thThe Brunswick Golf Club’s origins date back to the summer of 1898. Bowdoin College students J.H. Henry and Benjamin L. Furbish acquired golf clubs and attire and headed down what was then known as the Freeport Road in Brunswick in search of a field in which to play. Henry and Furbish were joined by college professor Harry C. Emery who had recently developed an interest in the game. They were the first three to play golf on the grounds we now know as Brunswick Golf Club’s back nine.
Founded in September of 1898 and initially named the Bowdoin Golf Club, the first organized group was comprised of 20 members including original course designers and future club presidents Charles L. Bowker, Capt. George Skofield and Col. George L. Thompson. Membership and interest in the game grew rapidly in the Brunswick area, leading to changing the name to the Brunswick Golf Club in 1901. Two years later the first clubhouse was built on the hill behind what is now the 17th green. It was written that views from the original clubhouse included the White Mountains due west and beautiful sunrises over Casco Bay looking east.
The original nine was redesigned by highly regarded course designer Wayne Stiles and his apprentice John Van Kleek in 1921. Though he has been overshadowed by prominent 20th century golf course designers such as Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast, the work of Stiles is widely thought to be some of the best in the world, and his original vision still shines on the back nine at Brunswick.
The annual Patriots Day Tournament was known for almost a century as the start of the golf season for Maine. The tournament is still played to this day, now called the Pop Erswell Tournament, named after longtime club manager and “Father of Maine Golf” Charles S. “Pop” Erswell. Erswell, who ran the club from 1920-1946, formed a golf group in 1903 that would later become the Maine State Golf Association, and founded the Maine Senior Golf Association in 1933. He is also credited by various sources as being the inventor and first to use a golf pull cart in America, though he never patented his idea.
In 1959, a young Brunswick-native by the name of Mal Strange took over as club professional at Brunswick, a position he would hold for over 37 years. During that time he teamed up with world-famous golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish to design and construct an additional nine holes. The new layout was finished in 1969 and became Brunswick’s front 9. The modern era of Brunswick Golf Club and it’s 18 holes are notably distinguished by the back-to-back par 5’s followed by back-to-back par 3’s, as well as the utterly challenging par-4 6th hole. A recent visitor of Brunswick Golf Club would most certainly mention the picturesque approach over water on the par-5 9th hole.
Brunswick Golf Club over the years has become one of the state’s premier championship venues. Home of the Bowdoin College Polar Bears and host to the annual Bowdoin Invitational, BGC also has hosted the MSGA’s B&C Championship, Match Play Invitational, Fourball Championship, both the Men’s & Women’s Senior Amateur Championships (including the Women’s in 2020!), the Maine Junior Championship in 2018, the Maine Women’s Amateur in 2013, and the 98th Maine Amateur Championship in 2017.
Brunswick Golf Club…celebrating over 120 years as the HUB of Maine Golf.