that he has set this course high in the estimate of Mr. Gordon of the Somerset course, and the Mr. Gordon has more than a passing interest in it. Raynor also states that he can put water at every green for $1,500 or less.
Construction costs thus far:
Eden Green ——
Income as follows:
Rented land $150
$500 of Raynor’s cost is outside the $3,000 budget, i.e., for architect was voted aside from the $3,000 for construction.
September 1, 1920
Ralph Barton reported on Mr. Raynor’s visit to the club and that Raynor was satisfied with the work as it was going. Raynor, with his own hands, refashioned somewhat the surface of the 6th green. Raynor stated that no grass seed should be put on the greens until the equipment was at hand for keeping this seed thoroughly soaked on all of the greens until it was germinated, the reason being that the seed would be blown away and wasted unless kept wet on the course. He further reported that Mr. Raynor stated that the construction thus far put upon the course had increased its value as a course by $80,000. Mr. Barton stated that there are two more greens to be shaped and it only remained to cover and topdress and sow the greens before the rainy season sets in, that there would still be some construction necessary in completing bunkers and traps but that it was hoped that this week and next would see the end of a large crew. It would probably be necessary to keep five or six men on the course for some time yet. The current crew consists of thirty-three men and three teams.
A separate Committee reported the challenges of getting water to each green. An estimate of $3,300 and eleven wells made it prohibitive because of costs. The club does not have the proper funds for this cost. A tank mounted truck with pressure was discussed. The decision was left to the Committee to make a decision in order to complete the seeding.
Ralph Barton reported that the grass seed for the tees and greens had been purchased. The seed for greens is New Zealand fescue. Mr. Raynor purchased the seed and it has passed a government test at 98 % purity. The seed was purchased at a price of $.60 a pound but the Club should pay him $.50, the $.10 a pound being his commission. Raynor did not charge the Club for his traveling expenses in securing the seed. It was also noted that Raynor offered no charges in traveling expenses in coming to lay out the course originally and has made absolutely no charge for the two visits for inspection of the club that he has made since then. It was voted to send Mr. Raynor a luggage carrier and some other little camp equipment, in which he appeared interested in that leisure. The seed mixture for the greens will be two parts of this fescue with one part Red Top Bentgrass. The Red Top has already been purchased from Albert Dickenson Seed Co. For the tees, there has been procured a half and half mixture of the red top and Kentucky blue grass.
It was stated that all of the fairways had been gone over with a hay mower, and then with a disk harrow and spike tooth harrow and that the stones are now being picked out and then when this done, the heavy roller will be run over all of the fairways, and then the grass mowed and probably harrowed and rolled again. It was voted that the hay should be bailed at once and sold at the market price, as this income is needed.
September 15, 1920
Mr. Barton reported that they had started to bale the hay and he had a purchaser at $25 a ton. Barton reported that a well had been dug 87’ deep, 8” deep to a pump, and was in operation, that three greens were ready for seeding, that the construction of all greens except 17 and 18 had been completed. The Raynor formula was effective as usual. There was considerable discussion concerning the number of men to be kept on the job throughout winter, but no act was taken in these matters.
At the end of the Board meeting, Mr. Barton tendered his resignation as an officer and a member of the club. This resignation was not accepted. It was voted that all obligations charged against Mr. Barton’s membership should be removed from the books and that he was elected an honorary member of the Club, and that $500 was voted on account for his services rendered.
September 22, 1920
It was voted that there should be a work festival at the Club Saturday afternoon, October 2nd, Dr. Wipperman was appointed to appoint as many other members as he needed on the committee to carry out the work.
Mr. Barton gave a report on the present status of the course and stated:
Present Status: 15 greens were covered, and it was the plan to dispose of the main part of the crew September 25th. 16 greens were seeded, #18 was ready for topping, #17 ready for topping in one to two days. Numbers 2,3,5,6,7 have grass up and very thickly with roots 1 ½ long.
Temporary Greens: The tractor has roughed up temporary greens for # 2,3,7,8,12. The tractor completes its work at the rate of 2 greens a day and the remaining work can be done at about the same rate when the crew gets a through covering.
