Early History of The Kahkwa Club

In the early 1890's leading citizens lived close to the central city, and the booming manufacturing plants were belching heat and smoke over the area. In 1892 prominent Erie Citizens decided to build a country club on the western shores of the bay, near enough to the city to be reached by horse and carriage, yet remote from the congestion of the city. This group leased property on what is now the western part of South Shore Drive near Massassaugua Point, erected a club house and organized The Kahkwa Club. The name Kahkwa was selected at the suggestion of the late Henry Catlin, "that having been the name of a tribe of Indians that frequented these shores when the country was a forest." The early club was purely a social club.

As citizens became interested in golf, then becoming popular in larger metropolitan areas, they decided that they should build a golf course. Many Kahkwa Country Club members were primarily responsible for the founding of the Erie Golf Association on June 24, 1899. In 1901, the Erie Golf Association became the Erie Golf Club. The club house was located at the northwest corner of 8th and Kahkwa Boulevard.

Prior to 1904, when the lease on the property for the original Kahkwa Club was expiring, the club members felt that it would be wise to purchase the tract of land which encompassed the golf links. Apparently about this time fire destroyed the clubhouse at Massassaugua Point. Property was purchased from the Reeds from Lincoln Avenue west to the Tracy property, including all of the golf links. The Kahkwa Club built a new clubhouse at the foot of Crescent Drive in 1904. The country club maintained a horse-drawn bus for the convenience of its members wishing to use the W. 8th Street trolley line.

As the community expanded and golf became popular, it was decided to locate the country club further west of the city, with area provided for an eighteen hole course. Negotiations were undertaken between the Erie Golf Course and the Country Club, and early records indicate an interlocking directorship and membership. Land was purchased in Swanville and the present clubhouse was erected in 1917. Like the old, the new property was adjacent to public transportation facilities. The North Western Electric Railroad Company tracks paralleled our 17th fairway and the large row of poplar trees were planted for privacy.

The old Ridge Road which passes our club property was first paved about 1917.

The present club was designed by the late C. Paxton Cody and built by the Henry Shenk Company. Donald Ross of "Pinehurst" fame was engaged to lay out the links. The first nine holes are now the second nine of the present course. In the early days, as in Scotland, holes were known by names as well as numbers. Among the early golfers at Kahkwa, Number 12 was referred to as "Long Tom"; Number 13, "School House"; Number 14, "The Alps"; Number 3, the traditional "Pond." On completion of the original nine holes, with the help of Theron R. Palmer and others property was acquired east of the entry road so that the present first nine holes could be built. These holes were also laid out by Donald Ross.

Prior to the early '30's, our golf course was quite wide open. Aside from the big woods bordering the fifth and sixth holes and the tenth and twelfth holes, one could "spray" shots and still recover. In the early '30's, a very devoted golfer and member of the club, Cy Lund, interested in the beauty of a fine golf course, promoted a tree planting program. By persuading the members to provide meager funds, "Cy" with other devoted members, planted saplings throughout our golf course, using caddies to help them dig holes and put in the variety of lovely trees we have today.

A history of golf in Erie calls for a tribute to Charlie Hymers, pro at our club from April 1915 to November, 1938. Dean of golf professionals in the area, he contributed to the instruction of many of our earlier city champions and golfing greats. Older members in the club can recall Charlie making matched sets by selecting clubs from the bins that lined the wall of the pro shop, sometimes having them modified by Gene Kunes, the club maker, who later became nationally known as a professional golfer.

Others to have served as Kahkwa's golf pros in the past include Lionel Hebert, Jay Hebert, George Picard and Art Vogt.

Prestigious Championships at Kahkwa

Women's Western Open
Patty Berg
U.S. Women's Open
JoAnne Carner
Pennsylvania Women's State Amateur Championship
Carole Semple
Pennsylvania Women's Senior State Amateur Championship
Phyllis Semple
Western Pennsylvania Men's Amateur Championship
Tim Dunlavey
Pennsylvania State Women's Amateur Championship
Carole Semple Thompson






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