100 Years Ago-Club History
In the early 1800’s Henry Raymond owned the farmland property that we currently enjoy as a golf course. Mr. Raymond sold the 119-acre farmland to the Reverend Charles Fox in 1843 and it was known as Fox Farms. After the Reverend passed away, the family sold the land to Louis D. Rucker in 1873. Mr. Rucker built a family home on the Northwest corner of the property in 1875 (see front cover photo).
Just north of our property, in what today is Jewell Colony subdivision, was a 9-hole golf course called Island Country Club. In the early 1900’s, the Club (apparently owned by the Rucker’s) hired architect George B. Ferry to design an 18-hole course on the 119-acre farm. The first private golf club on Grosse Ile opened in 1908 as Island Country Club.
Island Country Club purchased all of the property in 1920 on land contract and later sold off the 9-hole property to the developer of Jewell Colony subdivision.
The Rucker’s 1875 carriage house and maintenance building was renovated in 1929 with the addition of locker rooms and kitchen to become the clubhouse for the 18-hole Island Country Club. The clubhouse remained until 1971 when it was torn down.
During the Great Depression, Island Country Club defaulted on Mortgage payments and the Club was sold in 1933 to John and Elizabeth Welsh for $65,591.25. The Welsh’s changed the name to West Shore Golf Club. During the ensuing years, the Welsh’s borrowed money for course improvements and clubhouse expansion…but they too defaulted on loans, and the club was briefly taken over by the BookCadillac Corporation in 1944, and then sold to William L. Stadler later in 1944
The Stadler’s built the current original clubhouse (see back cover photo) in 1946 and changed the name to West Shore Golf and Country Club. Members of the club paid an annual fee on an informal basis. In early 1960, West Shore was incorporated (presumably as a 501C not for profit organization) and the property was leased from the Stadler’s. In 1972, the membership purchased the course and support buildings from the Stadler’s for $800,000
The clubhouse was expanded to current in 1986.
The original halfway house was the rain shelter by # 9 tee.
The halfway house later moved to the block storage building by #1 tee box (hole # 11 was # 9 in those days). The current halfway house opened in 1984 and the course was reconfigured to the current layout.
Tees and greens were remodeled in 1987 and 1988, and par revised from 70 to 71.
Drainage was added in 1991. Irrigation in 2001.
Various bunkers/sand traps and grass swales were added in 1995, 2002, 2004 (primarily after we lost 300+ trees to the Emerald Ash Borer).
Cart path improvement in 1998. The history of West Shore is long and storied, with numerous changes of ownership and course redesign, but West Shore remains proud of our heritage and has evolved into an excellent golf course that challenges all levels of player.
Excerpt from 100 year anniversary booklet:
“Founded in 1908 as Island Country Club, the course has remained relatively unchanged for 100 years. Hole reconfiguration, tree plantings, bunker, cart paths, drainage and irrigation additions have made this great golf course…voted in the top 100.
At West Shore, 4 hour or less rounds are the norm and the course challenges all level of player at par 71 from 4 sets of tees.
West Shore is host to the Grosse Ile and Trenton high school golf teams. We have an excellent Junior Golf Program that has produced many scratch golfers. The numerous Club tournaments and special events make West Shore a great place to play golf.
West Shore is located on the island of Grosse Ile with frontage on the Trenton Channel…an old style heavily treed…here it is, come and get it golf course.”
George B. Ferry-Architect (1851-1918)
George B. Ferry (no relationship with the street) was hired by the Island Country Club in the early 1900’s to design an 18 hole golf course, now called West Shore Golf and Country Club.
Mr. Ferry was born in Springfield and educated in Massachusetts, but spent most of his working life in Milwaukee.
Mr. Ferry was chairman of the Milwaukee Building Code Commission, was president of the Milwaukee Art Commission, and a member of the National Academy of Science. A gold medal award-winning architect, he was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1889.
West Shore is fortunate to have benefited from his work. George B. Ferry died in Milwaukee on January 29, 1918.
DETROIT LIONS’ TRAINING CAMP
In 1944, the Detroit Lions occupied West Shore for their training camp and lived at the club. An amiable gent named Archie Van ran things. A couple of their best players at the time were Frank Sinkwich, Heisman winner from Georgia, and Bob Westfall, a great University of Michigan fullback.
H.C.L. Jackson, Jr, son of Detroit Columnist H.C.L. Jackson, Sr., had just graduated Grosse Ile High School and was employed as the assistant to the equipment manager, Friday Macklem. Just before the Detroit Lions’ season opener, Friday quit and Jackson, Jr., at age 18, was promoted to head equipment manager. It was a big thrill for the young Jackson. Gus Dorais, (who along with teammate Knute Rockne was credited with inventing the forward pass at Notre Dame) was the Lions’ coach. The Navy was finishing up the Naval Air Station and needed sod so they paid West Shore to skim sod off some fairways.
The Navy left its tractors filled with gas at day's end and Archie’s father-in-law, Fred, would use one of the tractors at night to mow the fairways.
H.C.L. Jackson, Sr., came occasionally with a large jug of ice water and delighted in watching the Lions huff and puff during their training. At night sometimes eight or ten of them would go out as a "10- some" and play golf.
The Rouge Club played at West Shore from 1946 until around 1974. The businessmen of the city of River Rouge organized the Club in 1926.
These businessmen would close their businesses on Thursday afternoon to enjoy a round of golf. There would be upwards of 80 golfers each week and they were joined by several local sports figures.
In addition, once a month there would be a steak dinner with close to 130 attendees. These dinners would have a sport figure from the Lions, Tigers, or the University of Michigan as guest speaker. Each dinner included a 50-50 raffle and a drawing for merchandise from one of the businesses.