Last year, I read through and extracted details from the club’s minute books from 1919-1921. The minutes I pulled out, revolved around the creation of the club, Seth Raynor’s design, the implementation of that design, as well as anything I found significant/interesting.
In this installment, I went through the minutes from 1922-1928. The Board met at least once, if not twice a month, for this 7-year span. Something happened at the end of 1921. I’m not certain, but I am assuming that a new crop of Committee and Board members got involved. And maybe even more important, Ralph Barton had left the club to go work for Raynor himself. The level of detail in the minutes diminished significantly, and the Greens Committee Chair and Club President started to alter the course, as they saw fit. There has been speculation over how Raynor’s design was altered, abandoned, and the disregarded. After reading through this period of time, Raynor’s name is only mentioned once (and this was only to reference his drawing). This is extremely significant, and in how the minutes read, the Greens Chair was considered the absolute expert in managing the golf course. This was probably very common throughout the country during this time, however, without anyone documenting Raynor’s intent in his design at Midland Hills, the course was vulnerable to major change within 3 years of inception, at the helm of the Greens Chairs for the following 20 years. As you’ll read, there are some very interesting decisions that were made, and they paint a clear picture of answers to many questions. Of course, not every Board meeting detail was documented, so the open holes, obviously lead to more questions. For myself, many times it was not what was written about in the majority of the minutes, but what was not written about. I’ll chime in and insert my commentary in italics with questions and comments.
If you didn’t read the minutes from 1919-1921, you can start here: http://www.mhccturf.com/?p=1310
April 19, 1922
Vice President A.W. Logan reported there were 6 men working on the course, fixing bunkers, discing fairways and seeding. It’s reported that there is a meeting to form the St. Paul Golf Association and advised as to the tournament to be played for the Pioneer Press Cup.The Board authorized the following schedule of wages to be paid:
Class A Caddy: $.25/hour for practicing Carrying Caddy: $.70/round Spotting for 2 players without carrying a bag: $.70/round Spotting for more than 2 players: $.10/extra player Carrying 1 bag and spotting for another 2 players $.90/round Carrying 2 bags $1.00/round
Class B Caddy: $.10 less/round
It was moved and carried that the House Committee to be authorized to take such action as they might consider for the best interests of the club as regards the Jersey Cow, which is now the property of the club, either to dispose of this animal, or sell the milk, as seemed advisable.
August 25, 1922
Board considered it advisable to defer construction work on the grounds, but to do as much as possible toward fixing up and keeping in shape the greens and fairways.
October 17, 1922
A.W. Logan led considerable discussion to the matter of Greenskeeper, and retainment. The recommendation to the Committee that it acts as it sees fit with regard to the Greenskeeper.
Feb 21, 1923
It was moved and seconded that the club exercise its option under the Walsh Lake lease, and rent the additional 10 acres of land to the west of the present grounds.
This would be the inception of the driving range and practice area West of what is now Highway 280.
March 23, 1923
C.E. Drake reported on the leased 10 acres of land and advised the Board that Mrs. Walsh died last December.
April 16, 1923
The matter of residence of Greenskeeper was taken up, and requested to find out as to what could be done towards obtaining a suitable residence for him.
April 23, 1923
Dr. H.C. Johnson reported on the matter of residence for the Greenskeeper, advising that one of the new houses on Eustis Street be purchased for $2,600. Board approved purchasing the home, with a down payment of $500, and monthly payment not to exceed $40. It was decided the Greenskeeper be paid $25/month, plus house repairs and wear and tear.
Clarence Drake reported on the 10 acres of the Walsh heirs. They would no longer consider renting the 10 acres, instead rent us the entire 20 acres for 70 years at $325. It was decided that since the club did not need the additional 10 acres it uses now, that tract would not be rented at this period of time.
June 13, 1923
Greens Committee reported that construction on the course had practically been completed, and will be finished shortly.
