Golf La Grange, best golf in Texas
It all started over coffee one morning, more than 40 years ago. At least that's the way Bill Johnston remembers the founding of the golf course in La Grange's Frisch Auf! Valley Country Club. There aren't many of the Golf Club's 76 Charter Members around any more. Some have died, resigned or moved away from La Grange. A group gathered one day for lunch to reminisce about the founding of what has become a Fayette County institution. They remembered about the days when members were called on to help wait tables and even bake pies, because there wasn't enough help and the time a plane landed on the golf course (twice).
As for the origins of the La Grange golf course, there were five friends that used to have coffee together downtown. "Doc" (E.L.) Fitzpatrick was a big golfer, but he'd have to go to other places to play. One morning he said "What this town needs is a Country Club." Those at the table agreed and were willing to back it up with their wallets. Doc said the vision he and the others had of a local golf course began to take shape when they would sight their rifles on the caliche cliffs not far from the present day golf course.
The La Grange Golf Country Club idea didn't take off until Frisch Auf! became a premier housing development in 1967 that was the brain child of nine locals, Ted Houghton, Leon Schmidt, Leslie Boelsche, Elvis Meiners, Joe Hild, Walter Oeltjen, Richard Cernosek, Tom Phillips, G.B. Mueller and later V.A. Hrbacek.
The 351 acres of land were bought from the archdiocese of San Antonio, which had been given the land by the Kreische family (of the historic brewery now preserved at the state park). The idea of the golf course/ Country Club built on Frisch Auf! land gained support as a way to help the housing development in La Grange. So in 1968, 30 or so people met at the Cottonwood Inn and signed pledges to become members of the new Frisch Auf! Valley Country Club at a cost of $300 per person with monthly dues of $8 or $10 depending how close you lived to the course. Larry Klein was the first to plunk down his money. Doc was given the member number 1. Ultimately 76 charter members were signed up, a number that soon grew to 300. Four Junior members were part of the Charter class including Mike Shoppa and Walter Stoever. Dr. Leslie Boelsche was the first president.
The course was designed by Houstonian Jay Riviere (who has crafted more than 30 courses), but much of the landscaping and turf work was done by locals. The pro shop, which is still in use, was built by wood shop students from La Grange High School. initial plans were for a "highland course" farther up on the bluff and a "lowland course" with the hopes of as many as 36 holes. But the initial 9-hole format has remained the same.
One of the unique features of the golf course in La Grange is that even though it is part of the Country Club, anyone can pay to play. We wanted a Golf Club in La Grange where the bank president could play with the bank janitor.
In 1972 the restaurant was opened, followed by the tennis courts in the late 1970's.
Membership in the Club has had it highs and lows but with current membership now having risen to 606. There are nine members on the Board of Directors and a General Manager.
"Frisch Auf! is the end product of a lot of work by a lot of people," Doc said. "I don't think I'd have done anything differently. This is one of the best things that's happened to this area."