One of the Best of the West

To look at the history of Lakewood Country Club (LCC) is to look at the history of the Denver metro area itself. Three Colorado pioneers—Charles C. Welch, Sr., along with William A. H. Loveland and his wife Miranda A. Loveland—built a railroad connecting Denver to Golden. In 1889 they platted a 48-acre block between Harlan  Street, Teller Street, West Colfax Avenue, and West Tenth Avenue. They named the area “Lakewood,” which then became part of the train line’s name: the Denver, Lakewood, and Golden (DL&G) railroad.

Though the train line went into receivership in 1890 due to the death of William and the defunct townsite, in 1904, the line was resurrected by real estate investors. They renamed it the Denver and Intermountain streetcar line. The investors envisioned a streetcar suburb and planned a golf course that was surrounded by splendid neighborhood development.

Legend has it that a hilly and dusty course originated in 1905, with nine holes featuring dirt fairways and sandy greens. In 1908, the Colorado Golf Club incorporated, purchased 112 acres of farmland, and established itself with the original mailing address of “Golf, Colorado,” generating excitement for the sport. There were only a few courses in the state, with Colorado Golf Club being the easiest to get to from the metro area. Tom Bendelow designed the first course, and the 18 holes included rolling nature and many natural hazards, making it uniquely adapted for an ideal golf course.

The grounds not only held the course, but included a grand clubhouse, baseball and tennis grounds, and an oval-shaped racetrack. Seeing the popularity of country clubs across the country, the members changed the name. They erected an arch emblazoned with “Lakewood Country Club” across the entrance into the grounds.

“Our founders set the stage for the future. They were competitive, hard-charging individuals with a unique vision,   leadership, and management skills...The early members were competitive, generous, hardworking...Golf had to be an outlet for a lot of them. They played hard, gambled hard, drank, and smoked a lot.” - Larry McAtee, second - generation LCC member

In 1913, LCC opened for the social season with a dinner dance at the clubhouse. Tragedy struck soon after when the clubhouse burned to the ground. A new club-   house was erected the same year, and the game of golf started to boom in the United States. The club hosted Colorado’s State Golf Tournament and the Colorado Match Play Championship, one of the oldest, continuous golf championships in Colorado. This marked the beginning of the club’s growing reputation, and LCC has hosted the state’s premier golfing events ever since.

In 1916, the course underwent a redesign by world-renowned golf course designer Donald Ross. With much fanfare, the club hosted the State Golf Tournament on   the new course the same year. Businessmen crowded the streetcar from Denver and flocked to the club on the weekends as membership increased through the 1920s. To meet the demand, the club expanded the clubhouse, including the addition of a large dining room, a lounge room, and a larger men’s grill room and doubling the size of the ladies’ quarters. LCC was regarded as one of the most prestigious destinations and often hosted luncheons, dinners, anniversaries, and annual meetings for many organizations. It was a place where people wanted to be and wanted to be seen.

Though the game of golf continued, times were lean through the 30s and 40s as the country was focused on the events in Europe and eventually taking part in the war. LCC did its part by offering special privileges to the military during WWII and hosting defense savings bond matches and Red Cross sweepstakes. As the   war ended, the defense workers stationed at the Denver Ordinance Plant—now known as the Denver Federal Center—planted roots and brought their families to   the neighborhoods surrounding the club. Membership began to soar, and the club became known as the powerhouse of golf champions, producing victories in local and state tournaments.

In 1948, the clubhouse once again was struck by fire; it burned from 5:15 a.m. on December 23 to 3:00 p.m. the following day, leaving only the exterior walls standing. The blaze is on record as the longest-running fire to date. A newly constructed $225,000 clubhouse opened in the fall of 1949 with “modernistic” design elements and large windows to take advantage of the grounds. Expansions in 1971 and 1986 enlarged the clubhouse to 70,000 square feet and included a second story that could take advantage of the Front Range mountain views.

Tournaments still continued, and in the 50s, the club played host to state, local, regional, and national championships, including the LPGA Mile High Open. In 1961, holes 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, and 14 were redesigned by J. Press Maxwell. In 1965, the club played host to the USGA Women’s Amateur Championships. This was the first time the championship was held in Colorado, and it gave the club the national attention it deserved.

Lakewood was officially designated a city in 1969, and the 70s saw social events flourish at the club. Membership for the club grew, and its reputation for fantastic golf and amenities increased. The club played host to six Cardinals during World Youth Day in 1995 and has hosted several local and national dignitaries through the years. 

In 2005, the club broke ground for a new clubhouse and opened its doors in 2007. A new pool, poolhouse, and large fitness center followed and opened in 2008. In 2017, the course underwent a renovation led by Gil Hanse, restoring the course to Donald Ross’s 1916 design. Eight of the holes were relocated and reconstructed, including some new sand traps. Five holes will get new tee boxes to extend the course by 190 yards. The course upgrades now present the golfer with risk-and-reward types of shots.

Through our over 100-year history, the club has produced some of Colorado's greatest golf champions. LCC prides itself on being a friendly and accessible place where members appreciate the sport of golf and also enjoy the club’s vibrant social life.