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Sacramento’s First Municipal Golf Course

The first Municipal Golf Course in Sacramento was authorized by E. J. Carragher, the Commissioner of Parks for the City of Sacramento. Built in the Del Paso Park area the course was originally scheduled to be opened as an 18 hole golf course. However, due to budget constraints, the completed Arcade Golf Course course opened as a 9 hole course in late 1916.

Arcade Golf Course was located about two miles northeast of the present day Haggin Oaks clubhouse and was bordered on the east by Auburn Boulevard and on the west by Arcade Creek. Its tees were composed of hard packed dirt mixed with a clay-like substance. Natural vegetation rather than planted grass served as fairways. During the spring and the rainy season a swath was cut through the vegetation to form the fairways. The greens were slabs of asphalt 30-40 feet in diameter covered with a thick layer of sand. During the hot summer months, because there was no planted grass and no irrigation, no tournaments were scheduled. Only the most hardy and enthusiastic golfer played in the summer. In 1917, the annual dues for the Sacramento Golf Club were $3. The greens fees were 25¢ for 9 holes or 50¢ all day.

The first professional hired by the Parks Department in September of 1917 was William Selkirk. After Selkirk left to become the professional at Del Paso Country Club, Rudy Malarin was hired and remained the Pro at Arcade until he was later transferred to Land Park in 1932.

On February 2, 1917, the first Sacramento Municipal Golf Association was formed. The President elect was Vactor T. Chambers, Vice President was Fred S. Peck, Secretary was I.W. Galehouse and the Treasurer was C.C. Snyder.

The first Club Championship was played at scratch in 1919, a metro Chicago native named Jess Childs the the first Club Championship. It was not until 1923 and 1924 that a strictly local Sacramentan, Cliff Hamilton, won the Club Championship. Also during this time, Challenge Ladders were considered the only fair way to chose the best golfers for matches. A player could challenge, for a fee, anyone of five members above him on the ladder. All matches were played according to handicap. If the challenger won, he occupied the position of the defeated player and his fees were refunded. If he lost, he remained in his position, but the fees were added to the club treasury. If the challenged player lost, he dropped one position below that which he had held when challenged.

On May 25, 1924, William Land Golf Course opened for play. This was the first municipal course in Sacramento to have planted grass, yet it remained a 9 hole course. The appointment of a golf pro and completion of the clubhouse did not take place until 1925. As expected, most tournaments were then transferred to William Land from Arcade. The Board of Directors and members also adopted Land Park as its home course. As expected, due to declining popularity, the Arcade Golf Course, Sacramento’s first Municipal Golf Course was closed by the city in May 1933.

Excerpts taken from, History of Men’s Golf in the Sacramento Area, written by Dr. Milton F. Fenner. Publishers Sierra Copy and Printing Co., © 1978, Sacramento, CA


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