The minutes of that first meeting in 1913 show many prominent citizens elected to the first board of directors, including P. J. Clay and Fred R. Sherman, co-owners of Sherman/Clay company, and Col. W. S. Rheem, president of Standard Oil. Dennis Searles whose business empire was built on his father’s discovery of Borax in the Upper Mojave Desert, was elected as the first president. These men guided the destiny of the early days at Sequoyah, and it was largely through their efforts that, today, members can boast of one of the most beautiful and testing private golf clubs in Northern California.
The original clubhouse was completed in 1915. Small changes were made to the clubhouse between 1915-1927. A 1928 remodel was the cornerstone of our present facility. The original men’s bar was known as the S. P. Depot, as most members would take the Southern Pacific train to Dutton Avenue and were then met by a bus to take them to Sequoyah. At the time, women were not allowed inside the gates to the club. Several years later the men consented to allow women to drive through the gate to pick someone up or drop them off, but they were not permitted to leave their cars.
In the 20’s and 30’s, additional rooms were added to the clubhouse and women were finally allowed in. The 30’s have been described as the heyday of society at Sequoyah. Elegance was the theme of the day. The last Sunday of each month was particularly special. A peek into the ladies locker room on Sunday afternoon would reveal a beautiful gown hanging on each locker, for that evening there was always a formal dinner dance. Tuxedos were the required dress for men. After dinner, there was dancing to a full orchestra, and festivities often went on until the wee hours of the morning.
In the late 1930’s, nearby Oak Knoll golf course folded and many members transferred to Sequoyah. The membership before the war was around 400. Women’s golf had already become major part of the club’s activity. There was no initiation fee and monthly dues ran between $10 and $18. The Oakland Open, one of the premier tournaments on the Pacific coast, was held at Sequoyah from 1938 to 1944, and featured prominently in the early professional careers of golfers Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret and others.
World War II changed the lives of most people in one way or another, and Sequoyah was no exception. The membership dropped to 90. With a mortgage of $129,000, it appeared there was little hope for financial survival. During these lean times, the help was reduced to one married couple who took over the duties of the club. They served as cook, bartender, dishwasher, housekeeper and night watchman in return for their living quarters and $175 per month. For an unknown period, one member paid the monthly bills out of his own pocket. Several slot machines were installed which brought in additional revenue. The war ended, families were reunited, the world was at peace and Sequoyah survived.