Links to history at the Tahoe City Golf Course
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
The Tahoe City Golf Course and Winter Sports Park didn’t offer much in the way of winter sports last season, but the links are now open and playing beautifully.
Located at 251 North Lake Blvd., this well-maintained and charming nine-hole golf course has been a local’s favorite since 1917, when the legendary Tahoe Tavern hotel and resort commissioned Isabella May “Queenie” Dunn to design it.
The Tahoe Tavern was owned by the Bliss family, whose patriarch Duane Leroy Bliss had elevated Lake Tahoe’s tourism business at the turn of the 20th century by launching the lake’s first luxury passenger steamer, building the Tahoe Tavern and constructing a narrow-gauge railroad to connect Tahoe City with Truckee and the transcontinental line.
Queenie Dunn was a member of England’s most famous golfing family. Her grandfather, William “Willie” Dunn, was the instructor and keeper of the green at London’s prestigious Blackheath links, where he was a top player as well as a club and ball maker. His two sons, Tom and William Jr., followed in their father’s footsteps as ball makers, as well as club and course designers.
Born in England in 1880, Queenie learned to play golf on a course laid out by her father Tom. Her first husband, William “Willie” Webb, became a founding member of the Professional Golf Association (PGA). Considered one of England’s best woman golfers and instructors, Mrs. Dunn Webb was among Great Britain’s first lady professionals.
She immigrated to Boston in 1915 where she wrote golf instruction articles for the New York Herald and taught the sport to girls at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Queenie was America’s first female professional golfer and instrumental in establishing tees especially for women. In 1916 she moved to Reno, where she helped organize the Reno Golf Club and laid out the Washoe County Golf Course. It was the first in the Silver State and the first in the U.S. designed by a woman architect.
In 1917 she came to Tahoe City at the request of the Tahoe Tavern and designed a six-hole course near the mouth of the Truckee River. It was expanded to nine holes in 1926, the same year her brother John Dunn laid out the Old Brockway Golf Course in Kings Beach.
One of Tahoe City’s pioneer families, the Bechdolts, purchased the course in 1948. In the 1950s, the links were popular with celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Bob Hope and many others. In recent years charity tournaments hosted by the club have raised more than $200,000 for the Tahoe City Little League program.
Rich in history, the Tahoe City Golf Course is family and dog friendly and one of the least expensive in the area. It’s a great place to practice the basics.
Lake Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin is a nationally published author and professional speaker. His award-winning books are available at local stores or at http://www.thestormking.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Mark’s blog at http://www.tahoenuggets.com.
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