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Lochmoor serves up 100 years of golf and friendships

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 19, 2017

 In 1989, comedian Bob Hope, far right, played a round of golf at the Lochmoor Club. The club opened in 1917, and members will celebrate with a Centennial Gala Sept. 30 in Grosse Pointe Woods.

In 1989, comedian Bob Hope, far right, played a round of golf at the Lochmoor Club. The club opened in 1917, and members will celebrate with a Centennial Gala Sept. 30 in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo provided by the Lochmoor Club

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — When Tom Carnaghi joined the Lochmoor Club 14 years ago, he knew it was the place to be based on how quickly he felt welcome.

“You walk in and you know everybody,” he said. “People here care about each other. They like to have fun.”

Just last week, Carnaghi was named the club president. He is among several club members working behind the scenes to put on the club’s Centennial Gala Sept. 30. The festivities, which will be held in the clubhouse and are open to club members and their guests, will celebrate the club’s 100 years in existence. During the evening, local jazz crooner Ben Sharkey will get partygoers on their feet, and they will dine on meals that club chef Duane Walkowski will oversee.

Nestled on 128 acres of land at 1018 Sunningdale Drive — near the Mack Avenue and Vernier Road intersection — the Lochmoor Club has been a community staple for golf enthusiasts and their families.

It all began on Feb. 23, 1917, when a group of local businessmen gathered to unwind with a game of golf that, in the process, established a brand-new golf course in what was then Lochmoor Village.

According to the club’s history, Lochmoor purchased a farmhouse from Charles Metcalf in 1917 and relocated it a half-mile inland to be the clubhouse. The original building was decorated by the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, which included Mary Chase Perry (later Stratton), founder of Pewabic Pottery. The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts is now the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

The golf course — designed by Lochmoor’s own John S. Sweeney, with Walter J. Travis Consulting — officially opened on June 29, 1918. Some of the club’s early members included Detroit automotive executives Edsel Ford and John and Horace Dodge. Lochmoor also attracted A.H. Buhl, Wylie Carhartt, Daniel J. Campau, and Albert and Lawrence Fisher.

By the 1920s, the club’s social scene featured weekly dances with live bands. Over the last 100 years, Lochmoor has built itself into a family-oriented club that provides golf, practice facilities, tennis, swimming, a fitness center, yoga, casual and elegant dining rooms, and the Lochmoor Pub.

Lochmoor became so well-known that in 1959, bandleader Sammy Kaye made an appearance on the grounds, and 30 years later comedian Bob Hope stopped by for a round of golf. The current clubhouse was built in 1969. The first swimming pool, constructed in 1954, has undergone many improvements, most recently with the addition of a pool bar.

Staying the course
Presently, the club consists of about 691 active members and annual tennis associates, according to a Lochmoor Club press release. The average member age is 55, and families average 2.5 children per membership. Tom Hauff is the general manager, and the membership director is Anita Marini.

On-site are pro golfer John Pershern, tennis pro Robert Chonoles, tennis teaching pro Amy Frazier and swim team coach Kevin Hafner. Club members also remember late golf pro Tommy Valentine.

The golf course offers nine- and 18-hole golf, men’s and women’s leagues, tournaments, junior golf and more. Many local organizations have relied on Lochmoor to hold benefits and fundraisers. Wedding showers, weddings, parties, communions, anniversaries and other events are part of the club’s history.

Camille Cracchiolo and her husband, Pete, have been club members for 25 years. The Cracchiolos — who have been planning the Sept. 30 gala with Kathy and Tom Jerger, and Anthony and Vicky Kallabat — have found several memorabilia pieces that will be displayed during the gala. The artifacts include a guest registration book that dates back to 1924, historical photos, bag tags, golf balls, a 1931 golf program, an ashtray from Lochmoor’s Invitational held in 1958, directories and more.

“This is a special occasion,” Cracchiolo said. “It’s the party of the century.”

Cracchiolo said about 80 percent of the members are from the Grosse Pointes, with the remaining membership hailing from various communities in Macomb and Wayne counties. While golf is at the forefront of the Lochmoor Club, it’s also about building relationships and friendships among its members.

“Lochmoor has been such a big part of our lives,” member Jean Doyle said in a prepared statement. Her husband, Jim, first visited with his father in 1943 and became a member in the early 1950s. “We met here, and we’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of our married life here. The employees have been wonderful; they’re like family. Friendships keep us coming back.”

“The camaraderie is special,” Carnaghi said. “We have a great course and nice facilities.”

“It’s fun to come out with the family. All my kids golfed here. They all played tennis here,” said Cracchiolo, who admitted that golfing can be a challenge. “The more you play, the better you get.”

Last year, Carnaghi accomplished a dream of every golfer: a hole-in-one.

“At that point, it’s perfect. It was pretty cool,” he said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Lochmoor has faced many challenges. One setback came in 1924, when a fire destroyed the original clubhouse. Within six months, a new clubhouse was built. Another challenge came a few winters ago: When the Detroit area experienced the polar vortex, it destroyed about 80 percent of Lochmoor’s greens. Carnaghi said the golf course, however, remained open and players teed off with temporary greens as the course was reseeded.

Club members can read about the club’s history in the book “The Story of Lochmoor Club: A Centennial History, 1917-2017,” which museum exhibit developer, historical researcher and writer Mary Seelhorst wrote. The book is set to be published sometime after the Sept. 30 celebration. Seelhorst began conducting interviews and research for the book in January.

“Lochmoor is an important part of the history of the Grosse Pointe area and Detroit. There have been three clubhouses over the years,” she said. “They have persisted through many economic downturns. It’s a testament to the way they managed for 100 years.”

Seelhorst said the relationships among the members really stand out.

“The membership is what makes up the club and the approach they take to manage the club,” Seelhorst, of Ypsilanti, said. “The people are the focus. They make friends here and have some of the best relationships.”

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