The Oconomowoc Golf Club traces its ancestry back through The Oconomowoc Country Club, The Country Club of Oconomowoc, The Grand View Company, The Lac LaBelle Golf Club…to the Folsom Avenue Club near the shores of Lake Michigan.
It all began in 1894 when a rough course of 9 holes was laid out on the Mariner family farm on Milwaukee’s east side. The Folsom Avenue Club was short lived, merging within a couple of years into the Milwaukee Country Club. Some years later, John Mariner was one of the original Founders of the Grand View Company.
By the early 1900’s, the Oconomowoc lake country had become popular with well-to-do families from Milwaukee and Chicago. Among those attracted was John Mariner and family. In November of 1915, a five member group, led by Mariner, announced the formation of the Grand View Company and the acquisition of a 200 acre tract of land on Highway P just north of Oconomowoc. As was the practice at the time, the Grand View holding company then leased the land to the golf club which was to be named the The Country Club of Oconomowoc.
In addition to Mariner of the Mariner Realty Company, and builder of the 22 story Wisconsin Tower, the following were among the initial subscribers to the newly formed club: George Miller, W. H. Miller, Gustave and Fred Pabst of Pabst Brewing and Pabst Farms, R.W. Houghton, President of Wilber Lumber Company and a Director of the First Wisconsin National Bank, G. P. Earling, Charles Norris, Lawrence Fitch and attorney Francis Bloodgood—all from Milwaukee; Chicagoans A.F. Earling, President of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St, Paul railroad, George Peek, Mrs. Frank Hallen, Arthur Dixon, Harry Hart, founder of Hart, Schaffner & Marx, W.R. Moorhouse, D.J. Schuyt, V.R. Cahn and Zella Merrick; and from New York, P.A. Valentine. They all had at least two things in common. They loved the sport of golf and owned country places near the proposed golf course.
The already renowned Donald Ross of Scotland was immediately retained as the course designer—a decision that has made Oconomowoc the distinctive course that it remains today. (Click on the Donald Ross tab to learn more about him and how he transformed golf course design.)
The spring of 1916 marked the beginning of construction on the new course personally laid out by Mr. Ross, and Club officers predicted the opening for play in 1917. Unfortunately, America’s entry into WWI soon interrupted and construction ceased after the completion of 9 holes. Oconomowoc was to remain a 9-hole course until 1924.
The Country Club of Oconomowoc weathered the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression which threatened to shut the course down because of financial issues and resulted in a reorganization as the Oconomowoc Country Club.
The immense impact of World War II caused Oconomowoc to revert back to a nine-hole course due to a shortage of players as well as staff. It’s not clear when the back nine was restored, but a 1950 aerial photograph confirms only nine active holes. The post-war prosperity of the 1950’s helped boost golf’s popularity and Oconomowoc shared in the sport’s growth as it began to evolve into the club it is today.
In 1962, a long awaited new clubhouse was constructed on one of the highest elevations in Waukesha County, replacing the remodeled farmhouse which had served as the clubhouse since 1918. The current clubhouse was completed in 2002 providing a grand view of a ”natural golf course” that is completely in synch with the hill studded Lake Country landscape.
In 1995 an aggressive course renovation program recommitted to the original Donald Ross design while greatly enhancing the quality of play on all 18 holes as well as the practice facility. Continuing course improvements include the removal of hundreds of trees in recent years and the reseeding of all fairways with performance proven Bentgrass in 2008.
In 2016, as Oconomowoc Golf Club celebrates its rich history, we look forward to the future in a fiscally strong position and dedicated to maintaining the mission, the values and standards that have served us so well for the past 100 years.