OUR CLUB HISTORY
Wilshire Country Club has enjoyed a rich history as an integral part of the City of Los Angeles. Located in the heart of the Hollywood area, its golf and social membership have long included some of the area’s most distinguished business leaders and citizens. Nearing its 100th Anniversary in 2019, the Club has played a prominent role in the development of the prestigious Hancock Park neighborhood where it proudly originated in 1919.
The Club is founded by a few prominent local Los Angeles businessmen on land owned by G. Allan Hancock. The club house and golf course officially opens in December 1920. In 1925 Beverly Blvd. bisects through the center of the golf course dividing the front and back nine. An underground tunnel is built connecting the two halves of the golf course. The Los Angeles Open selects Wilshire to host its professional golf tournament in 1928; the first of four L.A. Open events to be held there. The Club and its golf course quickly become one of the finest private establishments in the whole country.
Wilshire is again selected to host the Los Angeles Open golf tournament in both 1931 and 1933. The 1930’s is the era of the great financial depression in the United States, and many country clubs close their doors due to financial hardship. To Wilshire’s credit, it remains solvent through this difficult economical period. In 1938 a strong winter storm causes severe damage to the natural stream of water running through the entire golf course which is called a “barranca”. Both the 16th and 18th green surrounds have to be reconstructed to prevent any further storm damage to these highly respected finishing holes.
Pearl Harbor is bombed by Japan in December of 1941, and the United States goes to war. WWII lasts 4 long years and this period of time is referred to as Wilshire’s War Years. In 1944 the L.A. Open holds its last professional golf tournament at Wilshire in an effort to raise money for war bonds. Many Wilshire members serve in the war, and they return to their homes and their beloved Club upon the war’s end. Olin Dutra, a world famous professional golfer who won both The U.S. Open in 1934 and the PGA in 1932 is Wilshire’s head golf professional from 1935 to 1945.
The inauguration of the first Macbeth Tournament takes place in 1950, and is now regarded as the premier amateur tournament in all of Southern California. Ellsworth Vines, a former professional tennis champion, and Jerry Barber who won the PGA in 1961 serve as the head Golf Professionals at Wilshire during the era of the 1950’s.
Conversation begins in the late 1960’s to determine whether to remodel the original Spanish style Clubhouse, or construct a brand new one. A brand new Mediterranean style Clubhouse prevails, and construction begins in the late 1960’s. Frank Morey becomes the head Golf Professional in 1963 and remains in that capacity for the next 25 years.
The new Mediterranean style Clubhouse is unveiled in 1971, and it remains the members’ sanctuary for the next 30 years. The original Clubhouse lasted for 50 years, and it is finally demolished upon the completion of the new one much to the disappointment of many members who were strongly in favor of remodeling it. The original Clubhouse was located directly on the corner of Rossmore Avenue and Beverly Blvd. where the guest parking lot is now located.
The population of Los Angeles continues to expand, and Wilshire’s growth and prestige grows exponentially during this decade of financial stability. There is a proposal to introduce tennis courts to the Club in the early 1980’s that is soundly defeated. Once and for all the members determine that Wilshire is to remain a Club solely dedicated to the game of golf. Rick Rielly succeeds Frank Morey as the Head Golf professional in 1988, where remains a popular fixture to the present day. In 1988 Wilshire becomes the first private Club in the Los Angeles area to break the color barrier; a great milestone in the Club’s history.
A controversial scenario develops during this decade by a group of members wishing to sell the Club to rapidly growing Japanese business interests. A general meeting is held with overwhelming member attendance, and a vote is taken whether or not to entertain the possibility of selling the Club. The motion is narrowly defeated, and any thoughts of ever selling the Club again is quietly put to rest. Beginning 1995 the Professional Senior Golf Tour comes to Wilshire for 6 straight years concluding its last Senior Classic in 2000.
In 2001 the Ladies Professional Golf Tour comes to Wilshire for 1 year only because in 2002 the Club begins the process of completely remodeling its Clubhouse. Except for the kitchen area, the Clubhouse is stripped to the bare walls, and a completely new Mediterranean/Spanish style Clubhouse is constructed at a cost of $13 million dollars. The members make due for 18 months in a modular 3,000 sq. foot clubhouse erected in the Club’s parking lot until the new Clubhouse reopened in 2002. In 2008/2009 a complete restoration of the golf course also takes place in an effort to return the course to the original architectural design of its creator, Norman Macbeth.
The complete golf course restoration is orchestrated by the noted golf course architect, Kyle Phillips. The restoration turns out to be a complete success, and is heralded in GolfClubAtlas.com as “Wilshire’s return to its prestige as one of Los Angeles’ finest golf courses”. In 2015, further golf course enhancements take place in the form of creating natural waste areas that require minimum water to maintain. This is done in an effort to conserve water in the perpetually dry Los Angeles basin desert in future years.
Wilshire Country Club celebrates its 100th Centennial Birthday, and looks forward to another successful 100 years of private golf enjoyment in the heart of Los Angeles.