The Founding of Ulen Country Club

The beginning of a golf club in Lebanon began with a group of local residents known as The Fortnightly Club who met on March 20, 1922, at the home of Mrs. Carrie McDaniel to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The talk among the men that evening was where they would play their next round of golf next week: Frankfort, Indianapolis or Lafayette?  The conversation then shifted to possibilities of the group forming their own club, right in the Lebanon area.

With pencil in hand and a telephone book at his side, Fred Hooton and a group of men attending the observance listed the names of those whom they felt might be lured into forming a golf club.  Interest grew, and a second meeting was called for the following Monday at the offices of Adler & Co. in Lebanon.  It was at that meeting that a site selection committee for the new golf club was named.

Following that meeting, J. Walter Shumate called his friend Henry C. Ulen, who had earlier shown an interest in a golf club for his hometown of Lebanon, to advise him of the group’s efforts.  Shumate told Ulen, then at the headquarters of his Ulen Construction Corporation in New York, about a 40 acre farm that was for sale at the north edge of Lebanon.

Mr. Ulen stopped during one of his train trips from New York to Chicago and pronounced the site as too far north of Lebanon.  “If you fellows will find some land closer to Lebanon,” Mr. Ulen said, “I’ll build you a $50,000 club house, and you won’t have to change clothes in a cornfield.”  With such an offer on the table, the group wasted no time in finding a new site, but as it turned out, the cost of the club house soared to $100,000, a tidy sum in the 1920’s.  But it was an expense that “Uncle Henry” always believed was worth every penny.

Ulen Counry Club opened in 1924 as a nine-hole club and course.  Shortly there after, an ambitious program for planting trees, shrubs, and flowers began.  The second nine holes were added in 1926.  In 1968, the lake between the fourth and seventeenth holes was added and it ushered in the days of watered fairways, a luxury enjoyed by only the most prestigious clubs of the day.

Trees, although virtually non-existent on the course at its inception, have grown into a valuable golfing asset.  First growth oaks and walnuts populated the corner of several doglegs.  If a founder were to return today, the green at ten, which was visible from the tee and lacked obstruction from flight of the tee shot, is now totally shielded from view by tall, thick pines which take exception to the rule that trees are 90% air.

New plantings of maples in the early ’60’s turned the fourteenth, first, eighteenth, and ninth fairways into distinct, separate corridors leading from tee to green.