Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for July 16th, 2009

The Dunedin Country Club

Dunedin Country Club

Dunedin Country Club

Picture this:

You are a developer in Dunedin, Fla., and you have a vision about a new housing development. You want to attract people from up north who may want to relocate to a warmer, sunnier climate.

So you buy a big tract of land and you subdivide it into house lots. Right in the middle of it you leave plenty of space for a golf course. And just to make sure you make the course really attractive and interesting, you hire one of the greatest living golf course architects to design it.

Sounds like a pretty contemporary scenario, right?

In this case, however, it was not.  All of this took place in the 1920s. The subdivision included Dunedin’s Fairway Estates, and the golf course was the Donald Ross-designed Dunedin Country Club.

This story starts in the early years of the 20th century, when Baron Otto Quarles arrived in Florida from Europe. He bought a huge tract of land north of Dunedin and built a large mansion on the site, but within a few years he lost interest and relocated to the other side of Tampa Bay, in Tampa.

About 20 years later, a developer acquired the land and announced very ambitious plans. Two golf courses, a casino and more than 6,000 home sites were part of the scheme. But then came the great Florida real estate bust of 1929, and the project went bankrupt.

Before that happened, however, Donald Ross was retained to design the golf course. Ross was a native of Scotland who designed more than 300 U.S. golf courses during his career. He was based in North Carolina and designed many courses there, but Florida was fertile ground for his talents, too. Ross-designed golf courses are highly prized; today, fewer than 20 Donald Ross courses survive in Florida.

The Depression took its toll on the course. By the mid-1930s it was in need of major repairs and maintenance. In 1938, the city of Dunedin obtained ownership of the course. Money was invested in the course, and golfers began using it again in 1938.

A real break for the course happened in 1945, when it was selected to become the home course of the PGA of America. The PGA leased the club and made Dunedin its national headquarters. That relationship lasted until 1962, when the PGA moved to another location in Palm Beach Gardens/

During those years the course was played by some of the greatest name in golf — Ben Hogan, Sam Snead. Bobby Jones and Babe Zaharias among them.
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The Dunedin Country Club has been going through some financial and management issues lately. Here’s a link to a story in the St. Petersburg TIMES:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/article1017449.ece

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