It all started with an idea/dream of Bert Stamps, the eventual course designer and 1st Golf Professional. He pursued the notion of a golf club out here in 1954 and approached Frank J. Sanders, who was extremely instrumental in getting things started. Bert was getting very excited about the idea of shaping Belmont Country Club and what would soon become a string of courses up and down the Golden State; including Kings River Golf and Country Club in Kingsburg, Mesquite Golf and Country Club Resort in Palm Springs, and San Luis Obispo Country Club.
Frank and Bert, after being unsuccessful in acquiring some land near Clovis and Belmont Avenues, approached Walt Tomerlin. He owned the 94 acre parcel on which the course now resides. The original parcel was previously a grape vineyard farmed by Walt. That land was then divided into sections that included the golf course, streets, and home lots sold to those who would later become members. The circle drive (Sander Court) that the course wraps around, is named after Frank J. Sanders.
After some of the particulars were worked out, the Belmont County Club was built in 1955 and opened in October of 1956. Frank, Bert, and Walt (along with a few others) formed a corporation called "Belmont Park Corporation" and they sold shares which went for a whopping $100.00 each. Now that was a lot of "green" in those days! Walt Tomerlin and Frank J Sanders were major shareholders and had a lot to do with the early success of the club. (Ironically, Mr. Tomerlin owned a set of golf clubs but never played)
In 1956, the regular membership had an initiation of $250.00 and monthly dues were $18.50. A couple of years later, the initiation went down to $150.00. The goal at that time was 250 members. The golf shop was run by Bert Stamps and he had a young assistant by the name of Hap Rose. (Incidentally, Bert built the 1st home on the property.) The building in which the pro shop and club office now reside is the same building these two men worked out of some 50+ years ago. At that time it was used as a Pro Shop, Coffee Shop, Office, and storage facility. There was a ranch house that stoof just west of the Pro Shop and where our current cart barn is now. Shortly after the course opened, the ranch house was moved to a lot just North of where the current fifth tee sits. After bring vacant for many years, Bob and Julie Wyrick bought the home in 1996 and renovated it to its current beauty. A swimming pool (and small cart barn) was built where the ranch house previously stood. The pool was enjoyed by young and old, for many years until its demise in 1992. The need to modernize the existing cart storage area triggered the new cart barn facility, which was also built in 1992, supervised by a member and then contractor George Alexander.
The members bought the course from the corporation in 1962. At that time, the club sold "Lifetime Memberships" to who ever was interested. They were going for $2,400.00 each and fifteen people purchased them. (These individuals were free from monthly dues and assessments.)
Professionally speaking, Bert Stamps was in command until Hap Rose took over in 1959. Hap remained until 1978. After that Larry Babica, Kelly Wolfe, and Mike Schy were resident Professionals for roughly five years each. PGA Professional, Kelly Collins was in place from December 1994 to January 2010. The first Superintendent was Own Stone from 1956 to 1975. The Stone family has been in the business of looking after Golf Courses in the area for forty years. Currently, there are several Stones affiliated at prominent clubs up and down the Valley. It is said that is you are fortunate enough to have a Stone at your facility, you have the wisdom of all of them put together.
The Professional with the greatest impact and the longest tenure was Hap Rose. He did a great deal for this club, and by all accounts, Hap went way beyond the call of duty. He lived on the course and did what ever was necessary to keep the place moving forward. His wife, Pretz was an active part of the program as well; helping whenever needed and also enjoyed playing with the other ladies. Hap was the assistant for three years and then the Head Professional for another nineteen, moving on in July of 1978. Gary Bauer, Professional at Fig Garden G.C., was the assistant to Hap for many years and he was famous for his salesmanship. When Hap went on his month long annual hiatus back to Minnesota, where he was from, Gary would sell the shop bare. He, aside from being a phenomenal golfer, would wheel and deal with the best of them and have no problem thinning out Haps inventory for him while he was away.
There was another "assistant" by the name of Jet. An amazing dog, he was. Hap trained him to stay within the boundary of the course and he did. The black lab was a fixture around Belmont. That dog was many things, not the least of which was rescue messenger and delivery agent. If a cart went down on the course, Jet was summoned by whistle. A note was scribbled out and placed in Jett's mouth and told to return to the shop. Hap would then come out with Ralph, the long time cart man, and take care of the situation. Jet would also amazingly deliver, upon command, things to Pretz at home. We are talking about a dog putting a small bag, the mail, or a slip if paper in his mouth, traveling across the course to #5 tee. Now, if someone would try and get close to Jet while in route, he would snarl, growl, and simply would not allow someone other than the receiving party, access to the goods. The dog was so protective of his territory too, continually chasing off stray dogs that wondered onto the course. He played an important role in keeping the morale up around here.
The fire of 1982 was an especially trying time, and was apparently caused by spontaneous combustion in the kitchen. Some of the members saw the flames from the "circle" and called the authorities. It was very difficult to not have a functioning clubhouse. People were in shock but dealt with it as best they could... and went on. Within a year and a half the new building was designed, built, and operational.
The camaraderie was tremendous early on, and established an atmosphere that continues today. the poolside patio area was the site of many a gathering. Especially during the years of the clubhouse fire, this areas was a popular hangout for visiting, socializing, and general carrying on. Members would have parties here all the time. The coffee shop had a modest kitchen in it and would service the members for many years. In fact, even after the clubhouse was build (1958), the food was prepared in the coffee shop and then sent over and served in the banquet room. For big parties or small, that was the program until the clubhouse added the "new" kitchen in 1964.
Most of the projects were worked on by members, members that put their heart and soul into things. This was and is their club and their actions reflect it. They put their muscle, time, and efforts where their proverbial mouth was. Unfortunately, it is impossible to list all the members that have impacted the progress of this club, but their efforts toward the common goal are immeasurable, and their legacy is carried on by the current members and staff who enjoy Belmont Country Club today.
Other significant events were:
Clubhouse was built- 1958
Clubhouse Additions- 1960 (Ballroom), 1964 (Kitchen)
Cable Fence around course- 1980
Clubhouse burned down- 1982
New Clubhouse built- 1983
Sprinkler system- completed in 1986
Cart Paths (around tees and greens)- completed in 1989
Golf Course and Clubhouse Renovations- completed in 2008
Research Reference: Wes Johnson, Roy Telesco, Hap Rose, Otto Suda, Willy Suda, Larry Cloud
Research Preformed by: Kenneth James Collins PGA Professional.