100 YEARS of history
In 1918, John Kelsey, founder of the Kelsey Wheel Co. and a summer resident of Grosse Ile who loved golf, and a group of associates conceived the idea of building a fine 18-hole golf course on the island. After a careful survey, the group acquired 290 acres in the center of the island and in 1919 the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club was incorporated with the following charter directors: C. S. (Cap) Vaughn, Yellot Hardcastle, Thomas Stevens, Charles Hastings, T. Y. Leonard, Earl Roberts and Thomas Winter.
Donald Ross, internationally known golf course architect, was engaged to design and construct the course working with the $350,000 advanced by Mr. Kelsey, and with William Connellan as general superintendent.
The construction took two years, as 12,000 yards of cinders had to be mixed with 4,000 yards of sand and 4,000 yards of loam and then spread across the land so grass could be grown. The new course was unique in that it was the only all-watered course (fairways and greens) in the district and possibly the state during the 1920's. Grosse Ile was the third course in the United States to have watered fairways.
When the first nine holes of the new course were opened in 1920, the new Grosse Ile Golf Course merged with the established Grosse Ile Country Club to form the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club that still exists today. Charles Christian was charter president and the membership fee was set at $350.
Mr. Kelsey held a land contract for the construction money owed to him and he also acquired the original nine-hole course for a reported $150,000, with that property continuing to operate as a golf course through the late 1930's. With the opening of Grosse Ile's second nine-hole segment in 1921, the Club members marked the occasion by giving The Casino its final horse-drawn ride on log rollers to its new location - the site of the present clubhouse at Grosse Ile Parkway and Meridian. Porches, dining room, locker room and grill were added and a huge stone fireplace became the focal point for family gatherings and social events.
In 1923, the Club's coat of arms was adopted with the design based on the original deed, which transferred the title of Grosse Ile from 18 Indian chiefs to the Macomb brothers on July 6, 1776. The elm tree represents the original tree under which the treaty was signed. The totem marks are symbolic of the variety of Indian tribes that inhabited the island. The initials J. K. in the lower left represent a tribute to John Kelsey whose vision, personal effort, and financial support played the major role in establishing the present golf and country club. The golf ball at the top, inscribed with "GI Golf and Country Club", is flanked by winterberries, a native plant of the island.