Tekoa was originally built and opened around 1890. When the four-hole course on Western Avenue opened it was one of the first in Western Massachusetts. A Grand Clubhouse was added in 1911 on the property now owned by Westfield State University.
Donald Ross then redesigned the course and made it nine holes in 1923. Five of those holes still remain intact today. The original Ross holes are 2, 3, 4, 14 and 15. The features of those holes still remain very intact. The other four holes are still visible on the south side of Route 20, which abuts up to Western Avenue and Stanley Park.
Famous Western Massachusetts architect Geoffrey Cornish redesigned Tekoa in 1961; he left five of Ross’s original holes and added 13 gems of his own. The Cornish layout was designed by him and built by Conlin Construction.
A plan completed in 2006 added approximately 400 yards to the already challenging layout. A complete bunker renovation was achieved in early 2006 and the bunkers on the golf course were made more visible, especially from the teeing area. The bunker project also themed up the Ross and Cornish holes making the whole course feel complete and connected.
Tekoa Country Club in the Olympic Games
The first and only time (until 2016) that golf was an Olympic sport was 1904 at the Glen Echo C.C. in St. Louis, MO.
Of the 73 participants two were from Tekoa Country Club, Leon J. Hazeltine and Dr. Wallace F. Shaw. While neither Mr. Hazeltine or Dr.Shaw qualified for the match play round, their trip was however newsworthy. Read the following excerpt from Michael Cochrane's book "Olympic Lyon".
Olympic Lyon - The untold story of the last (and lost) Gold Medal for Golf
Let the Competition Begin! - Monday September 19th, 1904
The Qualifying Rounds
After a rather lengthy speech welcoming the 73 participants, spectators and news reporters to Glen Echo Country Club, Colonel McGrew held his breath and prayed that these games, for which he had worked so hard, would start with some respectable golf. He prayed that his dream would be realized over the next six days.
In fact, he had already written his speech for the presentation of the trophy and gold medal to the eventual Champion and ordered champagne that would be his gift to the competitors.
He was a generous man but also a proud man. The honour of hitting the opening drive of the 1904 Golf Olympics fell to Mr. Raymond Havemeyer of Deal, New York. He stepped nervously to the tee and quickly hit a modest 150 yard drive down the left side of the first fairway on Lilac Way. The gallery showed its appreciation with an enthusiastic burst of applause. The competition was finally underway.
As Colonel McGrew let out a sigh of relief and raised his megaphone to announce the next golfer, his assistant tugged at his sleeve and whispered something in his ear. He frowned, stood up straight and called out. “Dr. Shaw. Will Dr. Shaw please make his way to the first tee? You are away sir.” He repeated it firmly for good measure turning his megaphone toward the Clubhouse. There was no response. Members of the gallery began to mutter and murmurs repeating Shaw’s name spread through the crowd. Suddenly, from around the corner of the clubhouse, came a man running, suitcase in one hand and golf bag in the other. “I’m here. I’m here.” The poor man was breathless as he arrived at the first tee. “I’m sorry...” he puffed“...the train was delayed and I have just arrived.”
He dropped his bag and began to wipe his forehead with a handkerchief. “I’ve been on the train continuously since Friday afternoon. It was a dreadful trip. I am so sorry...”
“Mind the gentleman’s luggage. Doctor, you are scheduled to tee off. Take a moment to compose yourself and please join the competition.”
With that he raised the megaphone one more time and called out. “Next on the tee Dr. Wallace Shaw of Westfield, Massachusetts from Tekoa Golf Club.”
Shaw fumbled through his bag for a ball, pulled a club and walked to the tee. With a tug on his vest and a pull on his cap he took his stance. Those close to him could readily see that Dr. Shaw had really not quite caught his breath and was sweating profusely.
George Westlake a reporter for the Evening Post scribbled notes as the doctor set his ball on a small mound of sand. Two slow and graceful practice swings followed and the gallery held its collective breath. However, any sense of grace disappeared as Dr. Shaw took his first swing. It was more akin to a violent lash than a stroke. The ball shot hard right over Westlake’s head, striking a large tree and bouncing into a hedge on the right side of the fairway. The crowd let out a groan.
The doctor looked to the heavens and then walked quickly to the hedge. The ball was at the edge and playable. Barely. He took his stance. The next lash sent the ball to the tennis courts adjacent to the clubhouse. The crowd let out a sympathetic groan and a few laughs as the doctor again looked to the heavens. McGrew stared at the ground, embarrassed by this display.
More lashes followed and Dr. Shaw was now 10 yards in front of where he had originally stood on the first tee. He was lying seven. His 8th shot would find the rough and draw even more laughs from the gallery.
And so it went. To his credit Dr. Shaw would not be deterred. He carried on, shooting 107 on his first 18 holes that morning and 102 on his second 18, after a good lunch and a stiff drink. His qualifying 36 holes of 209 would not be good enough to allow him to move forward into Match Play on Tuesday. He would need to settle for the so called consolation rounds. But there would be no true consolation for the poor doctor because that night, as he opened the newspaper, to his eternal shame and embarrassment, he found that his first hole was considered newsworthy. He stared at the headline in despair.
“Olympian Golf Is On”
George Westlake Special to the Evening Post.
“Dr. W.F. Shaw of Westfield Mass. developed the worst case of hard luck ever seen at a big tourney...”
It was not the kind of press that Colonel McGrew had hoped for and he would need to have a word with Westlake.