Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Golf under Gaslight: Woodbury Country Club

My extensive article on the life and death of the Woodbury Country Club (1897- 2009) has been published and is now available in the new Bulletin of the Gloucester County Historical Society, Vol. 34, No. 2. For more information on how you can receive this quarterly bulletin and support the greatest source for local history, please visit the GCHS website.

Featured below is a small excerpt from my article containing some rare photos which were not able to be published in the GCHS Bulletin. Enjoy!

Although it is hard to ascertain exactly where the Woodbury Country Club falls in the chronology of earliest golf courses and country clubs in America, it does most certainly rank among the first 200. It was, however, the very first in the country, if not the world, to provide a fully lighted course; a remarkable feat at the time. In 1911, both the entire golf course and tennis courts were illuminated by towering Welsbach gas light fixtures to the joy of club members wishing to extend their playing time into the night. The idea was introduced by Thomas J. Little, one of the directors of WCC at that time and not coincidentally, engineer for the Welsbach Lighting Company. The gas was supplied by the Public Service Gas Company. Numerous articles in Scientific American and various lighting journals of the day wrote about the amazing engineering feat of evenly illuminating the entire field and tennis courts. It was noted that the light was so effective that a golf ball could still be clearly seen at a distance of 200 feet. The January 1912 issue of Good Lighting and the Illuminating Engineer wrote, "It has been found at Woodbury that the [tennis] courts are patronized on an average of three hours an evening, with all courts filled, and a number on the waiting list." The article goes on to state that spectators lined up nightly along the fence to watch the game. What a testament of just how popular the Club was back then, even at night!

A great historical diagram showing the original golf course layout.