THE HISTORY BEHIND BRENTWOOD GOLF COURSE
As the city of Jacksonville grew following the Civil War, new towns and neighborhoods developed around the Downtown area such as LaVilla, Oakland, East Jacksonville, Fairfield, Springfield, Riverside, and Brooklyn.
By 1900, Jacksonville was the largest city in Florida in terms of population, which had reached 28,430. The signature event in the history of Downtown Jacksonville that defined the architectural character of the city during the first half of the twentieth century was the “Great Fire of 1901”.
Starting in the LaVilla area west of Downtown at noon on May 3, 1901, the fire destroyed (within an eight-hour period) over 2,300 buildings located on 148 city blocks causing an estimated $15 million in property damage. Although only seven people lost their lives as a result of the fire, 8,677 people were left homeless. Destroying the oldest and most densely populated area of the city, the fire consumed twenty-three churches, ten hotels, including the grand St James and Windsor, as well as almost all public buildings such as the courthouse and city hall. The destruction caused by the 1901 fire ushered in a new era of growth in Downtown Jacksonville referred to as the Jacksonville Renaissance (1901 – 1920). It was during this period of significant economic and population growth that the residential character of the Metro North began to develop and grow.
The large open tract between Moncrief Creek to the north and Golfair Boulevard to the south and east to Springfield Boulevard, which once included the “Sands Hills Hospital” and later the site of the Gateway Mall, was partially utilized as fairgrounds, racetrack, and prison farm before being converted to other uses.
The old Brentwood Golf course, which was the namesake for Golfair Boulevard, was carved from a major portion of this tract, which was divided into two sections by the construction of Interstate 95. Originally opened by the City of Jacksonville in 1923, and designed by the famed Scottish golf architect, Donald Ross.
Shortly after World War II the Jacksonville Open began play as a PGA Tour event in Jacksonville. Brentwood Golf Course hosted the 1945 & 1946 Jacksonville Open, both won by Sam Snead. The Jacksonville Open was discontinued in the mid-1950s but returned by the mid-1960s. This time the event was initially named the Jacksonville Open again but changed for the 1968 event to the Jacksonville Open Invitational. The name was changed again to the Greater Jacksonville Open for the 1969 event. The Greater Jacksonville Open was discontinued after the 1976 tournament when the PGA Tour decided to relocate The Players Championship to Ponte Vedra Beach.
The eighteen-hole Brentwood Course was sold to private interest in the 1960’s to avoid integrating the public facility. Closed by the late 1970’s, the property was sold to the Duval County School Board for the construction of the A. Philip Randolph Academy of Technology. The remaining property reopened in 2000 as a nine-hole course with driving range under the direction of the First Tee of Jacksonville. In 2013, The First Tee of Jacksonville and The First Tee of St. Augustine merged to become The First Tee of North Florida. Brentwood Golf Course is owned by the City of Jacksonville and operated by Indigo Sports. Brentwood is the best 9 nine hole golf course in Jacksonville.
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