LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) — The Youngstown Country Club is celebrating 125 years in operation this August.
In 1898, a group of 50 men and women came together and organized the Mahoning Golf Club. Over the course of the year, the club completed a nine-hole course and clubhouse on what was Bissell Farm.
Joe LaRocca, director of member relations, said he began working at the club as a caddy in 1967 when he was just 11 years old. Larocca says many descendants of the original members are still active within the club today.
“It’s just been so wonderful that it’s like all family. A lot of members have been family [and it’s] a family-oriented club where they care about you,” LaRocca said. “Having a family here that my daughters both worked when they were a young age. … My daughter met her husband [here]. As of right now, they’ve been celebrating 10 years together.”
Located beyond the city outskirts but within walking distance of the Elm Street Trolley Line in the early days, the land now borders the northern bounds of Wick Park. The original clubhouse still stands on the 200 block of North Heights Street, although now it is used as a residential property.
The club relocated in 1905 to an area that is now along Crandall Park and Andrews Hollow. It was that location that hosted the Ohio State Golf Tournament in 1907. That location became the Yale School after the club relocated, but the structure is no longer standing.
In 1911, the club moved to the spot where it remains to this day — a 131-acre site on Holland Farm. A formal opening of the $60,000 clubhouse was held on June 19, 1915.
Years later, a 1928 fire destroyed most of the club building, forcing reconstruction that was completed by Memorial Day in 1929.
Scott Sundstrom, head golf professional with the club, spoke of the unique feeling you get walking through a building that has experienced so much history.
“What makes it really special is the clubhouse is one of a kind and so unique when you walk through here and experience the history,” Sundstrom said. “In 1925, we hosted the 1925 Western Open here, which at that time was a major golf event for the professional golfers here. So just knowing that all the professionals walked here during that time is very special.”
LaRocca said like all businesses, the club has seen its ups and downs, but the community support has allowed the business to thrive.
“We’ve had our ups and downs with all the steel industry in the early 80s. It takes a toll for members of all shapes, sizes,” LaRocca said. “At that time, there were a lot of memberships, and then as they started closing down, we became more small businesses. … But it, everybody helps whether small business, big or bigger.”
To honor its 125th anniversary, the club will host a celebration on Aug. 26. The event will feature a display of historical club archives, along with a reverse raffle, dinner, a skeet shooting tournament, and of course, golf. The event is open to members of the club as well as any accompanying guests.