Houston Golf - Sugar Creek Country Club History


Furnishings & Facilities
The Sugar Creek Country Club is located in an area steeped in history - dating to 1822. The year Stephen F. Austin, "The Father of Texas," obtained the first Mexican Land Grant to colonize these lands, part of which would later become Fort Bend County.

These hardy pioneers from the nearby states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee crossed the Mississippi... the Continental boundary of the United States... and headed for the rich agricultural lands of our area. They built a fort at the bend of the Brazos River for the shelter and protection of the settlers from the cannibalistic Karankawa Indians. That very same river (through one of its tributaries) nourishes our Country Club to this day.

By 1853, the oldest link of the Southern Pacific Railroad served our area from Allens Landing in nearby Harrisburg. It was built by General Sidney Sherman who, during the Texas Revolution, had sounded the battle cry with Sam Houston, to "Remember Goliad!" ...then led his troops to defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. Just a few days prior, Santa Anna camped on the land surrounding where our clubhouse now stands.

Cotton, corn, and sugar cane flourished in this area and provided a good economic base. Later, during the Civil War, cotton grown nearby was shipped via Mexico to England to finance the Confederate Army.

In 1836, following the victory of San Jacinto, the Republic of Texas was born. Galveston became the major city in Texas, and the port flourished as a point of trade and immigration. The waterways surrounding Sugar Creek flowed to Galveston and became natural transportation and settlement arteries. These waterways assured the area’s economic growth.

Galveston business created a huge sugar plantation which is now the oldest continuously operating business in the state... a sugar refinery... in an area that was then known as their "sugar lands."

Sugar cane tended by slave labor (and convict labor after the Civil War) was the principal commodity grown on our club lands. In 1929, labor costs, tariffs and cane disease forced the refinery to look overseas for sugar cane.

Our land then became a cattle ranch and the clusters of native pecan trees were grafted with assorted species of nuts to supplant the cyclical ranching income of the Fort Bend Cattle Company.

After World War II, the dynamic growth of Houston... fueled by space, medicine and oil... cast the final ballot. A spreading freeway system and burgeoning land values changed the ultimate use of the lands of Sugar Creek. The Fort Bend Cattle Company could no longer make a profit growing and selling beef. In 1969, the founders of Sugar Creek and the owners of the Fort Bend Cattle Company reached agreement for the purchase and development of a new country club community to be known as Sugar Creek.

The club founders commissioned legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones to design and construct a championship golf course unparalleled in the region. When he was asked if this course would be the best in Houston, he answered, "No!... but there will be none finer." His aim: "Challenge the most talented players, yet provide a course to be enjoyed by the member's family as well." The contract with Jones envisioned three nine hole courses to be named... Robert, Trent and Jones.

Early in 1970, the translation of Jones' blueprints into fairways began to take form. The old cattle watering creek dissecting the first fairway was rerouted underground. Lakes were carved and fairways were contoured. His original greens were constructed with only gravel, peat moss and sand. Grass growth could be promoted by fertilizer, with weeds controlled by chemicals. A temporary one-room frame golf building was placed on the bluff where the clubhouse now stands.

As soon as the first turf began to develop, hardy golfers appeared with their clubs to answer Trent Jones' challenge.

Saturday, June 24, 1972, was the date of a most memorable event.

It was a warm summer afternoon and a gentle breeze blowing over nearby Lake Jane Long made the celebration truly enjoyable.

The membership, guests and friends from near and far gathered around the putting green to honor Robert Trent Jones with the unveiling of a bronze bust of him by noted sculptor, David Parsons.

Although he had designed hundreds of the world's most notable golf courses on several continents, this marked the first time Jones had ever been so honored.

Concurrent with the construction of the golf course, a 6,000 square foot maintenance barn was built and equipped to maintain the 230 acre country club grounds. In the Spring of 1972, the membership celebrated the opening of their first permanent building and this 7,000 square foot facility initially served as a golf shop, cart barn, men's and women's locker rooms and grill. That same year, the 50 meter swimming pool and the first four lighted tennis courts were added.

Meanwhile, the design and planning of the magnificent multi-level, 35,000 square foot main clubhouse of Georgian architecture was well under way. In addition, the contract was let for Jones to complete the final nine holes of the course.

The much anticipated formal opening and dedication of the splendid clubhouse and club golfing and tennis facilities took place at an illustrious gala on the evening of May 2, 1975.

The membership and dignitaries were generous in their praise of the imposing white columned clubhouse, its mature golf course, and unique pool-side gazebo.

The design and color for the foyer of the main clubhouse was taken from a Pompeian Patterned fabric of terra cotta, blue and cream. Variations of this color scheme have been carried throughout the main level of the clubhouse providing a background of warmth and elegance to house the collected antiques.

