MANCHESTER — Jane Diplock has been playing golf at the Augusta Country Club for 50 years, but the club has been around twice as long.

Diplock, 83, has played more than a thousand rounds of golf at the club, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary June 30 with a party on the first tee.

“It’s pretty hard to find a club any better,” Diplock said one recent morning in the club’s restaurant after an early morning round of golf. “This is home.”

Local businessmen Guy Gannett, Percy Hill and Walter Wyman incorporated the Augusta Golf Co. June 30, 1916, after they and several others started meeting in May 1916 at the Augusta House hotel to discuss the possibility of creating a golf company that would build a golf country club, according to a history of the club written by Mark Laney.

The company bought the 100-acre Arthur A. Brainard Farm at the head of Cobbossee Lake and started developing a nine-hole golf course with the help of golf course architect Arthur George Lockwood, who was paid $114 on Aug. 1, 1916. Laney said no blueprints of the nine-hole course exist; they were probably lost in a fire on Halloween in 1925 that destroyed three-quarters of the clubhouse and the entire pro shop.

During the following spring, the pro shop was rebuilt where the 18th green is now. It moved to its current location in 1930 during the construction of the second nine holes. When the course opened, it was about 2,862 yards in length and didn’t contain any bunkers until 1919, when the course became a par 36.

The course became an 18-hole layout with the purchase of the former Weston Farm on the south side of the current U.S. Route 202. The second nine holes were designed by architects Wayne Stiles and John Van Cleek and opened in 1932.

A capital improvement project began in 1966 with the expansion of the lounge and men’s locker room; and from 1969 to 1970, an automated fairway watering system was installed.

Diplock, who was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame last year, said the course has undergone a lot of changes since she joined with her late husband more than 50 years ago.

“The layout is special,” Diplock said. “There didn’t use to be a watering system, and there didn’t used to be a pond, but now we have these things. It’s a good layout.”

That alone is not enough to keep a country club open for a century in these modern times, but the club has continued to do things to maintain membership and attract younger members.

Linda Cameron, secretary for the club’s board of governors and a longtime member, said like Maine, the club has an aging population, so it needs to adapt if it wants to stay relevant to younger generations.

“We try to listen to our members and try to meet everybody’s needs,” Cameron said. “The first thing twenty-somethings do is look online for an app, so we’ve created an online tee time reservation system this year. We’re trying to do things like that to make sure we are keeping up with what our younger members want and expect from us.”

Jason Hurd, the club’s general manager and head golf professional, said the country club industry has changed over the years. Clubs are catering to younger generations by building pools and fitness centers and by relaxing the club’s dress code, which used to require men to wear a jacket and tie in the dining room.

“For clubs to survive, you have to change with what’s happening on the outside,” Hurd said. “Whether that means offering a pub menu in the dining room or allowing jeans for the first time, you have to change with the times, or else you’d be shooting yourself in the foot.”

KEEPING THE CLUB OPEN

Hurd said the Board of Governors is constantly talking about new ways to do things and ways to bring in new members, but the club has to work with what it has and the money available, so building new amenities such as a pool or a fitness center isn’t feasible right now.

The First Tee program, a national program that introduces children ages 6-16 to golf, is active at the club, with 30 children signed up for an upcoming six-week program. The club also has movie and pizza night, when parents can enjoy dinner in the dining room while children eat pizza and watch a movie.

One of the other things the club does to attract younger members is night golf, which is exactly what it sounds like, though most players use neon-colored balls rather than the usual white ones.

“Night golf is a fun thing for the younger folks,” Cameron said. “We look for some of the things younger people are interested in doing.”

Cameron said the club used to be much more popular, but years ago, membership began to decline, as it did at country clubs nationwide. The club has 425 members as of this month, up from 373 at this time last year.

“We’re sort of leveling off now, and our membership seems to be staying reasonably steady,” she said. “That’s a good thing, because a lot of the private clubs didn’t make it.”

The golf industry’s decline can be seen nationally with clubs and courses closing and few new ones being built. Only 10 new courses were opened in 2015, according to the National Golf Foundation, while 130 to 160 courses are closing every year. The group estimates that there are about 4 million fewer golfers today in the U.S. than a decade ago.

Hurd and Cameron said it is a testament to the membership experience and the club’s management that the Augusta Country Club has been able to remain open for 100 years, especially considering there are only a handful of private clubs left in Maine. Hurd said in the past three years, the club has tightened expenses while still maintaining high customer service and “by doing this, we have been profitable.”

The club has several different membership options including family, individual and junior golf, social and corporate. Rates range from $3,175 for a family golf membership to $335 for an individual social membership.

A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Cameron said people want to play golf because it is a fun social activity that you can play whether you’re 25 or 85. The club also offers tennis and a private beach on Cobbossee Lake, and it has many different social events throughout the year.

“It all depends on what kind of experience you want,” she said. “If you want the experience where the course is maintained and conditions are at their best, where you get a lot of personal attention and where there are a lot of activities outside of golf, this is the place to be.”

Many people are second- and third-generation members who have remained a part of the club because of its tradition. Some of the people who belong, Cameron said, are young professionals who have colleagues and friends who share a passion for golf; and others are members because their parents or grandparents were.

“You don’t even have to play golf,” Cameron said. “You can just come and hang out, and you’ll get personal service where everybody knows your name.”

Everybody certainly knows Diplock’s name, and the name of Mark Plummer, a 13-time Maine amateur champion named by golf.com as the best golfer ever from Maine.

Diplock started playing golf in the late 1950s and has won the Women’s Maine State Senior Championship five times and is a 10-time women’s club champion at the Augusta Country Club. She’s one of six Hall of Famers to come from the Augusta Country Club, including Plummer.

She is also a longtime member of the Women’s Maine State Golf Association and has seen the changes in the way the club treats women over the years.

The club used to have restrictions on when women could play, Diplock said, but over the years, women were included more often in tournaments and the club started having mixed team events, and it doesn’t use the term “ladies’ tee” to describe the forward tees on the course.

Diplock said she first joined the club because friends were members and she enjoyed the competition.

“I like the competition and the friends that you’d meet and socialize with,” she said. Cameron is one of her regular playing partners, and the pair usually plays together several times per week.

“It’s a sport you can play until you’re pretty old, obviously,” Diplock said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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