The History of Hidden Valley / Fort Douglas Country Club
Originally Hidden Valley Country Club was named The Fort Douglas Club. It was incorporated as a member-owned, nonprofit club and opened Valentine's Day, 1928. The first members were civilian golf and polo members of the Officers Club of Fort Douglas, and they considered it a golf, polo, tennis and social club.
The club was initially created to improve public relations between the military administrators at Fort Douglas and the local civilian population.
One source of the poor relationship was concern over the actions of some prisoners of war who were housed in prison barracks surrounded by two barbed wire fences 15 feet apart. At one time, there were as many as 700 such occupants, including 331 German sailors who made numerous attempts to escape by tunneling and wire cutting.
Brigadier Gen. U.G. McAlexander, was commander of the famous prison during World War I, at Fort Douglas Military Post. Over time, he developed friendships with many of his neighbors and proposed a plan to improve the local military image.
He agreed to provide labor, horses and equipment if the civilians would raise funds for seed, pipe, sprinklers and hose, so that a golf course could be built on the Fort Douglas grounds. The membership would include post officers and civilians.
By selling memberships at $100 each, the general collected a fund of $10,000. In 1923, an 18-hole golf course was laid out, and the ground plowed and harrowed by horse-drawn equipment. Gradually, the course took shape, culminating in a small clubhouse, built of lumber saved from the demolition of war buildings.
Over the years, that clubhouse was expanded so often that it became a showplace. The clubhouse featured attractive rock work, diverse and beautiful rooms, and an amazing view of the valley.
When water from Red Butte Creek proved to be inadequate for the growing of a golf course, U.S. Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah promoted a bill through Congress allowing a $370,000 dam to be built in Red Butte Canyon. The problem was solved.
Things slowed down at The Fort Douglas Club during the Depression-ridden 1930s. In the early 1940s, a few women members were accepted. By the end of the decade, women and their guests had become an integral part of the club's activities.
The original golf course (the remnants of which are now the University of Utah), was the site of the Western Open in 1947, which attracted golf great Ben Hogan.
In 1957, the club acquired the Hidden Valley property in Draper, and the new golf course was opened for play on May 1, 1959. The members’ objection to driving 12-15 miles to play golf soon disappeared as the course became recognized as one of the most outstanding in the state. Since that time, the club was operated as Utah's only dual-facility country club.
Unfortunately, demographics change. The economic reality of operating two facilities dictated a sale of the original Fort Douglas Club to the James L. White Jewish Community Center in 1997.
The people who had worked at the east bench facility fondly remember many great events, including the performances of such top-notch musicians as Chubby Checker and the Kingston Trio.
The Fort Douglas Club lived through occasional low periods, such as a brief "prohibition era" in the 30’s. In the late 1930’s there was an employee walk-out just before a major function started. In the confusion that followed, an underage employee had an alcoholic drink which resulted in the club's liquor license being suspended for 90 days.
Pat Hanks, a former manager of the dining room, who first came to work in the 1960s, thought of the club “as an exceptional, classy institution. Maybe not like the Statue of Liberty, because it caters to a different class of people, but to me it's a landmark." She was proud of the traditions continued by third and fourth generations of members.
"Thursday night bingo" in the 40’s and 50’s was a favorite weekly event of the members. It was very common to have 8-10 couples around the fireplace during the golf season in the evenings.
Fast forward to 1999, Hidden Valley Country Club membership voted to construct a new clubhouse in Sandy that members currently enjoy today. The construction of the 44,000-square foot facility began in the spring of 2000 and was completed in the summer. Today, Hidden Valley members enjoy a modern clubhouse, a 27-hole golf course, Golf Shop and practice facilities. The Club allows a maximum of 446 Equity members. Hidden Valley was selected as the #1 rated golf course in Utah for 2001-2002 and consistently places in the top 10 year after year.
In the summer of 2016 HVCC welcomed the addition of a Cabana and Pool to complement the 27-hole course to truly make it a family friendly Country Club that we enjoy today.