Fairways: # 1,5,7,9,11,12,13, 15 have been treated with disk harrow and spike tooth. # 2,3,5,15 have had the final spring tooth harrow treatment and are ready for rolling.
Bunkers: Early in the season it became evident that the greens could not be completed this year if all bunkers were completed as we went along. The Board then decided to dig shallow bunkers this summer and complete them in the spring. Bunkers are of two sorts – greens bunkers and fairway bunkers. The former are an essential part of the play for the hole, the latter serve to divide and protect adjoining fairways. On account of the many shortages and the consequent decreasing of the crew, it was decided not to open up any fairway bunkers this year. (The fairway bunker in # 2 was made early in the season.) Of the green bunkers, all have been marked out and plowed for the first digging. The bunkers on # 2 and 3 are completed. The bunkers on # 4,6,7,8,11, and 16 are completed for this year, except for the trap on #8. The bunkers on #10,12,13,14,18 are merely marked and plowed. It remains this fall to dig bunkers on #10, 12,13,14,18 and work can go on until the ground freezes hard.
Tees: No tees have been covered yet. Tees have been constructed for the following greens: 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,12,17. The double tees for 10 and 16 and the tee for 15 will be more work than normal. We are trying peat on one or two tees, but the remainder will be covered in black dirt only. It is a question whether or not the peat will make the tee tops too soft for the severe hacking our membership gives them.
Trees: All trees have been cut that are to come out, and practically all others have been trimmed up, and I’m hoping to be able to pick up and set out some maples, birches and Mountain Ash with Bill if we can spare a little time soon. The stumps have not been blown out in the clearings. I hope to get Mr. Sloan to do this soon and then to smooth up the grounds.
Miscellaneous: I have learned today that the slew in the woods which has furnished most of our black dirt for topping greens is not leaf mold, but is well rotted cow manure, which has been deposited there for a series of several years by Mr. Peterson. A couple hundred loads still remains for use.
Finances: This is hell. If I had the money I could have had all greens and tees ready tonight, and my bunkers cleaned out and my fairways in good shape. Money and the weather, however, stand in the way of completion of the work. If we have two weeks of growing weather, we can get by all right with the greens. If it does not freeze for a month, the fairways will be in good shape. All bills have been sent to Mr. Rodgers for collections. We had to use the hay money for payrolls and baling and now we need more. Evan, Bill and Busse have money coming. This says nothing of grass seed, tractor, pump, well, sand to be paid for, and rent January 1. When the hurricane strikes the ship, the rats desert first. Who’s going to stick to the end? The boat is worth it, most of the crew is worth it. So let’s set to baling and paddling. Most precious jewels cost something, and cost is paid by effort mainly.
January 27, 1921 – Second Annual Meeting of the University Golf Club Inc.
Mr. A.W. Logan gave the report of the Greens Committee and reviewed the work of the construction of the new course, as stated some of the difficulties faced by the Committee in the care of the course last year. He read statements made by Mr. Raymer to C.W. Gordon of the Somerset Course and repeated to Mr. Logan by Mr. Gordon that the University Golf Club Course were carried to proper completion it would be the finest course west of the Atlantic seaboard, Mr. Logan stated that while the greens were all constructed that it would be necessary to put considerable more sand on them to make them right, that while the fairways have been treated, it would be necessary to seed them and roll them for at least a week in the Spring with a steam roller, that the remaining bunkers about the greens must be excavated in order to give the holes their real significance, that a pure estimate of the cost to upkeep the course this year would be $8,000. The recommendation of the Committee was that a system of water sufficient to insure water for these greens be installed saying that unless this was provided, we could expect to lose a large part of the money already invested. It was recommended to take water from the lake rather than a deep well, as the temperature of the lake water would be much better for the grass. Mr. Doran stated that the system would branch off and could accommodate watering greens and tees, and that the cost of such a system would not exceed $6,000. This system would also serve as the source for the clubhouse showers. Mr. Doran later said that should the supply become insufficient, it would be possible to replenish the supply using the lake as a reservoir from a deep well at an additional cost of about $2,500. Mr. Sullwold expressed desire for a deep well and a bubbling fountain at each green such as the case at White Bear. It was reported that Mr. Vardon says the water at White Bear is too cold and wishes he could take it from White Bear Lake. Mr. Lovering wished the Committee to get trustworthy data concerning the available quantity of water from the lake on our property. Mr. Julihn said that the water of the lake could readily be made good drinking water.
