Glen Oaks Golf Club was established in 1967. The architect, owner, and operator for over 40 years was Bill McRee, a native of Maiden, NC. The original 9 holes was built on the farm of his father, Glen McRee, for whom the course was named. Bill McRee passed away on July 11, 2007.
As told by Bill McRee in March 2007…
I have been asked many times how Glen Oaks originated. This is the story to the best of my knowledge and records that my wife Gwen and I have kept over the years.
In the spring of 1965, Bill Rose, Ern Carter, Harry Curlee & I had been playing golf at Cherryville Country Club’s 9-hole course. Coming home, we passed by my dad’s (Glen McRee) farm. I remember making the remark that Dad had quit farming and his 78-acre farm would make a good 9-hole golf course.
Land in the part of the county was bringing about $300 per acre. I went and made a deal with my dad to give him $500 per acre ($39,000). I was in the building and grading business at that time. When I didn’t have jobs for the grading equipment, I had them clearing the fairways and building the lake on holes 8 & 9 (this work was done in 1965 & early 1966).
We laid out the first 9 holes and on weekends I built and shaped the greens and tees. I had E.J. Smith Co. to lay out irrigation and planned for the materials. I decided to rent a ditching machine for $700 a week. I staked out the irrigation line and had one of my construction employees dig during the day and I would take over at night until around midnight. Gwen would drive the truck and shine lights so I could see where I was going. We dug all the ditches in six days.
Using some of my construction employees, we installed the water lines within the next two weeks. We then plowed, disked, and smoothed fairways and got them ready to seed. I bought Tifton 328 sprigs from Augusta, GA. We shaped and smoothed tees and greens and had the Augusta Sod Co. to sprig them. We were then ready to start watering (all of our irrigation water came from the lake on holes 8 & 9) and hoped to see grass start growing.
We then started on construction on a 4,000 sq. ft. club house. Downstairs we had the pro shop, snack bar, club room and locker room. We also had golf cart storage under the front porch. The upstairs was all one room. Then the time came to name the club. Gwen suggested that since this was Dad’s old farm (Glen McRee), that we should name it after him, and so it was.
There were many people in Maiden who had lots of faith in what we were doing. These people joined the club in 1966, a year before it officially opened, which was on April 27th, 1967. They are, in the order that they joined: Charles Abernethy; Brady Lawing; Hollis Bolick; Ronnie Keener; Whip Wilson; Gene Wilson; Blair Abernathy; Ern Carter; John James; Fred Pope; Bill Rose; George Whisenant Jr.; Pete Whisenant; Marcus Midgett; Charles Wilson; Lanny Shelton; Jerry Harbinson; Tom Brown; Robert McRee; Larry Harris; Yates Harbinson, Jr.; Richard Williams; Paul McRee; Wesley Rose; K B Clippard; Ralph Bumgarner; John Cooke; Ray Poovey; Albert Campbell; Jim McRee; Buck Reid; Bill Berry and Ned Jarrett.
In 1969, we build and opened 3 more golf holes across the road from holes 8 & 9. We operated the first 12-hole golf course for several years. In 1971, I traded a 55-acre farm that I had owned for several years, for a track of land that gave us enough property for six more holes. We built another lake and finished the holes in 1972.
Improving this golf course and making it succeed was my dream, but in 1975 I remember telling Gwen that we had a thriving construction business and somehow it seemed a little stupid to be spending everything we made in that area to improve the golf course and keep it going. In 1975, we decided to phase out the construction company, sell all of its real property, use that money to pay off our debts and devote all the time to improving Glen Oaks. As membership grew, it was necessary to expand the clubhouse. The pro shop, kitchen and snack bar were built upstairs. An official cart shed was built, and more carts were purchased. A swimming pool and tennis courts were added. We then built our house here and moved into it on March 25, 1976.
In 1984, cart paths were completed around the entire golf course. In February of that year, we bought the Katherine Biggerstaff property (adjacent to #3 fairway). We built three new golf holes and 17 building lots. The three new holes were opened in mid-summer 1985. We then closed the three holes across the street. In that same year, the pro shop was remodeled; the dining room and office were enlarged.
At the end of the summer of 1986 (the summer of the long drought), the swimming pool and bath house were completely removed with plans for a bigger and better pool and new bathhouses. We were also able to acquire enough land from Joe Parker to redesign hole #4. All were opened in the spring of 1987.
Our cart shed was destroyed by fire on September 23, 1987. We rebuilt it and housed 64 new carts by that December. Hurricane Hugo came along on September 22, 1989, and hit us hard. It downed approximately 700 trees, one on the cart shed and one on the clubhouse. We worked for months cleaning up trees and debris.
In June of 1990, 10 acres of land was purchased for a driving range. We cleaned the land, built the tee and smoothed the range. We then graded and installed the fence and opened the driving range in the fall of 1991.
I feel that the best things we have done to improve the golf course was deciding to rebuild all the greens to USGA specifications. What that amounts to is re-grading the green to the shape we wanted it, putting 4” drain tile six feet apart in 6” trenches and lead tile off the green to the rough area; putting 4-6” washed stone over the entire green; covering the stone with landscape cloth and finally 14” of sand and peat mixture; reshape and sow or sod. We started with holes 2 &11 in 1991 and did four greens per year, two in the spring and two in the fall until they were all completed. In 1993, lightening hit the big oak tree in the middle of #10 fairway. It stood 100 yards from the green and had to be removed. This made many of our members happy.
In 1999, the men’s locker room was redone to include 110 new and larger lockers; the bathrooms were re-tiled and updated.
We installed a completely new pumping & irrigation system on the entire golf course in 2001. A new 800 ft. deep well was dug in 2002 to supply more irrigation water. The latest addition to Glen Oaks was our picnic shelter (which took the place of our tennis courts) in 2003.
This concludes the history of how Glen Oaks originated. It would have been impossible for me without the encouragement, help and lots of work by Gwen. Some key employees also made this possible. Nelson Canipe came here in 1972. He was a hard worker and wanted to learn. After a while, he took a huge load off of me and was like my right arm. Alan Cloninger came here in 1983 as club manager. He had a big hand in the success of Glen Oaks.
Since the beginning of this golf course, we have geared memberships and everyday play to the average working family by striving to keep our dues and rates low. Glen Oaks prides itself on being a golf course that anyone and everyone can enjoy.