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Comanche Trace

Golf Comes to the Heart of the Hills

Posted by Joe on April 1, 2013 at 4:12 AM

The story of golf coming to Kerrville is told in a rare 1924 edition of Grinstead’s Graphic, a monthly magazine about Kerrville and the Hill Country, published early in the last century by J. E. Grinstead.

The little booklet also tells a story of early real estate development here, which is interesting, too.

Grinstead served Kerrville in many ways, from editing the Kerrville Mountain Sun, to serving as mayor, as president of the school board, and representing this district in the Texas Legislature, where he was elected poet laureate; but mostly, Grinstead was a serial publisher.

After selling the Kerrville Mountain Sun and a kerfuffle during his term as president of the Kerrville school board, he settled down to write pulp westerns and periodically published magazines. His Grinstead’s Monthly and Grinstead’s Graphic magazines are quite collectible; over the years, I thought I’d seen every issue.

Recently though, while trolling through listings on eBay, I ran across a title I’d never seen before. It has a title on the front that tells it all –– “Golf Number.” Please don’t tell Ms. Carolyn, but I bought the magazine.

“Some of the Graphic’s readers complained last month,” Grinstead writes, “because I used a word several times that the preachers talk about every Sunday. Well, you won’t find it in this number. The worst word I’ll use is Golf.”

The little booklet measures about 6 3/4 by 10 inches and, at one time, 32 pages. It was published in October 1924. My copy is missing the middle four pages and is thus, incomplete. It is illustrated with twelve photographs in the story pages, plus five more in the advertisements. (As you know, I’m particularly keen on old Kerrville and Kerr County images.) Like most of Grinstead’s magazines, this one includes some “booster” copy, extolling the unblemished virtues of our neck of the woods, and also a short piece of fiction.

“...Golf has come to Kerrville. It seems strange that in this mountain retreat, where so short a time ago smoke was rising from the campfires of the Comanche, such a modern thing as golf links should be at hand. Fifty years ago [from 1921, that is 1871], a golf course here in these mountains would have been quite a curiosity. Yes, and 50 years ago, a woman with bobbed hair or a man wearing bell-bottomed pants would have been shot for a new kind of varmint. Fifty years ago, if just one automobile had run through Kerr County at night, the population would have been reduced by those who broke their necks trying to get away.

“The world has progressed, and Kerrville has progressed with it. As a step in that progress, the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce, the liveliest civic body I know anything about, decided that Kerrville needed a Country Club and a Golf Course. When the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce decides that their town needs a thing, they go get it.”

Looking over the photographs, I believe this “country club” and its golf course were spread out over the same acreage as today’s Scott Schreiner Municipal Golf Course. Of the images in the little magazine, I have the negatives to two, which helps me know approximately how old they are.

Some of the Graphic’s readers complained last month,” Grinstead writes, “because I used a word several times that the preachers talk about every Sunday. Well, you won’t find it in this number. The worst word I’ll use is Golf.

The golf course had been completed only a few months before the “Golf Number” was published. The early board “of governors” of the Kerrville Country Club were Scott Schreiner, president; E. Galbraith, vice-president; Cecil Robinson, secretary; A.C. Schreiner, Jr., chairman of the golf committee; Ally Bietel, chairman of the finance committee; E.H. Prescott, chairman of the entertainment committee; Dr. J.D. Jackson, chairman of the house committee; Dr. A.A. Roberts, chairman greens committee; and S.H. Huntington, A.B. Williamson, and Hal Peterson rounding out that first board.

Judging from the photographs, it looks like they were taken before work was complete on the course. The clubhouse porch, for instance, has no steps down to the course, and there is a rough workman’s table in front of the porch. And the greens, to be extremely charitable, look a tad rough.

“Through the course runs Quinlan Creek,” Grinstead wrote, “a brawling mountain brook, which affords no less than seven water hazards. No matter where the player may look, he is confronted by natural scenery, mountain, valley and stream. This sporty nine-hole course was designed by John Bredemus, well-known golf engineer and architect. The designs were carried out under the supervision of O.J. Dobkins, who is, at present, the professional in charge of the course. Mr. Dobkins was assisted in the work by Hal Peterson.”

I love Grinstead’s phrase “a brawling mountain brook”. What a picture that presents to the reader.

Grinstead accurately predicted that other courses would be built here.

Consider the layout of Kerrville in those days; the country club was on the far northern edge of town, in what was farm and ranchland, just past the then-new streets of Golf, Prescott, Wheless, and Myrta, which were developed about the same time. As an amenity, this new subdivision had the new golf course. Seeing the names of Hal Peterson and E.H. Prescott among those involved with the course confirms that the development of the new subdivision and the development of the course were guided by many of the same folks.

This pattern continued here later, where a new development boasted a new golf course, just as Grinstead predicted in 1924.

Driving through Comanche Trace, one cannot help but be impressed by the style and type of homes built there, and the way the development addresses the needs of its residents.

Consider, then, as you drive the more humble streets of Wheless and Prescott, that these homes were once in a similarly blessed neighborhood –– blocks of new homes in a new development adjacent to a new golf course. I find it interesting that these blocks attempted to meet the needs of their residents in similar ways to more modern developments, though the definition of those needs have obviously changed over time. Those who moved into that neighborhood in the 1920s would have been astounded by a modern development –– and by a modern golf course.

A few of the older homes are really grand and I’m glad they’ve been preserved. I’m glad, too, that history continues to be made in such places as Comanche Trace. I look forward to seeing what the future brings.

Joe

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