Way Back When... 1957
Updated 3:45 pm, Thursday, June 15, 2017
The golf season is in full swing and what better place to celebrate it by playing 18 but the Country Club of Darien.
Edgar S. Auchincloss was the visionary and founder of The Country Club of Darien.
Mr. Auchincloss’s parents acquired the 140-acre farm in the early 1900s as a vacation retreat for the sum of $10,000. The Club property at one time was a working farm, dating back to the 1700s. The farm was renamed Keewaydin, from Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha,” and the Auchincloss family added a few cows, pigs and chickens, as well as resident farmhands to work the estate.
By the 1950s, the estate had become an expensive luxury. To meet these changing conditions, Mr. Auchincloss’s mother, Catherine, agreed to convert the land to an income producing property. A country club development was approved in the hope that Members’ dues would provide funds to relieve her of the personal expense of “carrying the land.”
The Club broke ground in August of 1956 with 400 members. The first nine holes of the golf course were opened to play in July, 1957. The Club initially had six tennis courts, a swimming pool and a Clubhouse. The following year, two paddle courts were added, and the second nine holes of the golf course were completed. When the first nine opened, Catherine Auchincloss teed off the first ball.
The Members elected a Board of Governors to supervise the operation of the Club. The first chairman was James J. Cochran, an advertising executive. He and his Board created Committees to control and operate the new Club and ensure that the new Club was set on a successful financial course.
In 1986, to ensure the continuity of the Club after his death, Mr. Auchincloss made a very generous offer that allowed the Membership to buy the Club property. Over the ensuing 30+ years, the Club facilities and grounds have been renovated and expanded at the cost of several million dollars to continue to provide its Members with the best athletic and social facilities in Fairfield County.
While true to its original structure, the current course was virtually re-built and modernized during a three year project ending in early 2010 by renowned golf course architect, Dr. Michael Hurdzan. His work at The Country Club of Darien was given the Renovation of the Year Award (for a renovation of over $4 million) in 2010 by Golf Inc. magazine and is now acknowledged as one of the finest courses in the country. Dr. Hurdzan received the prestigious Old Tom Morris Award at 2013 Golf Course Superintendents Association of America show, its highest honor.
The Country Club of Darien has assumed an important place in the life of the surrounding communities. We are all privileged to be Members of the Club and are forever indebted to Edgar Auchincloss for his vision and generosity, which have culminated in the extraordinary facilities we enjoy today. In memory of him, the large meeting room on the second floor is named The Edgar S. Auchincloss Room.