When the Elmira Country Cub was incorporated on October 21, 1897, the major order of business was to provide a spot for local businessmen, politicians, and civic leaders to play the then relatively unknown game of golf. Founder J. Sloat Fassett, recently returned from Scotland, brought with him the desire and determination to share his love of this “new” game with his peers. The Elmira Country Club began with 317 charter members, and one year later, a new clubhouse and a 9-hole golf course, designed by Willie Dunn, a famous golfer of that era opened at a gala celebration on June 1, 1889.
The original clubhouse was a farm house on upper Underwood Avenue (the area of the current #11 tee box) and was used until 1909 when a new clubhouse was built on West Church Street. This site was sold in 1920 and later became the home of the Dominican Monastery.
The third clubhouse, built at a staggering cost of $55,000, was designed to accommodate further growth in membership and amenities, which over the years included a graceful formal dining room, a men's bar and lounge, casual dining area, and men's and women's locker rooms. Outdoor activities included the golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts and, at one time, horseback riding trails. Two years after the grand opening of the clubhouse, members welcomed the addition of the second nine holes, which were designed by the famed New York architect A.W. Tillinghast, a prolific and highly praised golf course designer. Tillinghast also designed the Black Course at Bethpage, NY, home of two US Open Tournaments; Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY, which hosted five US Opens and one PGA Championship; and Baltusrol in Springfield, NJ, home of two PGA Championships and seven US Open Tournaments.
Throughout the years, improvements such as an automatic irrigation system and paved cart paths have been made, but the most significant change to the course was completed in 1970 with the addition of five new golf holes, designed by Ferdinand Garvin, Golf Course Architect from Export, PA. With the addition of the new holes, some of the previous layout was eliminated.
It became evident at the turn of the millennium, that updates and repairs to the clubhouse would be too costly to be feasible, so the old Spanish stye clubhouse was razed and construction began on a new structure, traditional yet elegant in design, and able to accommodate a growing membership. Additional amenities include a state-of-the-art workout center, an elegant private dining room, a ballroom which can seat up to 400, and separate men’s and women’s card rooms.
For over a century, Elmira Country Club has had a total of nine golf professionals. The first Pro, James T. Campbell, was hired in 1898. He was followed by James J. Walsh in 1905, Dermont E. Miner in 1909, and Jock Bain in 1915. The next Pro, and the one with the longest tenure, was Tom Bonnar. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Tom came to Elmira in 1918 to become a teacher and mentor to the golfing membership for 35 years. Upon his retirement in 1953, Tom's assistant, Frank Socash, became our sixth Pro. Frank's nephew, Ron Socash, worked by his side as assistant Pro from 1967 until taking the reins in 1979. Upon Ron’s retirement in 2000, we welcomed Pro John Rose. In 2009, John’s successor, Joe Norman, came on board as the Club’s ninth golf professional. In 2021, Joe's successor, our present Pro, Kevin Kurcoba, became the Club's tenth golf professional.