Glen Garden Country Club celebrates 100th anniversary

Wendell Waddle, 81, fondly remembers the good ol' days when greens fees were $1 for a round of golf at Glen Garden Country Club. The course wasn't much older than Waddle when he began shagging balls for Byron Nelson.

Waddle is the club's resident historian. He has books of news clippings, photos and club minutes from as far back as 1936. His memories of Glen Garden date to 1938 when he began working as a caddie at the tender age of 8.

Waddle's recall is hazy on only one thing about Glen Garden: How many rounds he has played there.

"It's funny," said Waddle, a former pro golfer who now is a 12 handicap. "I was thinking about that the other day. I can't even estimate, but it'd be way up there."

John Hostetter, 93, is the only member who has been at Glen Garden longer than Waddle. Waddle was there almost from the beginning, growing up on the course before leaving and coming back.

Glen Garden, now a semi-private club, turns 100 this month and will celebrate the occasion with a tournament Saturday. The course is the second-oldest country club in Fort Worth behind only River Crest, which opened in 1911.

Glen Garden started with a nine-hole golf course with sand greens. It was designed by John Bredemus and built on a prairie owned by H.H. Cobb of the O.K. Cattle Company. Another nine holes was added a year or two later.

Before becoming professional golfers, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan worked as caddies at Glen Garden in the 1920s. Nelson's one-stroke victory over Hogan in the annual caddy tournament in 1927 is one of the most revered moments in Fort Worth's sports history.

Nelson also won the club championship in 1930.

Glen Garden is the only club where Nelson and Hogan were members. Sandra Palmer, who won 19 LPGA events, including the 1975 U.S. Women's Open, grew up on the No. 3 green and also got her start there.

"It does have a lot of history," said Clarence Dowdy, a member since 1964, "and it is very important for this part of town."

The club has been in financial trouble several times through the years. It went through bankruptcy in 1936. The late Tom Brown, a Coca-Cola Bottling Co. executive, bailed out the club on more than one occasion during his 30-year membership.

In 1999, members Dowdy, Bob Ellis and Malcolm Tallmon loaned Glen Garden money for a new 10,000-square-foot clubhouse as part of a $1.5 million rehab intended to attract new members. Dowdy and Tallmon now are part of the management committee, having bought out Ellis' share after Ellis' death.

"They couldn't pay the money back, and that's how we wound up with it," said Dowdy, 84.

Gas money has helped keep it going since.

The club began with 22 members and once had more than 500. With no initiation fee and dues of $144 a month, Glen Garden now has 125 members.

More than 23,000 rounds were played on the par-71 course last year, according to club pro Jason Rocha, with 25,000 to 27,000 rounds expected this year.

The 6,166-yard course got new greens two years ago, but the layout remains unchanged from a century ago when Waddle made the 3-mile walk from his parents' home on Riverside Drive.

He made 35 cents as a caddy for nine holes and 75 cents for 18 holes. He used the money for clothes, shoes and movie tickets.

"It wasn't a lot of money, but it was to us at the time," said Waddle, who later worked in the pro shop.

Waddle now lives on Lake Alvarado, but he can be found at Glen Garden at least three days a week. He is as much a part of the course's history as Nelson and Hogan.

"It has been like a second home to me," Waddle said.

Charean Williams


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