North Carolina Historic Sites
Meadowbrook Country Club
Meadowbrook Country Club in Garner celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009 with minimal fanfare. The modest nine-hole golf course just south of Raleigh will never be confused with Pinehurst or any of North Carolina's other highly ranked golf destinations. However, few, if any, of Meadowbrook’s more recognized counterparts can equal its contributions to cultural and social change in the state – and even the nation.
In the 1950s, African Americans who wanted to be involved in the game of golf were primarily limited to being caddies. Few had the opportunity to play the game. It was not until a generation later that Lee Elder became the first African American allowed to compete in The Masters.
During this era of segregation, a group of Raleigh-area African American businessmen decided to establish a country club. Forty-five charter members paid $100 each for membership in Meadowbrook at its inaugural meeting on November 6, 1958.
The club purchased 136 acres of former tobacco land and pioneered one of the country's first country clubs for African Americans. Most of these trailblazing members were prominent community leaders. They included top administrators at predominantly African American Shaw University and Saint Augustine’s College, as well as principals, teachers, lawyers, dentists, physicians and other business professionals.
According to the Meadowbrook website, the original mission was to "…build, develop and make available to the Negro citizenry of Raleigh and others, who show by their subscription a desire to participate, a country club to afford the members a place for wholesome recreation…"
Raleigh native Gene Hamm was hired as the course architect. Hamm went on to design approximately 50 golf courses in North Carolina as well as others in South Carolina and Virginia. The nine holes at Meadowbrook are believed to be among his first creations.
Club members were responsible for building many of Meadowbrook Country Club's other amenities, including the clubhouse, pro shop and a putt-putt course. A swimming pool and tennis courts were later added to the club's offerings.
Meadowbrook burgeoned in the 1960s and 70s with its membership approaching 200. During the civil rights movement, clubs that had once barred blacks began to open their doors to them. Many of Meadowbrook’s members moved on to more upscale clubs that offered amenities such as pristine 18-hole golf courses, large clubhouses and clay-surface tennis courts. Historic Meadowbrook fell into disrepair and its membership numbers dwindled.
St. Augustine's College purchased the club in 2007 and a revival is in progress. Meadowbrook offers green fees ($15 for nine holes, $5 for a second trip around) that appeal to the most budget conscious golfers. The course is open to all golfers, but Meadowbrook continues to proudly hold tight to its ethnic heritage that was a groundbreaking achievement in its time.
By Patrick Jones
By Patrick Jones
added: January 28, 2010
updated: February 2, 2010