Michael Jamieson, Club Historian
Mike began his service as Club Historian in 1989. He has served on the Board of Directors, Green, History Display and Long Range Planning Committees. He Chaired the Long Range Golf Course Restoration Committee and served as Club President in 2002. He has edited 2 Club History books, written 250 "Blaster" articles for the Club Newsletter primarily on PGCC History and is writing a series of supplemental Club History books.
The Peninsula Golf & Country Club was founded as The Beresford Country Club on December 7, 1911. The initial Members were prominent Jewish families from San Francisco. The initial golf course was designed by noted architect Thomas Bendelow and constructed by E.C. Lydon who would remain at the Club as Superintendent and General Manager for the next 25 years.
The Club officially opened with a 4th of July picnic in 1912 with the golf course opening the following day. The cornerstone of the new Clubhouse was laid a year later on July 4, 1913 and for Member use June 1914. The Club offered tennis and swimming and Members often rode the train from San Francisco and stayed the weekend.
By the early 1920's the original golf course was too small and outdated (despite having once hosted Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in 1913 in an exhibition match). Club President Walter Stettheimer had ideas ; Acquire additional land and get the finest golf course architect of his time to design a new, championship course. The land could be had, but Donald Ross was another matter. Ross did not want to take time away from the busy summer schedule where he was in demand in the east. After a flurry of telegrams and letters, Stettheimer won the day and Donald Ross made the long trip to California for a three weeks visit in July 1922. In addition to completely redesigning the Beresford Country Club course, he traveled as far south as Los Angeles looking for other potential jobs but found none. E. C. Lydon constructed the Club's second course on the property. Nine new holes opened Sunday September 2, 1923 with the second nine the following Spring. Overseeing playing the new championship course was a personal Ross recommendation, fellow Scotsman, Professional Willie Nicoll who went on to serve 31 years at the Club.
Whether it was the economic times of the 1930's or an aging of a San Francisco based Membership, by the late 1930's the Membership rolls had taken a steep decline. Mrs. Helen Lengfeld, a Champion golfer, founder of Women's and Girl's Golf Associations and a tireless VA volunteer, teemed up with new Member Ben Follett to revamp the Club. They tirelessly bought up old Memberships for as little as $ 1 so the Club might have a chance to recycle them and start fresh.
Helen funded a large "Get Acquainted" picnic of food, golf, swimming and tennis for all the local business, professional and social families in the local area. Gone was the "San Francisco Jewish Family" prerequisite. It was a new Club for a new day. open to all faiths. What better day to choose than the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the original articles of incorporation?
Dec. 7, 1941.
At about 11:30 am local time word started spreading across the golf course about Pearl Harbor. By 12:30 pm the Club was deserted with everyone racing home. 3 months later The Membership dipped below 25 Members and stayed there. Somehow the Club survived. 50 acres of land was sold for $1000 / acre for taxes. Members took turn mowing greens, and even cooking dinner when the Clubhouse was open. In 1945 as the war ended the Beresford CC became The Peninsula Golf & CC with Ben Follett as President. It was time to rebuild.
The Club offered a great local family atmosphere after the preceding grim years. The Clubhouse was spruced up, some necessary changes made to the course and as Members joined, the finances got better and better (Club slot machines didn't hurt). Everyone owned a car now, so the entrance was moved to the front with parking, the baby boomers turned out in droves to swim so the swim area was expanded and tennis was constantly upgraded.
Despite constant upgrades, the 1989 earthquake focused attention on the Clubhouse. In the 1990's a $7.5 million Clubhouse renovation was passed and implemented, which included the Club's first fitness facility and the Helen Lengfeld Library. A few years later the golf course improvement plan was passed and implemented which not only significantly improved drainage on the course through sand capping but restored most of the original 1922 Donald Ross design features that had been lost in the previous 80 years. PGCC is the only Donald Ross course on the west coast. A new pro shop was added with an adjoining "Donald Ross" room. In 2002 The Club began presenting the Ben Follett Award to a Member who had provided inspirational volunteer service to the Club.
In mid 20-teens, PGCC again wrestled with facility issues. After much study The Membership approved a new golf course maintenance facility and an extensive Clubhouse renovation that included a new pool. locker rooms, three new restaurants and a new Wellness facility with a classroom The Clubhouse reopened in May, 2017, just a few weeks from its first opening 103 years before. While the facilities are unsurpassed, it has always been the foresight of the Members that has allowed the Club to transition to the future.