Charles R. Hall developed Lakewood Estates and Golf Course in the early 1920’s during the land boom. The boom came down with a crash, followed by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It is unlikely that the history of Lakewood Country Club can be reconstructed in full for the benefit of our own future generations.
The Invitational Golf Tournament became the Lakewood New Year’s Invitational – the oldest sustained Amateur Golf Tournament in the country.
Lakewood Country Club, as a corporation, did not exist at that early date. We do know that an Invitational Golf Tournament originated on the Lakewood golf course in 1927. This same Amateur Invitational Tournament continues, unbroken, each year. It became the Lakewood New Year’s Invitational – the oldest sustained Amateur Golf Tournament in the country.
In the fall of 1935, a number of interested citizens planned for the purchase of the Lakewood Golf Course. On October 7, 1935, a petition for the organization and incorporating of a corporation, not for profit, was made through the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida – “In re” Lakewood Country Club, Inc. a Corporation Not for Profit.
Petition granted and charter secured, Lakewood Country Club, Inc., through its Governors and Officers, resolved to purchase the Lakewood Golf Course and describe properties belonging to E.R. Sheldon as Receiver and National Bond and Mortgage Company for the sum of $40,000. The described properties included the original clubhouse of Spanish architecture built in 1933, also two mules for mowing and maintenance.
The Clubhouse had a large dining room with an exterior wall of stone, a massive raised fireplace in the center and two large birdcages built into the wall, opening outside and inside, one on either side of the fireplace. The roof was designed to roll back and display the shining stars, very unusual and greatly enjoyed at dinner and dances.
In 1938, two tennis courts were built for $1,800 on the site of the present courts. However, they deteriorated and the area was used during the war as a parking lot.
During the years of World War II, activities were restricted. The Entertainment Committee reported in 1943, “no meeting, no funds, no action, no expenditures, no receipts, no fun” due to the shortage of gasoline and continued rationing programs. To help the transportation problem, a wagon was hitched to the two mules and met at the end of the streetcar line.
Following the war years, sport and social activities quickly returned to normal. The New Year’s Invitational strengthened itself as a popular and premier Golf Tournament. The Professional Golf Tour held nine open events on the Lakewood course, providing our city and club much excitement and prestige. Many of our members played in the Pro-am with the likes of Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Ray Floyd and other top name players.
The tennis courts are of finest quality and encourage an active tennis membership.
A swimming pool had been built after the war to enhance the club’s overall recreation facilities. Eleven tennis courts and a Pro Shop were constructed in 1966. The courts are of finest quality and encourage an active tennis membership.
In October 1970, the old clubhouse of Spanish architecture was destroyed by fire. Though food & beverage and social activities became limited, athletic events continued without interruption. In 2000-01, the golf course and clubhouse underwent $2.5 million in renovations and the club’s name was changed to St. Petersburg Country Club. Coordination and cooperation of all club members brought forth the present Clubhouse with the least possible delay.
Today, St. Petersburg Country Club is a well-rounded country club, offering its members all the amenities and facilities for enjoyable sporting and social activities such as golf, tennis, swimming, yoga, weight lifting, cardio, dances, parties, and much more! As its first manager put it, “Lakewood is unique, with much history.” The members today are enjoying a club that exists through hard work and financial sacrifice by a lot of people. Knowing something from its past history, we may more fully appreciate what we have.