Important to note that after 2 years from the opening date, construction of the course is still not completed. Opening a course before it was completed was a costly, but common, mistake. The costs with operating an open course, while trying to complete construction, with no outside staff, was probably crippling to both agendas. As there wasn’t sufficient funding to complete construction, no less complete it properly, the process of construction drug on for years, while the quality of turf more than likely didn’t meet the expectations of the membership.
June 26, 1923
On motion, the new measurements of the course, as revised by D.D. Turnacliff, in conjunction with Jock Hendry, were approved and ordered placed on scorecards and tee boxes. It was voted that the Directors Cup should be a new trophy each year, and going forward, a better trophy be obtained.
I really wish there was more detail here. Have they already altered the course, making it longer and “better”? Jock Hendry was the Golf Professional at Midland Hills. Regardless, a revision of a course that hasn’t even been completely grown in, is a red flag. Would Ralph Barton agreed to changing Raynor’s course before it was really even completed, just 2 years after the official opening?
December 19, 1923
After discussion of the theft of fire-wood, etc., from the grounds, it was moved and seconded that M. Rasmussen, Greenskeeper, arranged to be made a special deputy to protect the club’s property.
April 16, 1924
Major Robinson reported for the House Committee that Mrs. Gordon, proprietor of the Yellow Lantern Cafe of Minneapolis, had been chosen concessionaire of the club for 1924, at $100/month, and take charge May 15.
May 29, 1924
A motion was approved to an assessment of $10 for every member immediately to pay for a new water well. Any balance of assessment should be used for expenses. The Club Professional, Jock Hendry, qualified for the National Open Championship.
July 18, 1924
Dr. Aurand brought up bringing Cyril Walker and Bobby Cruikshank to play at the club in a match. Approved by the Board.
July 30, 1924
Approved to retain Club Professional, Jock Hendry, at a salary of $100/month. Dr. Aurand reported on the Walker and Cruickshank match. It was agreed upon that even though it was a slight loss to the club, it was good advertising.
August 27, 1924
It was unanimously adopted that Mr. Logan, Chair of the Greens Committee, was instructed to complete work on #7 and 16.
Jock Hendry, Midland Golf Professional, was given permission to take a leave of absence of 10 days to play in the Western Open and Illinois State Championship. It was agreed that Mr. Lester Bolstad not be allowed to participate in club events since he is not a dues paying member.
October 22, 1924
Mr. Arthur W. Logan’s request to resign as Greens Chair was not accepted.
November 27, 1924
Mr. Jock Landry’s resignation as professional was accepted.
Mr. Drake brought up the question of purchasing the course from the current owners. It was determined that nothing could be done at the present time.
December 17, 1924
Mr. Christofferson introduced Mr. McRae as the new professional, and instructed to enter into a one year contract with him.
Jan 28, 1925
Approved that dues shall be $75/year instead of $60. However, this shall not increase any professors at the UofM, who is curently employed by the University.
February 16, 1925
Upon motion, it was decided to increase the salary of Martin Rasmussen, Greenskeeper, to $2,100/year. Board decided to instruct Mr. Rasmussen to proceed with his plan to paint the pump house, barn, and roof of the powder house.
A motion was made to appropriate $100/month for secretarial services.
March 15, 1925
A.W. Logan, Chairman of Greens Committee, wished the records to show that his needs to operate his department’s budget to be at least $12,000 for the season.
April 10, 1925
The club was authorized to pay the USGA $5 extra for membership the the Green Section Service.
This branch of the USGA is still operating and I often share their informational guides and videos with you. http://www.usga.org/course-care/about-the-green-section.html
The club secretary was instructed to write Professor Clarence Clay, extending him the privileges of Midland Hills golf course for the 1925 season.
A request was received from Mr. Charles Morris, captain of the UofM golf team, to use Midland Hills’ golf course. It was approve they be allowed to play, with the exception of Saturday PM, Sundays, and Holidays, upon payment of the regular greens fees in cash.
It was decided that greens fees will be $1.50 each day. Saturday, Sunday and Holidays shall be $2.00
It was authorized to purchase a filing cabinet for the use of the secretary.
This filing cabinet is more than likely the reason we have the club minutes!