Flanking the front doors in the foyer of the clubhouse are an unusual pair of 18th Century hand-carved silverleaf over gesso candle sticks supporting a pair of Italian terra cotta busts.

Among other fine pieces in the foyer are...

An overscaled Italian bronze lantern which serves as central lighting in the lobby...

A 19th Century Louis Philippe console of mahogany with inlaid satin-wood decoration, porcelain plaques, and bronze fittings. Its companion piece is a large double framed, carved gilt mirror.

A spectacular Regency Linen Press, circa 1810, of burl mahogany with very refined hand painted details of the classic style is further enhanced with the original hardware and bronze ormolu mounts. The pair of eight foot doors leading to the Main Dining Room were custom designed and intricately finished to carry out the design of the Linen Press.

Over the matching sofas are prints by Royal Service artists from a collection of golf scenes at St. Andrew's links. Flanking one sofa is a pair of high-backed Williamsburg chairs in velvet. The other is complemented with a high-backed Chippendale wing chair with ball and claw feet. An Italian baroque hall chair adjacent to the Linen Press is covered with steel cut velvet.

The beautiful dining room to the right of the entrance, capable of accommodating private parties of thirty to fifty guests, is dedicated to the late David T. Searls, one of the founders of Sugar Creek. His portrait over the fireplace was pained by Robert Joy. The beautiful 19th Century English Tall Case Clock located in the same room was given to the club in Mr. Searls memory by his widow.

The furniture focal point of his room is a rare, intricately carved 19th Century Chinese cabinet. Blue enamel panels with inlaid birds and flowers of mother of pearl and gold leaf highlight this exquisite teakwood piece.

Correlated wall covering and draperies are done in a Chippendale pattern and are graced by the warmth of parquet flooring. Accessorizing the fireplace is an antique bronze fire fender with upholstered side seats.

The private dining room to the left of the entrance... ideal for meetings, small dinner parties and other intimate affairs... honors American's foremost golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones, who designed and built the Sugar Creek Golf Course.

(Recently it has been renamed the McConnell Room in honor of George "Bud" McConnell, long-time member of Sugar Creek Country Club.)

Setting an atmosphere of quiet dignity in this Room is an 18th Century style tri-footed pedestal table, twelve Queen Anne arm chairs and a Hepplewhite sideboard. A set of English silver-washed wall sconces, acquired from a London bank, provide the decorative lighting for this room.

A collection of informal portraits of Trent Jones is flanked by those of the founders of Sugar Creek Country Club.

The ambience of the Main Dining room and the adjacent Garden Room with their panoramic view of the golf course, is ideal for both formal and semi-formal membership events in the clubhouse... capable of accommodating up to four hundred people.

Of special interest in the Main Dining Room is a pair of antique French baccarat and bronze cage chandeliers. The twenty-light chandeliers have unusual overshot crystal shades and pyramids with ruffled, pear shaped drape.

Handsome 19th Century sideboards are graced by antique serving pieces. Above each sideboard are wall-hung groupings of English Ashworth china, circa 1860.

While the General Manager's office is located on the main floor of the clubhouse, locker rooms... Terrace Room... Tee Room and the business offices are located on the ground floor. In 1975, the first phase of the ground floor was outfitted…the men's and women's locker room and the Tee Room. In 1977, the men's locker room was expanded to its present size and the Terrace Room and downstairs kitchen which services it were completed.

These rooms provided the balanced environment needed for our membership...

In 1977, the founders also fulfilled their final commitment to the membership when the club was organized…to turn complete control of the club over to the members.

Sugar Creek Country Club is a member owned non-profit country club in which each full or corporate member is a voting stockholder.

The original By Laws designated the club as private rather than public and state that it is organized specifically for fraternal purposes such as the Houston Country Club and the River Oaks Country Club. This sets Sugar Creek Country Club in a class apart from developer or privately owned country clubs where the interest of the members are secondary to the interests of the owners.

Sugar Creek Country Club is licensed by the State of Texas as a private club with a liquor pool and "closed bar" as compared to neighboring public "open bar" clubs.

As a preeminent member owned country club, the members of Sugar Creek Country Club control the size of the various classes of memberships, the use of the facilities, and the club's future.

The Sugar Creek Country Club is paying huge dividends to discriminating families who enjoy golf and tennis as well as good company at dinner. Never designed to be a commercial club, the membership is private and limited to the few who qualify and share ownership of the club, its facilities, and the historic land on which it stands.

Sugar Creek Country Club is dedicated to its members…people whose lives are melded together on acres of wooded countryside where good sportsmanship reigns and cherished friendships cause this "Club" to become a lasting tribute to God... our families…and to the betterment of our precious American Way of Life.

 

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