In 1911, McAlester’s social and athletic life was was brought to a new level when a small group of citizens formed the McAlester Country Club.
In 1910, a strip of land 160 acres long was rented for the cost of thirty-two dollars and fifty cents per year. This land, which just four years before had been Indian Territory, was in 1914 bought for the price of $2,400. This included all 160 acres.
The source behind the effort was a man by the name of Melvin Cornish, a local attorney and first president of the club.
One of the first problems that the new board of directors faced was what to do with the pest house which stood near what is now the number one green.
Pest houses were common at the time and were used to quarantine victims of communicable diseases. Each one of these houses had a cook. They also had several guards to keep the quarantined persons from leaving. This particular pest house was in use at the time the club bought the land and housed several poor victims of small pox and other such diseases. The board had to decide to shut the pest house down in order to build the golf course.
At the April 29, 1911 board meeting, plans for a building 40 by 60 by 16 feet were requested. All was approved and the building was started on June 14, 1911. The open-air pavilion was finished on September 12, 1911 at a cost of $8,000.
Authur Jackson designed what is now called the “original nine” of the McAlester Golf course. He came to Oklahoma in 1907 from Scotland. In 1912, he became the assistant pro at the Tulsa Golf and Country Club. This was a few years after he designed three Oklahoma golf courses including the McAlester course. The golf course was ready for use in 1911, the first year the club was in operation.
The holes of the original nine stand much like they did when Jackson designed it. Some of the fairways have been lengthened and some have been shortened. Sand greens were used in the first 15 to 20 years, but later in the 1920’s bermuda grass was put in by inmate labor from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The Inmates would come early in the morning for work. The club would feed them their noon meal and they would work until late evening.
Hired in 1911, the first golf professional was named Guy P. Crooks. He served as pro for eight years until 1919. He and the next nine men to serve as pros were not “official” because none belonged to the Professional Golf Association. A more appropriate title would have been “greenskeepers” although many of them were good golfers. The first PGA Professional James H. Shelton arrived in 1957.
The club employed a number of golf-pros such as Bob Dickson, the 1967 U.S. and British Amateur Champion, two-time PGA Tour winner and one-time Champions Tour winner.
Since the original golf course was completed, tennis courts, swimming pools and a driving range have been added. A second nine holes, designed by PGA Professional Carl Higgins, was completed in 1999 which was intermingled with the old nine to form the course in the layout that exists today.
Since 1958, McAlester Country Club is host to one of the longest-running individual medal-play tournaments in Oklahoma. The MCC Invitational.