When I was writing the history of Charlotte Country Club a few years ago, I spent a lot of time gathering up all of the facts and figures but it didn't take me long to find the essence of this grand old place where golf took root in this city.
It was there in the pages of Katherine Wooten Springs' short history "Our Club." She wrote:
"To older members it is a place of Once Upon A Time. Every room in the clubhouse brings back memories, because the past is so many things to many people. History is made through fragments of sentiment.
"Memories have a way of gathering luster with age. Gardenias for a bride. A haunting song. A tennis trophy. A silver golf cup. The lace of a debutante's fan.
"To the young people the club is a challenge, a fantasy come true for a little girl who grows up to be a bride throwing her bouquet from the ballroom balcony, or a fantasy for a little boy who grows up to win the tennis or golf championship.
"Members both living and dead have made it what it is, a thing of dignity, romance and entertainment."
Gardenias for a bride. A haunting song. The lace of a debutante's fan. A silver golf cup. Katherine Wooten Springs had the eye of an artist and wrote with the words of a poet.
The Charlotte City Amateur returns to Charlotte Country Club Sunday, when 20 or so survivors of two earlier rounds at other courses will settle things. They will, of course, be immersed in thoughts of birdies and bogeys. Competitive golf doesn't allow a lot of time for studying the clouds or admiring the great old trees or watching the breeze ripple the pond but even if you don't think of it walking down old paths like these, you are feeling history's soft embrace.
Those are the oldest fairways in Charlotte, on a course that was born in 1910, back when Harry Vardon, Johnny McDermott and Freddie McLeod were among the top players in a world and Walter Hagen was starting to draw attention.
Back when people sat in porch swings and drank lemonade, when William Howard Taft (a certifiable golf nut) was president, when few homes had electricity and fewer still had a telephone. Back when a newspaper ad offered four-quart cases of six-year-old whiskey "for table, medicinal or cooking purposes," for $2.50. Back when...
The golf course has undergone changes over the years, as most courses do. The clubhouse recently underwent an extensive renovation.
But Charlotte Country Club remains the thing of dignity, romance and entertainment that Katherine Wooten Springs wrote about so eloquently.
To play there in the City Am or alone in the late afternoon with your bag on your shoulder, when the only sounds are coming from the trees and the years hang in the air, is a gift to be treasured.