The Johnson City Country Club — thanks mainly to its uniquely designed golf course — has been placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The placement was effective Nov. 15.
The club, which opened in 1913, is nearing its centennial anniversary. A formal dedication ceremony will be held as part of the celebration, and once the schedule of events is finalized, members, citizens and state dignitaries will be invited, said Tony Ferro, the club’s historical committee chairman and past president.
“In an conversation with the Tennessee Historical Commission, they stated that the designation will identify the golf course as the primary resource designated,” Ferro said. “I want to congratulate everyone who provided information or support toward this accomplishment, whether it was a small or large contribution. Without you this recognition locally, statewide and nationally would not have been possible.”
The spread first opened as a nine-hole private course with 200 charter members. In 1919, members solicited the services of architect A.W. Tillinghast to develop the original design for an 18-hole course and clubhouse. The full course officially opened in 1920. And 60 years after his death, 18 courses designed by the architect still are ranked among the top 100 in the country.
Ferro said that with the national designation, property values will likely increase and there is a marketing and public relations benefit when soliciting new members and/ or business. The certification also ensures that future members and management will retain the historic beauty and design of the golf course, buildings, structures and sites.
“You’ve now entered a distinguished cadre of other National Register properties, and I encourage you all to work diligently to ensure this resource is cherished and that careful decisions are made to prolong her future,” Justin Sanders, The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia & The National Trust for Historic Preservation field services representative, told Ferro in a Thanksgiving Day email.
The original golf pro shop built in the 1920s was rebuilt in 1950. From 1960-1972, an irrigation system was added to the course, the order of several holes were changed, a practice driving range and scoreboard were added, as well as locker rooms and a men’s lounge.
A few years later, the pro shop was expanded. And in the mid- to late-1980s, the course was converted from Bluegrass to Bermuda, the entire course was upgraded, including its greens, traps, tee boxes and irrigation system. Just this year, a 300-yearold oak tree was cut down due to disease and a Stone Terrace was built in its place, while an artificial surface was installed at the driving range.
The course features 6,402 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72 and is home to some of East Tennessee’s premiere golf tournaments, including The Tillinghast Invitational, the Member-Guest Golf Classic and the Raggedy Ann & Andy Tournament.