April 28, 1925
Greens Committee discussed the temporary tees, and it was approved to sod the remaining bunkers as well as bad spots on fairways.
The House Committee reported that a house would be erected over the watering pump at the ninth green, as well as a caddy-house.
Approved to extend a press membership to the golf editors of the St. Paul Daily News, Pioneer Press, Minneapolis Tribune, and Minneapolis Journal.
September 10, 1925
Secretary read a letter from the insurance company, whose inspector had gone over the grounds and recommended the removal of several hazards to the safety of life and limb about the golf course. It was directed to send the letter to the Chairman of the Greens Committee.
Mr. Ben Siedel was appointed chairman of a committee to solicit funds from membership for the purpose of planting trees about the course.
The earliest aerial photos of Midland Hills we have, you can see these trees, “filling in” open areas that Raynor had originally designed as part of his design, to appreciate the topography of the land, as well as the long views.
November 28, 1925
A report from the Tree Committee reported a collection of $203. The treasurer was directed to draw a check for this amount payable to the Chairman of the Tree Committee.
The Greens Committee recommended to Board the purchase of a new Ford truck for $322. The Committee was instructed to find costs of repairing the old truck before entering a contract for a new one.
December 11, 1925
The chairman of Green Committee reported it would cost $143 to put the old Ford truck in good condition. It was authorized to purchase a new truck in the spring.
Februray 1, 1926
Club President Christofferson outlined the proposition installing a watering system at a cost of $6,200, and that this amount be paid by a 3 year assessment of $10/year/member. Motion was carried almost unanimously, 96 members present, 86 votes yes.
Motion was made that members should play the ball as it lies throughout the coming golf season.
March 3, 1926
Chairman of the Greens Committee was authorized to re-employ Martin Rasmussen as Greenskeeper at the monthly salary of $175.
April 19, 1926
Motion was approved to enter a contract with McCarthy well to dig a new watering well.
May 6, 1926
The Chair of the Sports and Pastime Committee recommended that the local rules be amended as follows: That sloughs on 7 and 13 fairways be considered natural hazards, and should be played as rough.
Hole 7 is no longer in play but ran across 1 fairway, the driving range and 18 fairway, playing from West to East to the current chipping green. There was a slough at the bottom of 18 fairway that came into play for the longer hitters. 13 now plays as 15, and the pond on the left of the approach used to come all the way across the fairway with just a sliver of short grass to the right of the water. Again, Raynor made the longer hitter make a tough decision to challenge the hazard off the tee on a short 4-shot hole.
It was also approved that a starting tee time be made on Saturday and Sundays beginning May 15th.
May 18, 1926
It was moved and seconded that the Greens Committee be authorized to purchase a Downey watering pump with a capacity of 150 gallons/minute at a price of $2,627
The Greens Committee authorized to purchase 1 sprinkler of the sea serpent type to be used in experimentation.
July 15, 1926
Greens Committee reported that they were discussing options of installing water piping to the fairways. No definite action was taken.
Again, this is 5 years after the course opened and still no fairway irrigation is installed. This probably made it difficult to establish a good stand of turf to play on, hence the Committee telling membership to “play the ball as it lies” for the previous seasons. On the flip side, not having fairway irrigation was probably a positive to playabilty to Raynor’s intent. Balls rolling out on hard-pan fairways into hazards, or following the grass lines of the fairways, carrying the ball further offline to the preferred line of play to the green. But it is obvious that the club is continually talking about how upgrading the well, pump system and piping is a priority. Also, very interesting to note, the mention of the sea-serpent sprinkler, which was developed by Charles Erickson, famous Greenskeeper at the Minikahda Club. The system was for courses that didn’t have in-ground piping, and was a miniature version of watering systems used by farmers, with the sprinklers on wheels, and could be moved down the fairways, and where needed. The sea-serpent wasn’t sold until 1930, meaning we were truly testing the sprinkler in the pro-type stage. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/holen/article/1999jun16.pdf
August 30, 1926
Greens Committee made a very lengthy and comprehensive report recommending the rebuilding of several of the greens and the construction of additional bunkers. The Committee was advised to proceed with this work accordingly to their best judgement.
