The foundation of our future 

is built upon a glorious past

Over a century ago, Robert Noble Burgess founded a country club at the foot of Mt. Diablo. Motoring and golf were new sports for Americans, and the mountain Burgess owned, Mt. Diablo, was the perfect backdrop.

In 1912, this charismatic entrepreneur purchased Oakwood Park Stock Farm, which was previously owned by the Big Four (Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington & Mark Hopkins), and transformed it into a swank summer resort, attracting San Francisco’s finest. On May 14, 1916, four special trains dubbed the “Millionaire Special” brought prospective buyers to what is now Diablo Country Club. Local newspapers reported that more than 600 prospects came by train that day!


Robert Burgess certainly had an eye for talent. He found the future architects of Pebble Beach and Olympic Club to build a world-class golf course on a property that included orchards, community gardens, a chalet, the Red Horse Tavern, a dairy, stock farm and a post office.

Elements of the ranch are the signature elements of today’s Diablo. The carriage Lounge (circa 1881) is the heart of the clubhouse. A Grand Barn (circa 1885) became the Red Horse Tavern. Trees that lined the turn of the century racetrack 130 years ago provide framing for the 16th hole, and an 1881 cupola tops the Neville Snack Shack at the center of this parkland golf course.

1914—John and Joann Smith move from Carnoustie, Scotland, to manage what was then called Mt. Diablo Park Club. All five of their sons played professional golf, and four of five played in the US Open. Willie Smith won the tournament in 1899 and Alex won in both 1906 and 1910 —beating out Macdonald, the youngest brother, who set the course record at Diablo with a score of 65.

The original property was known in 1874 as the Railroad Ranch, reflecting the Southern Pacific/Central Pacific ownership group of the Big Four. David Douty Colton eventually purchased the ranch from his partners and began breeding and racing world-class pacers and trotters on the magnificent parcel of land.

Nine holes were completed in 1915, but the second nine were delayed to support the ongoing war effort. Neville’s design for Nos. 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 16, 17 and 18 play very similar to this day, a lasting tribute to his early genius. Neville was awarded a charter membership for his lasting contributions to the club. The Jack Neville Snack Shack is visible from 16 of the 18 holes, and welcomes players after Nos. 4, 9 and 15.

1957—San Franciscan Ken Venturi tied Macdonald Smith’s course record of 65 in his first professional win. The PGA named him Rookie of the Year, and he earned over $19,000 in prize money.




... by a member

The Ideal


"There was a time when Ocean, Grove and Stream were clothed in a celestial light — the glory and the freshness of a dream."

A winding road through a parched countryside leads to a rare oasis called Diablo. The old oaks greet you on your arrival like hosts of some forgot­ten time. The sheer beauty of the Rowers and the pungent fragrance of their perfume cause you to feel you are in some far-off Arcady. Unmo­lested quail scurry unafraid in your path. A green mantle is spread over all — while the white gold — that water which makes the oasis-soothes your spirit in the heat of the day. Above this oasis there nestles a Jewel Lake unseen and unsuspected until you have climbed a trail which rewards your effort. At night, even without moon or stars, shines that Great Beacon on Mt. Diablo, guiding those birds of the air and sending to you a sense of security and benediction. The morning cry of the birds awakens you to a world of life-and the songs you hear make you want to grasp that happi­ness which seems so near. If you do not hear, sense or see these things you are dull-or else your vision is only of stone walls and city streets. This Diablo needs and has more than nature's loveliness. A jungle is no fit place for human kind — neither is Diablo a paradise without the laughter of chil­dren and the kindly associations of those older ones which have been built up through the years. And because those who are young and old can be there at the same time and enjoy together some of the same things — this Diablo is a Mecca — so near and yet so very far from a workaday world.

August Eleventh, Nineteen Thirty-one.

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