Image: Advertisement for the Ironwood Swim and Gold Club. Courtesy of Carol McDill Theuriet.
In the middle of San Jose, we have an outcropping of hills historically known as the San Juan Bautista Hills. The hills are home to Oak Hill Memorial Park, the First Baptist Church (the “Church on the Hill”), Santa Clara County Communications (emergency service dispatch), and an area referred to as Communications Hill (has a large cell phone tower). These hills were also once the home to the American Dairy, a small Catholic cemetery, quicksilver mines, and a golf course.
Image: The club house on the second level. A path led to the swimming pool at the ground level, and another path led to the golf course visible above the club house. Courtesy of the Church on the Hill.
The golf course, named Ironwood Swim and Golf Club, was a nine-hole course on the hill where the First Baptist Church now stands. It was created about 1960 on former pasture land by Stanley McDill (with wife Carolyn, son "Scott", and daughter Carol), in conjunction with a new residential development at the foot of the hill. The streets in the new tract were named after golf courses, with names like Ironwood, Rinconada, and Pebble Beach. The golf course operated into 1965, then gave way to the construction of the First Baptist Church, who had purchased the property from McDill in 1963. The club house, several small structures, and the pool all remain. The primary and diving pools are shaped like a golf club and ball.
Image: Mid-1960s view of the golf course just prior being leveled for the construction of the First Baptist Church's "Church on the Hill." Notice the cart paths and lights for night play. You can see the Ironwood residential tract just beyond, and the back of the old Kell farmhouse at the mid-point on the far right (this area is now Willow Glen Plaza Shopping Center). The tall pole near the center of the image, was used by the church to create an electric Christmas tree in December of 1964. Courtesy of Burt Corsen.
The thirty-three acre course was lighted for night play, and open all year seven days a week, with the last tee-off at 9 pm. A neighboring resident who remembered the golf course, said that the lights were quite bright at night. According to Stan McDill’s daughter Carol, Stan really enjoyed cooking at the club house (“…made a great hamburger), and chatting at the food bar. She said that the club was very successful when it first opened, and might have remained so but for the hill being so cold and windy.
Image: A recent shot of the caddy shack on the first level, one of a number of remaining golf course buildings. Also remaining are the pool changing rooms (partially visible at center/right), the "Sugar Shack" at the entrance to the pool (to the right, out of frame), and the club house which has been remodeled.
Further Reading in the California Room:
- A Century of Service, edited by Dick Barrett
- San Jose City Directories
- San Jose phonebooks 1902 - present
- San Jose (and surrounding area) aerial photos 1931, 1948, 1960, 1968, 1981
- Clipping Files Communications Hill
- Looking Back: Willow Glen's Hilltop Christmas Tree
- Clipping Files Kell Cemetery