The Committee recommended the expenditure of approximately $225 to fill in the sloughs and construct a road immediately South of the old bridge located East of the 4th tee. Expenditure was authorized.
This is a major red flag! Was the Committee working off Raynor’s plan or additional construction notes? Doubtful, as Raynor’s name hasn’t been documented in the minutes for 4 years. Why are they talking about rebuilding greens when they were talking about finishing original construction just 3 years prior? Unfortunately, there are not enough details in the minutes to answer all these questions. From these minutes we can only assume that the Committee was making recommendations in the best of their abilities, not knowing that they were the beginning of changes that would alter their Seth Raynor course forever. However, given the design of the Greens Chair authority, it was common in this period for many Chairs to alter golf courses to their liking. This “ownership” was viewed as a positive, but often laced with personal agendas that benefited said Greens Chair’s golf game and liking!
Letter from Dr. Turnacliff to USGA:
Mr. Herbert H. Ramsey
110 East 42nd Street
New York, New York
Our club is divided as to local ground rules on two holes on our course and whether two sloughs in the fairways should be improved or left as rough.
The enclosed diagram is a copy of Seth Raynor’s original plan, which as you see, indicates that the sloughs under question were intended by him to be left as hazards.
On #7, the slough is 285 yards with down slope to the slough, the slough is 60 yards across with some scrub oaks on both sides. The remaining 60 yards to the green is an up grade. The long drivers at the Club maintain they should not be penalized if their ball reached the hazards and that they should be permitted to lift back and play without penalty. All agreed that the second shot should be penalized.
In your opinion (1) should we make such a special rule for the long drivers; (2) are such hazards in the middle of the fairway looked upon as unfair hazards and should they be improved to a good fairway?
This same condition exists on #13 except that the slough is at 250 yards and that there is a slope from the right of the fairway to the left.
I realized the difficulty of expressing an opinion from such a diagram but if you will let me know what you think, we would appreciate it.
D.D. Turnacliff, M.D.
Midland Hills Golf Committee
Letter from USGA to Dr. Turnacliff:
July 30, 1926
D.D. Turnacliff, M.D.
#1 South Eleventh Street
I have your letter of the 24th inst. together with diagrams. This is a matter for your local Committee to decide. No doubt some one in your Club worked out these distances with the late Seth Raynor who designed the courses and they must have had in mind the possibility of long drivers driving into these sloughs.
You ask for my personal opinion, it is this: there are a great many holes on a great many golf courses in this country where long drivers must use their heads and play shorter clubs in order not to drive into hazards. The Garden City Golf Club stands out as one of these courses. My own opinion is that players must use judgement on these holes and should they drive into these places indicated they would have to play the ball as it lies and not be allowed the privilege of dropping back without penalty.
Your very truly,
Howard F. Whitney
Chairman, Rules of Golf Committee
Wow! This correspondence is truly special. As I previously discussed, hole #7 is the current chipping green between #10 and 11, and #13 is the current #15. Below are close ups of the holes so you can see the detail. Howard Whitney was a major part of golf history. He was part of standardizing the rules of the game, bravely protecting the amateur status of the game, would become the President of the USGA the year after George H. Walker (grandfather to George H.W. Bush), and was the only American to be a member of the USGA and R&A, along with Bobby Jones. He was also a golfing member at National Golf Links of American, Piping Rock and the Links Club, so he knew CB Macdonald/Seth Raynor courses well. His authority in the game of golf and history is unparalleled. As you read, his answer to Dr. Turnacliff was simple; you need to think your way around a golf course, architects forced you to do so, and many times, against your liking.
October 8, 1926
The Board recommended to the Golf Committee to re-engage Duncan Mac Rae as Pro for Midland Hills for the season of 1927 for $100/month from April 1 to December 1.
The Greens Committee was instructed to find, if possible, some new timber for the position of Greenskeeper for the season of 1927.
December 10, 1926
Dr. Aurand outlined to the Board a plan to organize and operate a trap shooting Club within the members of the Golf Club. The plan was approved by the Board.
