As much as it was a golf course, it was also a hub of social activity. The Clubhouse once housed a barbershop and hotel rooms. Atlantic City Country Club was the place to be and be seen. Dinner was served nightly in the main dining room, now referred to as the Grand Ballroom, with jackets and ties mandatory for all gentlemen. Throughout the decades, Atlantic City Country Club played host to every social event imaginable. And some even unimaginable.
Nucky Johnson, a NJ political boss, racketeer and bootlegger made famous by the HBO special Boardwalk Empire, was known to frequent Atlantic City Country Club. In 1929, when Johnson hosted an organized crime convention in Atlantic City, Chicago mob boss Al Capone was said to have “hid” out at the club to avoid detection.
In the 1940’s, Atlantic City Country Club owner and NJ Assemblyman James “Sonny” Fraser would frequently host politicians and celebrities alike. Some of his guests included: Frank “Hap” Farley, the NJ Senate President at the time, Jack Kelly, Grace Kelly’s father, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and many others.
The Term “Birdie”
On a windy winter day in December 1903, Abner Smith of Philadelphia teed it up on the 12th Hole at Atlantic City Country Club. His tee shot landed in the fairway like any other ball, but it was his next shot from the fairway that would make history. It landed on the green just inches from the hole allowing an easy putt and one under par score. It was such a fine shot that someone in the group shouted, “That was a ‘bird of a shot!” Back in the day, the term “bird” was used to describe something outstanding or incredible.
“Bird of a shot” was transformed into “birdie” to describe a one under score and the rest is history. Visitors to Atlantic City Country Club learned of the term and it spread around the world. A memorial rock now sits on the spot where the term was first used to commemorate this historic event.
The Term “Eagle”
FIRST used at Atlantic City Country Club to represent a score of two under par as a continuation of the “Birdie” theme.
The FIRST Senior Tour event
Renamed the Champions Tour in 2003 and PGA Tour Champions in 2016. The first ever event won by Don January was held right here in Atlantic City.
The FIRST intercollegiate Ivy League Championship
Contested at Atlantic City Country Club in 1901 and was won by Harvard.
FIRST American to win the U.S.G.A. Open Championship
In 1911, Atlantic City Golf Professional John J. McDermott at Age 19, became the FIRST American to win the U.S.G.A. Open Championship. He repeated in 1912 and remains the youngest to have ever won the Open.
Via AC CC