Spring Brook Country Club History
Spring Brook Country Club was incorporated on June 1, 1921 by a group of Morristown business and professional men. It was constructed on approximately 180 acres of land leased from Robert Dumont Foote.
Spring Brook Country Club was incorporated on June 1, 1921 by a group of Morristown business and professional men. It was constructed on approximately 180 acres of land leased from Robert Dumont Foote. The land was part of Spring Brook Farm, his 750 acre estate which included the Armstrong Brick Company. Foote, who was President of the National Iron Bank, helped Spring Brook flourish in its early years through his foresight and generosity.
In 2008, Spring Brook Country Club was added to the list of Walter J. Travis designed courses by The Travis Society (the recognized authority on Walter Travis). This recognition came 87 years after the fact, confirming the relationship between Travis and Spring Brook that had long been speculation. The only connection between the two was an article in the Club’s possession from The True Republican Banner (a local newspaper long out of circulation) which places Walter Travis on the R.D. Foote estate in May, 1921 surveying the grounds and “laying out a tentative course of 6,000 yards” for the newly formed Spring Brook Country Club.
In the summer of 2008, two other sources came to light that corroborate the role Travis played in Spring Brook’s development. The Jerseyman (a precursor of The Daily Record) and The Morristown Topic, two local newspapers with distributions in the 1920’s, both confirm that Walter Travis was at Spring Brook in the spring of 1921, checking the suitability of the land for a golf course, determining that “a good 18 hole course” could be made of the grounds, and laying out the original design of the course.
The SBCC course was formally opened for play July 4, 1922. Membership dues were established at $60 annually; $25 for Associate Members. William J. Glancey, who assisted in the construction of the course, was hired as Spring Brook’s first Professional at $75 a month. He was then given the added job of green keeper for an additional $50 a month, and was authorized to hire a caddie master at $30 a month. Carl V. Vogt, an attorney, was elected the Club’s first President. SBCC originally had 50 charter members, including Charles Horsefield who, in 1951, was the last of the founders to die. Plans and specifications for a clubhouse were approved March 13, 1922 and included construction, landscaping and a cesspool. Two tennis courts and trap shooting pits were also authorized and were installed in a field to the left of the 18th green.
The clubhouse was opened September 27, 1922. Robert Foote, and his family, contributed much of the original furnishings to the Clubhouse. The lease with Foote stipulated that the contract could be renewed every 20 years, providing the property was maintained as a private club. At his own expense, Foote had the entrance road to the clubhouse installed, and he was responsible for having Morris Township re-construct and maintain Old Brick Road (which is now Spring Brook Road). When R.D. Foote died in 1924, a page in the minute book was reserved in his memory. Spring Brook recognizes its early benefactor through the Annual R.D. Foote Tournament, and has named its Club newsletter "Foote-Notes" in his honor. On September 7, 1954, the Club members purchased Spring Brook from R.D. Foote’s heirs.
When the Club opened, John Tos was in charge as steward. Not until 1946 was a full-time club manager employed. The first was John Seguine, a member. His wife assisted him and they maintained quarters in the Club. For several years after the opening of the clubhouse, alcoholic beverages were not permitted on the premises.
The initial meeting of members in the clubhouse was conducted April 23, 1923 and the Club’s By-Laws were adopted. The following month, Spring Brook became a member of the New Jersey State Golf Association, the Metropolitan Golf Association and the U.S. Golf Association.
Over the years, the Club has played host to many celebrities, including Jess Sweetser, a former U.S. and British Amateur Champion, Sam Snead and Gary Player, who were frequent visitors. Snead and Player gave exhibitions over Armstrong Pond demonstrating their skill at maneuvering The Gauntlet, Spring Brook’s three consecutive par 3’s around the pond.
The decades have seen considerable additions to the facilities at Spring Brook. In 1954, Spring Brook installed a competition size swimming pool, and, in 1999 a new pool house and snack bar facility were constructed. Four all-weather tennis courts and four platform tennis courts have been upgraded with new Har-Tru surfaces. In 1992, a completely new Golf Pro Shop was built near the first tee.
On November 29, 1998, Spring Brook’s new clubhouse was opened, replacing the original structure which had been damaged in 1996 by one of the most severe blizzards of the century. The new structure is larger than the original, but occupies the same site, on an incline overlooking The Gauntlet and the picturesque Armstrong Pond.
Over the years, the SBCC course has been evaluated by several celebrated architects, including Dave Gordon, the architect for Stanwich Country Club in Greenwich Connecticut and Saucon Valley Country Club. Based on an aerial view of the course and a walk through, Gordon made several recommendations to the membership. The most significant concerned the 1st hole, which he called “one of the most beautiful opening holes” he had ever seen. He recommended, and the membership approved, the removal of a bunker which cut off 1/3 of the left side of the green, making the shot too difficult to maneuver, and unnecessarily discouraging golfers at the start of their round.
Hal Purdy, who designed Farimount and Navesink Country Clubs also had a hand in Spring Brook’s evolution. As a result of his evaluation and suggestions, many of the greens were reconfigured so that instead of being flat, they were given subtle contours. In 2000 Spring Brook’s course was renovated by golf architect Ken Dye whose three objectives were, “to improve the overall golf experience at Spring Brook, to integrate the improvements within the context of the existing golf course and to update the course relative to changes in the way golf is played.” Although some of Dye’s changes were significant, the location and sequence of the holes remained intact and the overall result was a more consistent look.
A new halfway house was built between holes 9 and 10, adjacent to Armstrong Pond, and a state of the art driving range was constructed behind the building. In 2002 a larger Tennis Hut replaced the original one to accommodate the growing number of families participating in Spring Brook’s comprehensive Tennis/Paddle Program.
Nine Golf Professionals have served Spring Brook. Glancey was succeeded by Walter Gurly, who was followed by Jack Mitchell, a legendary figure as a player and as an official of the New Jersey PGA. Following Mitchell, Glancey returned for a second term as Golf Pro from 1942 – 1951. His successors include: Jack Maloney in 1951, Alan McClay in 1961, Lloyd Monroe in 1968, Don Vallario in 1972, George Deitz in 2003 and Tony Santillo in 2008.
Over the years Spring Brook has hosted numerous tournaments for the New Jersey State Golf Association, the Metropolitan Golf Association and the New Jersey Professional Golf Association, including: the 1949 State PGA Championship, the New Jersey State Open in 1955, 1958, 1965, 1973 and 2010; the New Jersey State Amateur in 1991 and in 2004, the MGA Senior Championship in 1994, the Women’s Met Open in 1999 and the New Jersey Senior PGA Championship in 2001.
In addition to the R.D. Foote Tournament, monthly Member/Guest Days and many Championships/Tournaments throughout the season, Spring Brook’s annual golf program includes its prestigious President’s Cup, Men’s and Women’s Club Championships and its signature Travis Invitational.
Traditionally, Spring Brook’s outstanding social events highlight each season. Long-standing favorites include: Summer Grills, Poolside Barbecues, Children’s Summer Sports Programs, Lobster Nights, its Annual Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks Display, Halloween Activities, Family-Style Thanksgiving Dinners, Sunday Brunches, “Dinner with Santa,” and its Annual Holly Ball.
A gem in the heart of Morristown, Spring Brook has become one of New Jersey’s most successful private clubs. As the years go by, Spring Brook continues to evolve. While maintaining its rich history and traditions, Spring Brook offers new activities every season, and looks forward to creating new traditions with its growing family of members.