Henry E, Whittenburg became the founding father of the McAllen Country Club. He had moved his family, consisting of his wife and three young children, to McAllen in 1927 to go into citrus and tomato shipping. Having played football for the University of Missouri he was an avid sports enthusiast. In McAllen, he had transferred the same enthusiasm into playing golf in his spare time.
In the late 1920's McAllen was fortunate to have a new and excellent, 9 hole public golf course, personally designed by the golf course architect Jay Nivera. These are the same beautiful 9 holes used today as the "back nine" that slope from the clubhouse area to 10th street. The developers named their complex the Tippawahee (sp) Golf Club, persumably after an Indian tribe. It also consisted of a clubhouse, tennis courts, and a golf shop with a popular putting green. The golfers gathered there for practice plus refreshments.
Unfortunately, the original club (Tippawahee) failed financially during the 1930 depression, and my father was able to buy it at a sheriff's auction in order to assure that the golf course was preserved. With foresight, he also purchased the undeveloped acres to the west of the golf course that bordered it and 2nd street. Here he had tomatoes planted every season to defray some of the expenses. Years later this land became the front nine holes of the current golf course, plus a residential section and Ben Hogan Drive.
My brother, Dr. Ross Whittenburg recalled the early details. Dad then hired a popular and excellent golf pro, who ran the golf course and the golf shop for many years. He also found and hired the first of several later managers for the clubhouse and then renamed it all as The McAllen Country Club.
The original clubhouse was a dark green shingled structure with a wraparound porch on two sides used for an extra dining room. There was an excellent kitchen and full locker rooms. The clubhouse was expanded several times. There were many parties held as was my 16th jitterbug birthday dance. The management also entertained the cadets and servicemen from Moore Field during WW2 with festivities.
Through those years, Dad and his friends followed a routine schedule. Whenever their time was not restricted by business appointments, they ardently adhered to meeting at the Country Club (along with their caddies) at one p.m. sharp. There on their local "battlefield" they would repeatedly challenge one another for 18 holes, twice around the existing 9 holes. Dad was good at his game, but our brother, Henry Whittenburg Jr. was an excellent golfer and the club champion for several years.
Eventually, with the population growth of McAllen and the end of WW2, some of dad's golf friends joined him for a discussion of possible development of the Club as a private endeavor. The city fathers rallied around the idea. As a result, our imposing McAllen Country Club stands today, enjoyed by its membership. It had a good start financially as dad let the mineral rights be included in his sale. It was just a short time until a huge gas field was discovered under the area and a gas well drilled with the large rig standing where the tomatoes had been planted and raised. This provided a dependable, nice size royalty check to the Club every month for many years and sustained its need to pay the bills.
Thus, the early history of the Club starting in 1930. Eighty three years later the traffic on 10th street still glance over as the golfers tee off and see the beauty of the fairways. How lucky we are to have it so in the hustle and bustle of 2013.
Margaret W. Colley