In May 1899 a group from Cranford organized a 9-hole golf club at Lincoln Ave./South Union Ave. in Cranford (this is the forerunner to Echo Lake C.C.) Willie Dunn, designer of Shinnecock Hills, designed the course. Three young men from that club went on to fame --- Max Marston won the National Amateur Golf Association Championship, Eddie Wild won the golf club championship seven times, and Dean Mathey won the National Clay Court Tennis Doubles Championship twice.
This club, after 13 years of operation, bought the Harper Farm on Springfield Ave., Westfield, engaged Donald Ross (the most famous golf course designer of the time) to design the course and had a clubhouse built where it is today on a high bluff overlooking the lake. The course was completed in 1913 (6247 yards. Par 72.) A group of members teed up at the Lincoln Ave. site and played three miles through farms and town to the 18th green of ELCC.
In 1919 golf architect Bob White was engaged to design a longer and better back nine. Six new holes – the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th were constructed.
Westfield Golf Club
In September 1900 a group of Westfielders organized a golf club at Jerusalem Road, Scotch Plains. The farmhouse on the property was converted to a clubhouse and the members themselves designed a nine-hole course. In 1910, the club lengthened the course to 3312 yards, which was called “the best 9 hole course in the eastern states”.
But, by the end of WWI, the membership had slipped off and the club decided to merge with the Cranford Golf Club at Echo Lake to achieve a full membership and to have 18-holes.
Echo Lake Country Club
The Cranford Golf Club and the Westfield Golf Club merged on April 5, 1921 and became the Echo Lake Country Club, reflecting the site and the fact that it was to be a country club with broad activities, not just a club for golf. Bob Crane, the grandfather of current members Clint and Pete Crane, was elected as the first president of Echo Lake Country Club.
In 1922-23 the club made two major property transactions --- one a buy and one a sale of about 32 acres each. The club bought 32 acres in the area of the current 6th, 7th and 9th holes and practice range. The club also sold 32 acres, from the stream and lake in Echo Lake to the current boundary of the property, to the Union County Park Commission for cash and the right to take water from the lake for the golf course.
In 1928 three new holes were designed by Willard Wilkinson: the 6th, 7th and 9th --- and the present practice range was opened. The course has been played for 75 years as it was after those three holes were completed. In summary, the present course is Donald Ross (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 17 and 18), Wilkinson (6, 7 and 9) and Bob White 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16).
In 1929-34 President Win Brower planted over 600 seedlings, which are now 70 years old.
In 1930 the Echo Lake News was initially published.
In 1934 the club obtained a license to serve alcoholic beverages.
In 1941 the present pool and pool house were opened.
In 1950 the Pro Shop was built at the end of the practice green and the space vacated in the clubhouse was used for the down bar and grill
In 1953 the Clubhouse porch was enclosed and became the present Terrace Room and Bar.
In 1964 a no-tipping rule was instituted.
In 1965 the Kyle House rest stop and refreshment area was built, with a gift from member Jim Kyle.
In 1970 a golf cart barn was built.
In 1970 two platform tennis courts were built. Two others were added later
In 1972 the Bar and Terrace Room were expanded toward the green by 5-6 feet and floor to ceiling windows were installed overlooking the golf course.
In 1987 8000 square feet of greens and bunkers were added to the practice range.
In 1988-91 a multi-phase plan was accomplished --- golf course watering system up graded, first floor clubhouse modernization, new furniture and fixtures and patio resurfacing.
In 1992 the practice range was brought up to be “one of the finest in the area”.
In 1993 the Ladies Locker Room was remodeled.
In 1994-97 the caddie area was modernized, the pro shop was expanded, the mechanical/storage room was restored, the pool house was revitalized, the men’s locker room was overhauled and expanded and a shelter/bathroom was built between 13 & 14.
Over the last 20-30 years, the golf course has been substantially improved --- new blue and women’s tees, improved bunkers, leveling and squaring of tees, 14th lake extended and stone wall added, added traps on the 2nd, recouping of lost green areas, removal of unneeded trees, addition of strategic estate trees and lengthening of the course to 6913 yards.
Echo Lake has hosted eleven important national and state championships over its 104 years. Many golf stars and future stars have played the layout. At the USGA Boys Junior in 1994, it was dubbed by Golf World as a “hidden gem”.