The Sand Point Country Club and Golf Course in northeast Seattle sits on a high northeast-facing bluff with a view out over Lake Washington and to the mountains beyond. The golf course opened on July 4, 1927 and took its name as a reference to the nearby Naval Air Station which was already under development in that decade. Samuel E. Hayes, the founder of the golf course, must have hoped to capitalize on the prestige of the military presence and the anticipation of more people coming to live in the area around the naval base on Sand Point Way NE.
The game of golf comes to Seattle
The United States Golf Association was formed in 1894 as there were already several cities where the sport of golf, imported from Scotland, was becoming popular. In north Seattle golf games began in 1895 in a pasture along the east side of Stone Way in what is now Wallingford.
In 1900 Seattle businessman Josiah Collins visited the Oak Bay Club in Victoria, B.C. and was inspired to get a real golf course in Seattle. With 53 founding members, the Seattle Golf Club was formed. The group rented 55 acres from farmer David Ferguson in what would later become Laurelhurst. The Ferguson-farm golf course was essentially just a pasture, and had only nine holes. (The Ferguson farmhouse was later modified and moved to another street in Laurelhurst. In 2018 the house was advertised for sale for 3.1 million dollars.)
The AYP Exposition sets off a land rush in northeast Seattle
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, a world’s fair held on the campus of the University of Washington, set off a land rush by developers who wanted to acquire areas adjacent to the UW. In the three years prior to the opening of the AYPE the McLaughlin Realty Company began to buy up land around what had been the village of Yesler, present site of the Center for Urban Horticulture, and to the east, all the way over to Lake Washington, which they platted as Laurelhurst.
McLaughlin Realty wanted to acquire the Ferguson-farm golf course site to become part of Laurelhurst, so in 1907 the company proposed a land swap. McLaughlin offered the golf group a new site in what is now Shoreline, and that is how the Seattle Golf Club came to be at its present location, 210 NW 145th Street. The move of the golf club to Shoreline left north Seattle without any other private golf course.
One of the charter members of the Seattle Golf Club was Lewis Schwager. After practicing law in Minnesota, in 1900 at age 30 Schwager came to Seattle and became a “timber baron.” Like John G. Matthews, on the census of 1910 in Seattle, Lewis Schwager listed himself as a lumber dealer rather than his former occupation of attorney. Schwager looked for available land in order to harvest the trees and then sell the site for development.
By 1909 a man who was also from Minnesota, Samuel Hayes, twelve years younger than Lewis Schwager, was working at the lumber company as a manager. When Schwager retired in 1925, Samuel Hayes, age 43, became president of the lumber company. By 1940, Hayes was out of the lumber business and was head of a real estate investment group.
Samuel Hayes, founder of the Sand Point Country Club
The story of golf in north Seattle is intertwined with the heyday of lumber companies who cleared tracts of land and then did real estate residential development. In the relatively prosperous period of the 1920s Samuel Hayes correctly predicted that there would be sufficient numbers of people who would want to subscribe to a private golf club, and that adjacent areas could also be developed for housing.
In 1925 Samuel Hayes began the two-year process of developing his new Sand Point Golf Course, which included grading and contouring the land, laying out the course, planting and grooming the grass. Hayes laid out the course in a semi-circle around a center oval for houses. The course extended from NE 75th to 85th Streets, 45th to 55th Avenues NE.
In March 1927 Samuel Hayes began a publicity blitz by announcing that articles of incorporation had been filed for the Sand Point Golf Club. The names of all the officers were listed in the announcement, and since there were many prominent names, the message that was being sent was that the golf club would be well-managed and it would appeal to prosperous businessmen.
News articles announced that the president of the Sand Point Golf Club was Robert W. Clark, an executive with Puget Sound Power & Light. A.M. Atwood of a well-known real estate agency and Quinn Smith of Seattle Title Trust Company were officers in the new golf club.
The golf course gets ready to open in 1927
When newspapers announced on March 20, 1927 that memberships were being taken, large numbers of people started dropping by to see the new golf course. Golf players wanted to see it for themselves and walk the grounds, and Sam Hayes was there to meet them and give tours. Seattle Golf Club had moved from Laurelhurst to Shoreline in 1908, leaving north Seattle without any other golf course. Samuel Hayes’ new Sand Point Country Club and Golf Course capitalized on pent-up demand.
In March 1927 visitors to the Sand Point golf course could see work still going on. Workmen were digging for a water reservoir, laying irrigation pipes and were graveling NE 75th Street from 35th Ave NE all the way eastward to the golf course entrance at the corner of 45th Ave NE. The 1927 club building at that corner, pictured above, later became a private residence. The present Country Club building was completed in 1930. The entrance to Sand Point Country Club is now on NE 75th Street at 49th Ave NE with the club building located on the northeast corner of the site.
The golf course officially opens on July 4, 1927
The Sand Point Country Club and Golf Course opened on time on July 4, 1927. It was off to a good start, with a large number of memberships. But before long the effects of an economic depression began to be felt, and the golf course struggled through the 1930s.
The economic depression affected the other development plans, as well, for houses within the golf club grounds. Sam Hayes had already had experience in real estate development when in 1924 he platted Hayes Park, located on the west side of 25th Ave NE, straight across NE 82nd Street from the Picardo Farm. But at Sand Point Country Club, the plans for houses did not go forward until about 1940, when federal programs for wartime housing helped break the economic slump.
Sam Hayes worked with View Ridge developer Ralph P. Jones to construct new houses in Sand Point Country Club, and one of the first houses completed was for the Hayes family at 8001 Lakemont Drive.
Houses continued to be built at the Sand Point Country Club site into the 1950s, filling up the 204 house lots.
Today’s Sand Point Country Club and Golf Course
The sport of golf revived again after the end of World War Two in 1945, and post-war housing was in great demand so that all of the Sand Point Country Club lots were filled.
In recent years the clubhouse has been remodeled and upgraded, and the Sand Point Country Club offers swimming, tennis, exercise facilities and access to the dining room for the club members.
Just as is happening now throughout many areas of northeast Seattle, some of the original houses in the Country Club development have been remodeled or even torn down, and some newer styles of houses are beginning to be seen.
Census and city directory listings for Samuel E. Hayes.
“Golf arrives in Seattle in 1895,” HistoryLink Essay #3013 by David Wilma, 2001.
“Lewis Schwager” (obituary) Seattle Daily Times, April 17, 1945, page 10.
Newspaper articles of March 1927 (several dates) in the Seattle Daily Times.
Plat maps, King County property records: Hayes Park, platted 1924; Sand Point Country Club 1927.
Seattle Golf Club website.