Originally incorporated in 1896 as Queens County Golf Club, the club renamed itself Nassau Country Club when Nassau County was formed in 1898.
Nassau member J.B. Coles Tappan is credited with devising a system where a player could still win a match despite a poor opening nine holes. This type of match, in which a competitor is awarded a point each for winning the first nine, the second nine and the overall 18 holes, is commonly known as a “Nassau.”
Another part of Nassau Country Club lore involves the “Calamity Jane” putter used by Bob Jones to win his nine USGA championships, as well as the Grand Slam of 1930. Jones was playing a tuneup round at Nassau with host professional Jim Maiden for the 1923 U.S. Open, being held at nearby Inwood Country Club, and Jones was struggling on the greens. After the round, Maiden asked Jones to try out a putter that he had nicknamed “Calamity Jane.” According to Nassau’s website, Jones was quickly rolling in 6-footers with ease. Jones proceeded to win the U.S. Open for his first major-championship victory, and he used “Calamity Jane” until he retired in 1930 after completing the Grand Slam.
Today, the putter is displayed at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., and the halfway house at Nassau Country Club, which contains items from the club’s rich history, has been renamed Calamity Jane House. The building also honors one of the club’s early professionals, Alex Smith, who claimed the U.S. Open in 1906 and 1910.
This year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur will be the third USGA championship at Nassau Country Club, and the first in 100 years. In 1914, Katherine Harley defeated Elaine V. Rosenthal, 1 up, in the U.S. Women’s Amateur championship match. Eleven years earlier, Walter Travis won his third and final U.S. Amateur, defeating Eben Byers, 5 and 4, in the final at Nassau.
Nassau has also hosted several state and regional events, including the New York State Amateur, Long Island Open, eight Metropolitan Golf Association Amateurs and three Metropolitan Opens.
Since 1897, the club has hosted the Nassau Invitational, whose champions include Travis, Jerome Travers, Tommy Armour and George Zahringer. Travers, who won the 1907, 1908, 1912 and 1913 U.S. Amateurs and the 1915 U.S. Open, is one of several USGA champions who were Nassau C.C. members. The list also includes Ruth Underhill, the 1899 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, 1898 U.S. Amateur champion and future USGA president Findlay S. Douglas and 1965 USGA Senior Amateur champion Robert Kiersky.
Another Nassau member, Howard F. Whitney, served as USGA president in 1921.
Originally a nine-hole layout, the course expanded to 18 holes when it moved to its present site in Glen Cove, N.Y. In 1914, noted architect and C.B. Macdonald protégé Seth Raynor did extensive renovation and lengthening of the course. As the club acquired additional land, noted architects Devereux Emmet (1920) and Herbert Strong (1922) made adjustments to the course. Recent bunker renovations and other revisions were made in 2007 by Cynthia Dye McGarey, and in 2012, the Tom Fazio Group renovated the green complexes.
While golf will be the focus at the Women’s Amateur, Nassau C.C. also has a rich tennis history. The Nassau Invitational was an annual stop on the U.S. Amateur Tennis Tour, and its winners include Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs and Bill Tilden. Because of its lawn courts, Nassau attracted players preparing for the U.S. Open at nearby Forest Hills. Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis all played at Nassau.