Taconic was built on what, in the past, was cattle grazing farmland, and before that, woodlands. Williamstown was, in prehistoric times, a lake bed carved by glaciers, creating a nearly impervious layer of clay upon which was deposited a thick layer of loam, This natural state contributes to Taconic’s lush fairways, greens and rough. John English, a 1932 Williams College graduate, former USGA official and past Secretary of the Alumni Society of Williams College, put together a very interesting history of the course. Some of the highlights of Mr. English’s recordings include the fact that “three men with three tomato cans” gave birth to the Taconic Golf Club in 1896.
That year the late William Howard Doughty, James M. Ide, and Edward C. Gale received permission form Williams College to install three tomato cans on Weston Athletic Field, which adjoins the present 18th fairway of Taconic. That summer Henry N. Sabin and James Bullock joined the group. Mr. Gale paid Mr. Sabin $55 on Sept. 5, 1896 to start the Taconic Golf Club. A few weeks later in the same year the first real course was laid out. It was a seven hole course. One of those holes, the present 17th, is the oldest at Taconic and perhaps as old as any in the country. Dues in those days were $20.00 per annum. In 1897, a longer nine hole course was laid out on property owned by William Howard Doughty. The same year the Whitney Sampson house on South Street was made into a clubhouse. It served as the Taconic clubhouse until 1955.
In 1927 George Alfred Cluett, Class of 1896 at Williams, was determined to provide a first class course for Williams College students. Mr. Cluett secured a gift of land for Williams College from the wife of William Howard Doughty, of approximately 47 acres to be used by the Club. This parcel excluded a strip of land containing the 18th green and clubhouse. Mr. Cluett then secured a gift to the College from John H. Dennison of his 45 acre farm in the section where the present clubhouse is located. Williams CollegeTrustees then purchased the Dillon lot of 17 acres in the southeastern section of the present course to complete the course. Wayne Stiles of Stiles & Van Kleek, a Boston firm, was commissioned to design and construct an 18 hole course in 1927.
In 1924, Mr. Richard Baxter, had been hired as the Club Professional and greenskeeper. Mr. Baxter supervised the construction of the 18 hole course that started in August of 1927 and was completed by Labor Day in 1928. It was a par 73 layout. Probably no single person has had a greater impact on the creation and maintenance of the course’s excellence as the late Mr. Baxter. Since the land involved was essentially open farmland with very few trees, the magnificent tree lined fairways of today were mostly the expert handiwork of Dick Baxter. In 1955 the course was revised to 6,640 yards (back tees) and a par 71 layout when the clubhouse was moved to its current location on Meacham Street. In 2008 renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse of Hanse Golf Course Design Inc. was retained for a multi-million dollar renovation project, which was completed in the summer of 2009.
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