Mr. Raymer reported for the Club on the sale of the old course that Mr. Schiely expected to take over by merely assuming the lease. He stated that it might be possible to get from $15,000-20,000 on the plan that would bring in $1,000 the first and $2,000 the next year, etc. It was voted to accept $3,700, not including rent or equipment from the Elks and the Midway Club for the old course land.
June 6, 1921
It was voted that the new course be officially opened July 9, but that it be opened for play beginning July 1. Voted that Mr. Raymer be authorized to close the deal with the Elks for $1,000 cash, and payment for the upkeep of the old course with the privilege to the membership of playing the old course for the rest of this year free of charge.
It was voted to permit the expenditure of $200 for the purpose of a two-horse mower, with belts and pulleys to connect up with the lawn mower grinder, emery wheel, air compressor, and club buffer.
June 22, 1921
Mr. Barton stated that he had been requested by Mr. Raynor to go to Bermuda for the summer, but that he was willing to remain and see the course through, provided the Board would meet the salary offer of Mr. Raynor. It was voted Mr. Barton be allowed to accept Mr. Raynor’s offer because the financial status of the Club would not warrant this expenditure on the part of the Board. It was voted that work on the course should, in Mr. Barton’s absence, be confined entirely to the upkeep of the course, and that all construction – in particular the making and completing of the bunkers – should be left until Mr. Barton’s return to take charge of the work.
It was voted to present to Mr. Barton for his services to the Club so far this year, a touring car named “Lucile” and that all charges against Mr. Barton on the books should be wiped off.
It was voted that in case Mr. Barton should remain in the Cities, he should continue his connection on the work of the Club in his present status.
June 29, 1921 – First documented Minutes of the “Midland Hills Country Club”
It was moved by Mr. Raymer, seconded by Dr. Aurand and unanimously carried that the opening of the new course be postponed until July 15th, 1921. More time is needed to get the course ready.
August 3, 1921
It was agreed to recommend an assessment of $25 payable immediately and $25 January 1st, or an assessment of $25 payable at once and the sale of 25 regular memberships at $300, provided, that if such memberships are not all sold by January 1st, then the assessment to be increased by the unsold amount. This is the best attempt to meet outstanding obligations of the Club.
August 10, 1921
Mr. Raymer reported that the disposal of the old golf course grounds to the Elks Club was apparently not going to be consummated, and after some discussion, J.F. Horn was appointed to confer with some of the members who belong to the University faculty and offer the lease of the old grounds for sale in exchange for 10 resident memberships to be turned in by members of the University faculty.
It was reported that the greenskeeper advised that he had a standing offer from Mr. Marshall of Duluth to take a position with him, which would be a more permanent nature than his present work.
August 24, 1921
Mr. Martin Rasmussen was recommended for the position of greenskeeper and the Greens Committee was authorized to employ him at a salary not to exceed $1,800 per year.
August 31, 1921
It was decided that Martin Rasmussen, the new greenskeeper, would have charge of the construction work, and Youatt would have charge of maintenance of the course.
September 14, 1921
It was moved by J.R. Raymer and seconded by D.D. Turnacliff, that the bottom of the sloughs on the new course be smoothed the same as #5 on the old course.
September 28, 1921
The Greens Committee was authorized to raise the 12th green sufficient distance to prevent the grass thereon becoming winter killed.
October 12, 1921
The Greens Committee reported on Seth Raynor’s visit to the course, particularly as to his recommendations for the 10th and 11th green, and it was decided to rebuild the greens as soon as possible to agree with Mr. Raynor’s ideas.
November 9, 1921
The Secretary was instructed to send to R.M. Barton duly assigned Registration Certificate of car known as “Lucile”.
December 21, 1921
The Board authorized the Secretary to advise Mr. Barrett that the old golf course would not be used after the first of the year, and that we desire to take advantage of his offer to release the Club from the lease.