History of Druid Hills
The Birth of the Druid Hills Golf Club was cited by the Atlanta Journal on July 7, 1912, which said: "Druid Hills, the corporation owning 1650 acres of land extending from Moreland Avenue to Decatur, closed the contract yesterday for the building of the new 18-hole golf course and the clubhouse. The golf and club grounds will be located on the north side of Ponce de Leon Avenue, extending back to the North Decatur Road and embracing about 100 acres of beautiful land".
Mr. J. Carroll Payne, Lowry Arnold and I.A. Hammond applied to the Superior Court for the Charter.
The golf course was designed by Mr. H.H. Barker, of Garden City, one of the best known golf experts in the United States, and the winner of the 1911 professional tournament at East Lake. Mr. Barker spent several weeks on the grounds and after completing the plans stated" "This course will be the best in the South as there are no parallel fair greens and cross holes. There are two beautiful streams meandering through the course and many other natural hazards".
The contract for removing trees, grubbing, plowing and planting the grass was given to the Dysard Construction Company, and the work was begun Monday morning, July 8, 1912.
The Ponce de Leon streetcar, which stopped at the Lullwater Bridge, was at once extended out one-half mile to afford easy access to the clubhouse. The club received its Charter September 24, 1912, signed by Arnold Broyles, who was then Clerk of the Superior Court of Fulton County. Atlantans with unassailable social positions petitioned for the charter.
Since most of the charter members were enthusiastic opera fans, it was significant that Druid Hills Golf Club’s first official party was a "Southern Barbeque," honoring stars and officials of the Metropolitan Opera Association and directors of Atlanta’s Musical Festival Association. The fete established the club as a supporter of classical music and a champion of the Met.
Each year when its myriad of lovely dogwood trees were in full bloom, its handsome doors were flung wide to entertain the Met family, usually with its now famous noon barbeques with guests gathering on the spacious lawns under the trees.
On October 17, 1921 President and Mrs. Harding visited Atlanta. The distinguished couple arrived at 1:00 P.M. from Columbus, where the president had inspected Fort Benning. After brief greetings, the group was on its way by automobile to the Druid Hills Golf Club, where a luncheon was tendered the President and the men in his party. Mrs. Harding and the ladies committee stopped briefly before going on to the Lee Ashcraft home in Druid Hills, where Mrs. Ashcraft entertained at a luncheon.
In common with most of Atlanta’s clubs, Druid Hills Golf Club suffered from the ravages of fire, notably in May 1924, when the clubhouse was gutted for a $100,000 loss. It was promptly rebuilt.
In 1936 the Druid Hills Women’s Golf Association was organized. Mrs. Arthur Mims appeared before the Board of Directors, requesting that the ladies be allowed to form their own golf association. Permission was granted and Mrs. Henry Barrow served as the association’s first President. Mrs. Colleen Butler was the first women’s club champion.
The Dogwood Invitational Tournament, held annually at Druid Hills from 1941 to 1972 drew many of the finest amateur golfers in the United States to Atlanta. The history of the tournament is both interesting and unique. It was organized by a committee composed of Harry Stephens (Golf Pro), Jimmy Wilson (President), and Dr. Julius Hughes. In Dr. Hughes’ own words, "prior to 1941 the accepted amateur tournament was medal qualifying and match play elimination. It was an accepted fact that the lack of experience in medal play was responsible for many fine amateur golfers failing to qualify in various tournaments; so it was decided to hold the "Dogwood" early in the Spring as a medal competition, and thus better prepare the amateurs for the following qualifying rounds in regularly scheduled sections, state and local tournaments. It was regarded as a method of establishing the best golfer during this particular event. The subsequent trend in amateur tournaments to this type of play could very well be traced to the first "Dogwood".