From Onions to Golf Balls

Although the students of Staples High School never knew the town of Westport as it used to be, many would be surprised to know the deep-rooted history of our hometowns past. Whoever lived here before us back in 2,000 B.C. was using gouges and adzes (an axe-like tool) that were actually found on the area of land that now occupies the Longshore Golf Club.

Regarded as the “most significant land acquisition in Westport’s history,” the Longshore Beach and Country Club opened to the public on May 28, 1960. But before any of this happened someone else was using these tools, and not to play golf.

Just last year the club celebrated its 50-year anniversary. With 50 years down and many more to come, the club definitely sports some interesting stories behind its manicured course.

According to “Westport Connecticut” by Woody Klein, Longshore was known as Compo Farm from the beginning of its existence up until the early 20th century. The land’s original owner was the Cutting family of Brooklyn, who found the land good f the land to grow onions. Charles Francis Godfrey and his family worked for the Cuttings while they owned the farm, and when the Cuttings moved to New York, he began supervising the land.

Years later, New York tycoon Alexander M. Lawrence purchased the 180-acre farmhouse. Then, in 1929, the land once again changed ownership when Patrick Powers converted it into a private country club—Longshore. Twenty-three years later, the Powers sold the property, and the town of Westport bought the land seven years after that, making it public to all Westport residents.

John Cooper, current golf course manager, said “it was designed to be a family style golf course and is very user friendly. They don’t tend to build these types of golf courses anymore.”

The uniqueness of the course may have been just what had drawn countless numbers of celebrities to Longshore in years past.  According to Cooper, Harry Connick Jr., Sergeant Slaughter (WWE wrestler), Bob Hope and Babe Ruth are just some of the big names that have enjoyed the services that the club has to offer. Bert Lahr who starred inThe Wizard of Oz” as the cowardly lion was the Club Champ in 1933.

For many years now, the Staples High School golf team, who won both FCIAC and State Championships in 2012, has held practices on the Longshore Golf Course after school during their spring season. Players from the 2012 team are extremely fond of their home course.

“I really think that Longshore is perfect for what it is. It is a very easy course because it is short and open, but there are a lot of risks to take for better players. I think it’s a great course to learn on, and therefore we see a lot of beginners, women, kids, and elderly out there,” says senior captain Austin Alianiello.

Those who have golfed at Longshore know the best times to be out on the course. For most, the best time of the year to golf is late summer, when the days are warm and the nights are slightly cool. According to Alianiello, the two “golden hours,” which are from 6 to 7 a.m., and 6 to 7 p.m. in the summer, are the best.

Members of the golf team, including junior Devon Lowman, have experienced extremely memorable events on the Longshore Golf Course. “My favorite hole is hole number 11, because it’s a nice par three, and I had my first hole in one there,” says Lowman.

Considering the fact that 35,000 rounds were played on the Longshore Golf Course last year, many people may have also enjoyed their first hole in one in 2011.

Since its days of growing root vegetables, the Longshore Club has greatly expanded the use of its land. There are now a tennis pro shop, lockers, food concession and a  vastly improved pool, inn, golf course and marina, far superior to anything that used to be there.