A Brief History
On May 1, 1926, a group of local businessmen and golf enthusiasts purchased a farm consisting of 74 acres from George & Nora Newton (formerly the Elliot Lauderdale property), and also acquired an additional parcel of 5 acres from the adjoining Gitzinger Farm. The boundaries of this land were situated to the north on Lakeville Road, to the south woods bordering Reservoir Road, and a mile east of the village of Geneseo, New York. This land was very suitable for golf course development as it consisted of large open topography with several mature trees located along the periphery and interior of the property. Furthermore, portions of the terrain had rolling hills and intertwining deep ravines with a brook that ran through them. More importantly, there existed precedence for a water line from the main property to Reservoir Road. Construction of the course began immediately after the acquisitions were completed.
In the summer of 1927, a 9-hole golf course known as the Geneseo Country Club was opened for its inaugural season of play with a renovated farmhouse on the property serving as its clubhouse. The total cost to construct the course was $19,000. The course designer was Seymour Dunn, a renowned golfing instructor and architect. He not only wrote articles for golf magazines, but also designed numerous celebrated golf courses around the country. His most noted designs in New York State included Saranac Inn Golf and Country Club (1905), Links at Lake Placid Club Resort (1909), Tuscarora Golf Club (1923), Craig Wood Golf & Country Club (1926), Locust Hill Country Club (1927), and Ticonderoga Country Club (1929). He also designed Monmouth Country Club in New Jersey and Laurel Country Club in Mississippi, as well as others in Florida and Europe.
Although golf was fashionable throughout the U.S. during this time period, the Great Depression was deep-rooted and golf was affordable by only the affluent. As a result of this predicament, in early 1934, the local bank foreclosed on the Club. In May of 1934, the Club was purchased at a foreclosure sale by Austin Erwin for a paltry sum of $3,000. Mr. Erwin, in turn, sold the Club to a newly-formed membership corporation known as Livingston Country Club, Inc. (LCC) for the same amount. In 1936, bond holders turned ownership over to about 60 members. Those persons paid a membership fee of $150 a year, and an assessment for interest bearing bonds. From 1934, the year of incorporation, through 1975 the Club operated in this manner and grew its membership to around 160 paid members. In 1976, the Club eliminated the membership assessment.
The first Golf Professional at LCC was the distinguished Walter Bemish. He once held all of the “Course Records” at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY where he spent eight years as a pro. His scores included a 66 on the Alumni Course, a 72 on the East Course, and a 69 on the West. He also held the record score of 72 at Monroe in Rochester, and 71 at Bellville in Syracuse, NY. Upon being hired at Geneseo, he moved here and held the course record until his departure. For a number of years, he and Brothers Charles and Donald conducted a golf school in the Duffy-Powers building in downtown Rochester. Walter was a proponent of the “Flail” movement, and was one of the first pros to utilize movies of a golfer (played at slow speed) to teach lessons to his members.
The original 11-member Board of Directors at Livingston Country Club consisted of: Messrs. T. Forrester Courthope, Henry Curtis, Jacob Nast, William Flynn, Whitney Bowen, George Newton, Richard Mackenzie, E. E. Doty, F. G. Batchellor, and Austin Erwin, and Dr. R. A. Page. Today, LCC functions with a 9-member Board that governs and manages its corporate operations.
Golf flourished during the 1960’s and 1970’s, as people had more leisure time, golf fees and golf equipment became more affordable, and caddies gave way to pull carts and motorized riding carts. More golf courses opened in the area to accommodate the growth of this now booming sport, and clubs became competitive in pursuit of new members and greens fee players. In 1961, LCC opened a new addition to its clubhouse and openly invited the public to its venue of golf and social events.
In 1980, Livingston Country Club made a momentous decision to expand its golf course from 9 to 18 holes. In 1984, after years of planning and negotiating, LCC purchased 52.5 acres of land from the James Welch Estate; this land expanded the course to the west toward the village of Geneseo, and to the southern corridor incorporating the entire woods bordering Reservoir Road. During the interim, a new pro shop was built and opened for operations in 1983.
From 1984 through 1986, several course and engineering designs (by area architect Joseph DeMino, Sr., Engineer Paul Eshbaugh, and LCC Board-Members led by Doug Welch and Scott Hicks) were prepared and evaluated before bids were awarded and ground-breaking took place. In July 1989, the new 9 holes were opened for play to the membership and public. The new and the old holes were interspersed in making the course layout enjoyed today. Throughout the 1990’s and every year thereafter, the golf course and its golfing facilities have improved and expanded. As well, in 2004 and 2010, the clubhouse underwent major renovations including enhancements to its entrances, kitchen, dining areas, tavern and restrooms. In addition, its outside accommodations were extended.
In 2008, Livingston Country Club re-established ownership by offering for sale membership units to its on-record list of members. Nearly one-half of the current 160 members are now unit holders of the Club with all members possessing the same golf playing, pro shop, and clubhouse privileges.