Alvin Golf & Country Club has been sold and is now permanently closed.
We would like to thank our former members and regulars who supported the club and became our good friends. It was not an easy decision to sell the course that had so much history, including our own family history with the club that went back 70 years.
In rememberance, we have compiled a brief overview of the course history and what it has meant to our family over the years.
Alvin Golf & Country Club was the Friendliest Course in Texas!®
Until September 30, 2016, Alvin Golf & Country Club (AGCC) was a family-owned public golf course and country club owned and operated by Karen and Patrick Farrell. Karen and Pat purchased the golf course from its stock members on February 12, 2004, but the course had a long and storied history that began before either of them were born.
In 1945, Karen's grandparents, Arthur (Art) Philip and Ethelind Joy Uzzell Schacht, along with two other buyers, purchased the land. It sat atop an old plantation. The former #1 and #2 holes were separated by the old road that was lined with 100-foot tall, 100-year-old pecan trees that led to the plantation manor house. The foundation of the manor house was only a couple of feet under the rough.
Some say that the residents of the manor home and those whose worked the plantation still walk the property. Young and old, impressionable and cynical, report seeing, hearing, and feeling “presences” on the course, in the clubhouse, and in the three surrounding homes.
Many golfers considered the ghosts part of the charm of the course and took the seemingly harmless spirits in stride. But other people who encountered the otherworldly presences for the first time had a less positive reaction.
Ethelind after winning a golf tournament.
Art was a minor league and company baseball player from St. Louis who made his way to the Alvin area. At one point, he played for the Texaco team, who required their players to work for the company between games. Texaco taught him to weld, and he learned his job well.
Some time after his 11-year minor league career, he married Ethelind and opened the highly successful Schacht's Welding shop in Alvin. While the others in the shop did the simple welding jobs, he spent a lot of his time out on the oil rigs, often in the middle of the night in raging storms that had damaged the rigs. He also performed a lot of work for future members of AGCC who owned oil-service businesses. They were all one tight-knit group.
Ethelind had lived in the Alvin-Manvel area all of her life, as had her parents, William M. Uzzell and Sarah Maggie Brister Uzzell. Her great-grandparents William Rufus Booth, Sr. and Elizabeth Tursy Rawls Booth were the first family to settle the area, with their nearest neighbors in Rosenberg. Her great uncle, their son, John Phillip Booth, was the first child born in the Alvin-Manvel area.
When Art and Ethelind bought the property, it had most recently housed WW II soldiers, and their former barracks were the first clubhouse, complete with showers. All activities originated from the clubhouse, and they sold green fees and snacks from the split front door.
The members eventually built a new clubhouse several yards away, and used the first building for storage. The faithful, cinderblock structure stood until crumbling at last with the winds of Hurricane Ike.
C.L. Spence designed the golf course, and in 1946, it became Alvin Golf & Country Club. From then until it was purchased by Karen and Pat in 2004, the country club was owned equally by 50 stock members, including a share owned by Karen's grandparents.
Alvin Golf & Country Club was the only game in town throughout the forties, and not just for golf. The clubhouse sported a piano, and if you catch the wind just right, you can hear the echoes of the music and laughter from the dances of that decade.
Tatsu's tree. Live oak planted in honor of Tatsu Tindall.
In 1958, Alvin Golf & Country Club began another tradition that stood until the course closed: the club became the home course of the Alvin High School Golf team. The Schacht's son, Robert, whom everyone knows as Bob, was in his junior year at Alvin High School. He and Pat Morgan formed the first golf team at Alvin High School in 1958, and they practiced at Alvin Golf & Country Club. Since the team consisted of only two golfers, the boys could only compete in individual events in their tournaments. But the program grew.
Now the Alvin High School Golf team has girls and boys teams: Varsity, Junior Varsity, Sophomore, and Freshman. Alvin Golf & Country Club had been the home course of the AHS golf team since 1958, where they hosted their golf tournaments and held their weekly practices. Golfers on the team were welcome to play at no charge during the week. The team held their last practice at Alvin Golf & Country Club two days before the course closed.
For several decades, the course was managed by a colorful character named Andy Hillhouse and his wife Elsie. Andy had played football for Alvin High School, earning all-district honors in the mid 40s, went on to Texas A&M, was drafted to the NFL, and played in the Canadian Football League. He was a big boy with an even bigger voice and sense of humor—and heart. Anyone who met him remembers him because he was the kind of person whose personality expanded to fit the space he was occupying.
Bob and his friends spent a lot of time having swimming parties and otherwise cutting up at the course. In his senior year, they held a graduation party at the swimming pool. Bob and another grad ran down the fairway (and he swears they weren't drinking). As Bob remembers it, they might even have been wearing their swimming suits.
The tradition of young people at the course continued with Karen riding with Ethelind in her daily game each summer vacation. They ate beef jerky and bananas and drank powdered Lipton iced tea. Karen also spent long days at the pool with her summer friends and has wonderful memories of the time spent at AGCC. The tradition was carried on still with Karen and Pat's son Sean, who was born in the Schacht's former home, right off of the ninth tee box. He had the golf course as his back yard as long as he lived at home, and for a boy growing up, there was no better life.
Sean jumping into Mustang Bayou off the cart bridge across #9
The club was vibrant with personalities from all over the spectrum. And it all worked. Karen always found it so gratifying when someone came into the club and remembered Art and Ethelind, Andy and Elsie, Tat Tindel, the Blockers, or any other of the original golfers she remembers from riding with her grandmother in her youth.
When it began, the golf course was a private club, for stock members only. Eventually, the stock members voted to open the course to associate members who would pay a monthly fee but not have voting rights or any financial interest in the club. Later, in a contentious ballot, the stock members finally voted to open the course to green fee players, becoming at last a semi-private golf course, which it remained until it closed.
When Art Schacht died at the age of 94 in 2000, Karen and Pat purchased his share of stock from the Schacht estate and became voting stock members. In 2003, when the board decided to sell AGCC, Karen and Pat decided to buy the club to ensure that it remained a golf course for as long as possible. They had always envisioned bringing their future grandchildren to the club to enjoy the same memories that Karen had enjoyed when she was a girl.
Karen and Pat, buying the club February 12, 2004
Unfortunate timing marked the Farrells tenure as Alvin Golf & Country Club owners. Just after they bought the golf course, the golf business began a steady and persistent decline. People wanted instant entertainment, not a game that takes five hours to play and years to learn.
The Farrells put a lot of capital into restoring the club, and they contributed their time and additional funds during its operation to keep the course open. Although they initially upgraded the course, the carts, the equipment, and the banquet facilities, the area would not support rates that covered costs. Eventually, they had to face the fact that the situation was not sustainable. Heartbreakingly, they decided to sell the golf course, and thus ended the long and storied history of Alvin Golf & Country Club.