A Brief History

  • In 1901, thanks to the donation of the land from James Irvine, a nine-hole golf course called The Santiago Country Club was built in Peters Canyon. The largest membership at Santiago was around 45 players.
  • The Santiago Country Club operated in this spot until 1914, when an 18-hole course known as Orange County Country Club was opened on the Castaways property in Newport Beach.
  • On April 17, 1923 it was noted in the Santa Ana Register that “the purchase of 144.29 acres from Bradford and Bryan McCoy, Santa Ana Heights, as a site for new Santa Ana Country Club”. It is understood the site was bought for $71,000.
  • On the evening of April 26, 1923 a meeting was held to elect officers for the Board of Directors and adopt bylaws. The original Board of Directors hoped to procure 400 members at an initiation fee of $400 each.
  • In June 1931 the first issue of the Putter Patter was produced “with the intent of being published by and for the Members in the interest of the Club.”
  • In 1932 the economy of the country was beginning to negatively impact golf and country club operations all over the United States. Determined Orange County professionals, businessmen and their wives kept Santa Ana Country Club afloat by diligent planning and assuming duties at the Club and dinner parties.
  • Resignations peaked in 1938 at nearly 90 men due to the cloud of the Depression. During that year, Bob Fernandez submitted a report on Membership Income and Club Expenses in a Club Meeting. Years later, Mr. Fernandez would have a tournament named in his honor for all his efforts dedicated to keeping Santa Ana Country Club going during the Depression.
  • During the summers following 1942 it became a tradition of many Los Angeles residents to summer vacation in Orange County and many became regulars at the course.
  • Sunday, October 25, 1942 would be one of the grandest days of golf at SACC. A gala golf exhibition was staged for the benefit of the “Army Emergency Relief Fund” with the following participants worth mentioning: Bob Hope, Ed Kennedy, Bing Crosby, Mickey Rooney and many golf champions.
  • In August 1949, with the Course and Club’s popularity rising among the summer visitors from Los Angeles, the Board of Directors initiated the first Invitational Tournament.
  • In 1951 Santa Ana Country Club upgraded the course, refurbished the clubhouse, and added a golf shop.
  • In the early 1960’s there was a lot of discussion to renovate the Clubhouse and make improvements on the Course in order to stay up with our competition. By 1962 the decision had been made to go with the improvements but the Club had one major reservation. One of the renovations passed was to replace dry wash areas with shallow lakes which would need massive amounts of water that the Club did not have access to. Together the President at that time, Lou Clem, and the Greens Superintendent, Joe Williams, eventually convinced the Board to go ahead with these changes. “The success of the project dramatically changed the topography, beauty and play of the course.”
  • In 1969, after deliberations, the perimeter property, now known as The Master’s Circle, was annexed to Costa Mesa, while the Santa Ana Country Club grounds remained in the unincorporated part of Orange County and still does today.

  • In 1970, the Board of Directors were successful in moving a few holes of the golf course for zoning reasons, keeping the Clubhouse construction project under budget and moving the maintenance yard. Due to heavy rains and other expected setbacks the new Clubhouse was completed in 18 months, July 12, 1970.
  • By 1980 the Santa Ana Country Club had 400 regular, 15 young associate, 34 women associate and 194 social executive members. President in 1980, John Griff, decided the Clubhouse needed to be remodeled calling it a “necessity”. The kitchen was modernized, storages were improved, the ladies locker room was expanded and improved, a patio was created outside the dining room, the Terrace Room was created and much more.
  • In October 1984 the retirement of Director of Golf, Gerald Hall was announced after 23 years on the job. He passed down the reins to Mike Reehl. Mike’s career at Santa Ana Country Club started in 1967 as a bag boy eventually moving to a part-time starter, to the Assistant Pro & Teacher to eventually the Club’s Golf Pro.
    With the Clubhouse reaching its 20th birthday in 1990, their discussion about renovating the Clubhouse became a hot topic, with many members wanting to see the facility upgraded.
  • On November 12, 1993, the Clubhouse renovation was complete and the House Committee was proud that work was done within the established budget of $1,370,000. The renovation project included the air conditioning and heating in the main bar, new administrative offices and the extension of the Club entry and reception area, new oak doors added at the golf entry, the clubhouse was re-carpeted and the clubhouse was completely re-painted.
  • During 1998 the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary of the Santa Ana Invitational Tournament.
  • In 2008, the Club's long tradition of tournaments continued with the two big events celebrating anniversaries. The Santa Ana Invitational celebrated its 60th anniversary and continues to thrive. During the same year, the Santa Ana Derby Member-Guest celebrated its 50th anniversary and has become an event the membership looks forward to year after year.
  • In 2009 and 2010, after much debate among the membership about the best approach, a Clubhouse renovation project was completed with a budget of approximately $4 million. The major work of the project was aimed at carrying the rich wood ambiance of the Men's Card Room throughout the entire clubhouse; work included new carpet and paint throughout, new chairs and furniture, renovations and upgrades to the Women's Locker Room, and a complete remodel of the Golf Shop to its current state.
  • In June 2012, Director of Golf Mike Reehl retired – and was named Pro Emeritus - after 25 years in charge of the Golf Operation, and 45 years of service to Santa Ana Country Club. Geoff Cochrane was named successor to Reehl as Head Golf Professional.
  • In 2014, the Club initiated a construction project to create a Mixed Tavern in the location of the former women’s card room. Today, TAVERN 1901 has a prime location and view of the Golf Course, including beautiful patio seating.
  • In 2016 the golf course underwent a complete transformation and the embarked on an 8 million dollar golf course revitalization project and complete rerouting. The project commenced on February 1, 2016 and the grand opening was on November 3, 2016.
  • During the Golf Course Revitalization Project the Club also complete rebuilt Mulligan's snack shake - the finished look is Mediterranean motif. 
  • 116 years… and counting!!