January 13, 1927
The President, A.B. Christofferson, announced that the Greens Committee had engaged Emil Picha as Greenskeeper for the season of 1927 at an annual salary of $2,200, beginning January 1, 1927.
February 2, 1927
The Board was authorized to accept the proposal of L. W. Hines to act in the capacity of Club Accountant for the season of 1927 as a salary of $100/month.
March 3, 1927
The Greens Committee indicated that their allowance in the budget was approximately $4,000 short, which included necessary items of expenditure as enumerated by the Chairman.
After much discussion of ways and means to raise this additional $5,000 a motion was made, and carried, that it be the sense of the meeting that this necessary money be raised to finance this increase proposed expenditure as outlined by the Chairmen of the House and Greens Committee.
April 11, 1927
It was approved that a special meeting of the Membership of the Club be called for the purpose of devising ways and means of raising money to complete a watering system on the fairways, and to provide for the necessary expense of operations.
April 18, 1927
It was moved, seconded, and carried that an assessment of $15 per member, payable $7.50 on June 1st, and $7.50 0n August 1st be levied for the specific purpose of purchasing permanent improvements for the course and for the house.
May 9, 1927
The Greens Committee reported that they had completed the installation of the watering system on 17 green for $260, and they plan to complete with the money available this year the 18th, 4th, 1st, and 5th fairways. The Board duly passed a resolution to play the ball as it lies this year. It was moved by Board member Orr that the Committee be instructed to raise the level of the Lake. Motion was lost for lack of a second.
June 13, 1927
A discussion was held relative to the advisability of retaining a ranger and relative to ways and means of pressing upon the members the absolute necessity of replacing divots and preserving the course in other ways.
A discussion was initiated by Greens Committee Chair, Dr. Turnacliff, relative to the draining of the slough in front of #13 green and the sense of the Board was that such a plan would be desirable.
So less than 1 year from being told by the USGA that the sloughs are important parts of the strategy of the design, Dr. Turnacliff gets approval to alter the entire strategy of the current 15th hole. What are the chances that the Dr. was a long driver of the ball?! So how did they drain the slough? Well, if you look at the current 16th hole, there was never a pond in front of the tees, in Raynor’s design. So they dug that pond and used the soil to bury the pond that ran across the 15th approach. A very expensive endeavor for the club during the beginnings of a period of financial dip.
August 8, 1927
It was decided to appoint a rules committee to have charge of the regulation of players on the courses, handicaps and matters of a like nature. The secretary was directed to write Major Ray Miller, relative to the aviators flying low over our golf course.
The Board authorized the Chairmen of the Greens Committee to offer Emil Picha, Greenskeeper, a salary of $2,400 per year for four years with the provision that if he should be incapacitated in the mean time, that he is to receive at the end of that four year period, a bonus of $200 per year.
Mr. Christofferson reported that he had not yet received the engineers report relative to the well and pump situation.
It was then decided that the Twin Cities Professionals were welcome to hold the qualifying rounds at Midland Hills for the National Professional Tournament but without any prizes offered.
September 12, 1927
It was the sense of the Board after the recommendation of the Greens Chair that the work on the 13th fairway be completed during the present year, weather permitting, and a new tee be built for #15.
Mr. Christofferson read the opinion of the engineer that places the blame for our unsatisfactory well on the shoulders of the drillers, McCarthy Well Company. It was moved that Mr. Christofferson be retained to represent the club as attorney in this matter and to initiate legal proceedings if necessary.
October 10, 1927
It was approved that the course should be shortened and lengthened by the recommendations of the Greens and Golf Committee.
It was reported that McCarthy Well agreed to dig another well and connect to the old well at about 150 feet under the surface.
April 9, 1928
It was reported that McCarthy Well Company had started drilling on the new well.
May 14, 1928
It was carried that Dr. Hugh Ritchie was suspended for non-payment of his account.
Dr. H. Ritchie 1931
It was reported that relative to changes in the #11 hole, the decision thereon be rendered after June 1st.
