History


Mr. Marvin Leonard



Click on thumbnails for larger view.
 
 Mr. Hogan, left, goes over the plans with Robert Trent Jones,
 
 
 
Shady Oaks Country Club’s founder is Mr. Marvin Leonard. Mr. Leonard was one of Fort Worth’s best known businessmen, known as the Texas Merchant.  With the advice from his doctor to get out of the office and enjoy the outdoors and fresh air Mr. Leonard took up the game of golf. During his rounds of golf at Glen Garden Country Club, Mr. Leonard crossed paths with a young caddy named Ben Hogan. This began a lifetime friendship for both. His love for the game of Golf, particularly building golf courses, occupied much of his time. In 1934 he purchased 157 acres on the southwest side of Fort Worth and began to build a golf course. The Colonial Golf Club officially opened on January 29, 1936. After redesigning the course, Leonard persuaded the United States Golf Association to hold the 1941 United States Open at Colonial. From this tournament grew the Colonial National Invitational, with which Leonard was long associated. In December 1942 he sold Colonial to its members. With the success of Colonial, Mr. Leonard became restless to build a new country club; his goal was to build one of the finest courses in the world. He knew exactly what he had in mind for his new club and in 1955; he found 1,220 acres of farm land in the Westover Hills residential area, just seven miles from downtown Fort Worth.
 
Before papers were signed, Mr. Leonard had Mr. Hogan walk the course with him and listen to his plans. Mr. Hogan begged Mr. Leonard not to go on. He thought the site was much too hilly and rugged to make a playable and interesting course.
 
Mr. Leonard did not agree and signed the papers regardless. He called in architect Robert Trent Jones and clubhouse architects Hedrick & Stanley, and then commandeered half the bulldozers in West Texas and set them to work on one of the greatest earth-moving and leveling-off projects any golf course has ever known.
 
Not only did he know what he wanted, he refused to rest until he had it just as he pictured. Some holes were laid out two and three times before they declared it right. On the third hole, for instance, the final green was shifted 175 yards from its place on the original design before Mr. Leonard was satisfied.
 
The cost of perfection ran high – probably two or three times that of an average course at that time – but the results more than justified the pains that were taken and the extra investment required. Shady Oaks today is one of the most lavish and magnificent membership courses in the country. With back tees added in, it could easily be converted into a first-class tournament course, as well. 
 
Mr. Leonard wanted to build the ideal club where the member would be king; this he achieved and more. So meticulous was he in meeting the standards he wanted that he ran the Club for a full year at his own expense before inviting a single member to join. The membership now consists of the cream of Fort Worth golfers; most of who belong to at least one of the city’s other golf clubs. The Club has also become one of Fort Worth’s favorite dining and entertaining venues. 

“Anyone who is building a golf course anywhere in the world and doesn't come down to see what has been done at Shady Oaks will be making a big mistake,” said Mr. Hogan.

 
                              
  Ben Hogan Biography