1 The founder of Seminole Golf Club was New York financier E.F. (for Edward Francis) Hutton. Like many tycoons of the Gilded Age, he had taken to wintering in Palm Beach, Fla., and in 1927 built with his second wife, General Foods heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, the stunning estate that came to be called Mar-a-Lago. Yes, that Mar-a-Lago: the Florida home of President Donald J. Trump.
2According to The Story of Seminole, the club history that James Dodson penned in 2007, dinners at Mar-a-Lago were served on a dining room table made of marble and gold and capable of seating 36 people. It is said to have cost $1 million to make.
3 The Seminole golf course officially opened for play on New Year’s Day 1930, with 13-year-old Gracie Amory striking the first tee shot. Her father, Charles Minot Amory, was a founding member, and she, too, became a fixture at the club as well as a member in her own right, winning nine women’s championships and marrying Allan Ryan Jr., who in 1971 became the club’s eighth president.
4 Claude Harmon had been head golf professional at Seminole for only a few years when he captured the 1948 Masters. He started at the club as its winter pro in 1945 and performed those duties until 1957 (as he also held the same position in the summer at Winged Foot outside New York City). His quarters during his Seminole years was a cottage on the grounds near the club entrance, and he lived there with his wife, Alice, and their four sons, Butch, Craig, Dick and Billy.
5 As is the case with Augusta National Golf Club, Seminole is a seasonal club. Typically, it opens the last Saturday in October and shuts down on Mother’s Day.
6With regards to club hours, Seminole has a hard close at 6 p.m. And there are said to be a couple of reasons for that. One has to do with Marjorie Post and other wives of early members wanting their husbands back home in Palm Beach (some 15 miles to the south) with enough time to shower and dress for the cocktail and dinner parties that were so much a part of life among a certain social set. The other was because many of the men and women employed at Seminole also worked those very same gatherings as bartenders and waitresses, and they needed to be ready for those jobs as well.
7How seriously did members adhere to that rule? Late one winter afternoon, with the sun setting and light getting low, South African business mogul Johan Rupert and his friend Ernie Els found themselves on the 15th hole. Glancing at his watch, Rupert realized there was no way they could finish in time. So, they jumped in their golf cart, just as one of the club professionals was arriving on the scene in his. “I know, I know,” Rupert said, waving his hand. “We’re coming in.”
8 The locker room is almost as famous as the golf course at Seminole, with big game trophies bagged by one of the club’s early members hanging on the walls along with tournament boards emblazoned with the names of the golfers who captured its biggest events. They include some of the most recognizable names in golf. One of those, of course, is Ben Hogan's. For many years, he stored his gear in locker No. 50, quite close to the bar. And the man who tended that space was sure to hand a martini to the Hawk as soon as he sat down to change his shoes once his golf was done for the day.
9 Right outside that locker room is the Seminole swimming pool, and what is perhaps most notable about that inviting facility is how little it has been used through the years. In fact, longtime members say they have never seen a person swim in it, and the sense is that it would be a serious breach of protocol if someone did. In fact, the new-member orientation has included for many years a stop at the pool – and the suggestion that it is just to look at.
10Even the parking lot at Seminole is elegant, thanks in no small part to the person who has overseen that operation, a former caddie named Ray Graham. In addition to washing member’s vehicles when they are out on the course, he arranges the most stylish ones at perfect angles on either side of the entrance to the pink-stucco, Spanish-style clubhouse.