After discussion relative to furnishing wooden golf tees and eliminating the furnishing of sand, Mr. Christofferson was appointed a committee of one to investigate and report at the next meeting.
June 11, 1928
Communication was presented by Oscar Swoboda, requesting the use of the course, two or three Friday afternoons during the summer for the use of the St. Paul Druggists Golf Association. Due to the increase in membership and the affect of unfavorable weather conditions during the spring, the Board was compelled to reject this request.
This could be the very first time an outside event at Midland Hills was attempted as outside income.
Upon motion duly noted, seconded and carried, an expenditure of $25 per year for the next 5 years was authorized to the Interlachen Country Club for experimental work in grasses under the supervision of the USGA.
July 9, 1928
It was approved to allow a tournament of St. Paul Dentists on July 23rd. The Board allowed holding tournaments on the course for the remainder of the season as long as they are made up of a reasonable number of fair golfers and providing that there would be no great inconvenience to the club membership. The request of the R.M. Neely Company for a tournament on August 7th was approved.
Mr. Christofferson reported on the question of wooden tees be tabled indefinitely.
The Greens Committee initiated a discussion relative to the purchase of a power mower for greens and it was the sense of the Board that the Committee would be justified in making this purchase, although it would reduce the margin of safety in connection with their budget expenditures for the year.
August 13, 1928
The secretary recommended that certain accounts be referred to a collection agency for action.
The Greens Committee reported they had purchased the power mower for greens and suggested various investments stating that the alterations of the 11th holes is one of the first objectives to be accomplished.
Hole #11 is the current 13th hole. We are not certain because we don’t have early enough aerials, but from what Raynor had drawn, we more than likely originally had a magnificent Bottle Template hole. The hole had an upper fairway tier, where the current dump site/woods are now that almost went to Cty Road B, combined where the fairway sits now and even more to the right. The Bottle Template is rare today, but anyone that’s played one, knows how strategic and fun they are. Scroll down to the 8th hole at NGLA to see a Bottle Template still in play today https://geekedongolf.com/tag/ngla/
To comprehend the width of the hole, look at the left fairway line in relation to the current 13th and 14th tees, which are in the same spot today. The right fairway line went way to the South, bringing wayward shots further away from the center of the fairway, and semi-blind into the green from the natural land form/small hill.
September 11, 1928
After discussion the Board by appropriate action directed the Secretary to write Mr. Smith of the University Golf Club stating that we have no objection to the draining of their golf course grounds into our lake.
The Greens Committee reported that there was a possablity of the McCarthy Well Company being willing to drill a well at the other end of the course, in view of their apparent inability to sink a straight hole near the lake. The Board gave authority to the Committee to negotiate with them.
October 8, 1928
President May announced that he had appointed A.B. Christofferson to prepare the amendment to the articles of incorporation so as to take effect a change in the date of the annual meeting.
November 12, 1928
President May reported that he and Mr. Christofferson had arranged for a contract for Professional Duncan McRae for the season of 1929, with the the understanding that McRae abstain from any intoxicating liquor of any kind while on duty. A discussion was had regarding Caddy control and to report a recommendation at the next meeting of the Board.
December 10, 1928
Dr. Turnacliff reported that the new well had been tested and examined by the engineer, that there reportedly had been some fill in of sand. The engineer had not yet determined that the well was ready for acceptance. Dr. Turnacliff reported that he was seeking information relative to the draining of sloughs by installing draining wells.
Discussion was held relative to the retention of Duncan McRae as Professional. President May reported that an incidence occurring at the club House wherein McRae was apparently intoxicated and made use of unseemly language in the presence of women employees, all of which occurred subsequent to the conversation between the President and McRae, where McRae faithfully promised not to use intoxicants on club grounds. The president called for a reconsideration of employment. It was approved to create a special committee to find a Professional.
December 18, 1928
Mr. Christofferson reported that the Board had given McRae the advisement that he would not be reemployed in 1929, and would have an opportunity to resign.
December 31, 1928
The Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws as amended were created at the Annual Meeting.