The establishment now known as Bethesda Country Club began its illustrious history when the Bethesda Country Club Corporation purchased the current site from the Washington Aviation Country Club in 1947. The 156-acre plot consisted of a clubhouse, two tennis courts, nine-hole golf course, and sold for $360,000. The 81 original members of BCC began to make the momentous journey towards the outstanding club present today.
The Montgomery Country Club purchased the original farmland on the site in 1913. The farmhouse on the plot was converted to serve as the clubhouse. As there was no road leading to the new Montgomery Club, a trolley operated by the Washington and Great Falls Railway and Power Company, carried members to the club. The trolley tracks followed the path that is now the route of Bradley Boulevard.
In 1929 Montgomery Country Club was converted into the National Women’s Country Club, a flourishing and nationally acclaimed club. The membership included first ladies, social leaders, and dignitaries from across the country. In order to commemorate great women members from 55 countries, fifty-five Dutch elms were planted on the border of the International Memorial Lane, the road to the club. Those trees that survived the plague of Dutch elm disease still stand and are accompanied by stands of maple trees.
The nine-hole golf course was the main attraction of the women at the National Women’s Country Club. As a result, it was common for private planes to fly into the club for nine holes and lunch. The present practice range used to serve as the landing area for the planes.
In June of 1934, the Washington Post stated that “men are experiencing the women’s revenge; women have a club of their own now – one of the finest nine-hole courses in the country.”
The property became public in 1936, but reverted back to a private club when the site was leased by E.G. Adams to form the Bradley Hills Country Club.
After the war ended in 1945, the Washington Aviation Country Club with the added attraction of a casino was established. Local residents in the area protested the plans to have private planes operating on club grounds.
Two years later, in 1947, the Bethesda Country Club Corporation purchased the site, and Bethesda Country Club, 7601 Bradley Boulevard joined the ranks of other prestigious clubs in the Washington-Metro area.
In 1949, an additional nine-holes were added to BCC, making it an eighteen-hole course. Twelve years later, in 1961, the golf course went through a major realignment and improvement when the state of Maryland took 13 acres to build interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway. A general renovation occurred and facilities were improved and a new clubhouse replaced the original farmhouse structure. A swimming pool was added and a new tennis house accompanied by new tennis courts was added. Refinements were added to the golf course with the inclusion of 500 pines and shrubs and the lake at hole 17 were constructed. In 1986, a major addition to the clubhouse was added.
In 1988 BCC hosted the First Greater Washington Open and in 1990, the Mazda LPGA held its first one million-dollar event at Bethesda. For the next three years, the Mazda LPGA hosted impressive championships at BCC and brought international press coverage and national television coverage on NBC.
In 1992, the golf course underwent a complete renovation with a four-phase construction program under the direction of golf course architect, Arthur Hills. The four-year construction period resulted in new tees, bunkers, practice areas, cart paths, greens, an enlarged lake and new irrigation system.
In 1997 the clubhouse again was totally renovated and expanded to almost double its size. Bethesda Country Club now has state-of-the-art technology keeping its wonderful, traditional golf course in incredible shape and a new, expansive clubhouse with so much attention to detail that it is nearly impossible to find something that could have been done better. Everything from the exquisite ceramic tile in the locker rooms, to the rich wood lockers to the hardwood décor of the club grill has been built with painstaking detail. Bethesda Country Club is recognized as one of the esteemed country clubs of the area and of the country.
At the 50-year mark, BCC had ten tennis courts, swimming pools and a championship 18-hole golf course and continues to be a family oriented, friendly and progressive establishment.
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