The club has survived Prohibition, the Depression and World War II—not to mention a pandemic at age 99. To plan how to celebrate its 100th birthday throughout 2021, Cape Girardeau CC formed a committee of long-time as well as younger members, to help generate excitement and bring different perspectives to the festivities. The year-long exposure has led to increased community engagement and new membership interest, says the club’s Brian Noto.
Suburbanization, industrialization, and rising incomes in the Roaring Twenties brought an influx of private recreational facilities to the American landscape. A century later, many of those properties have continued to thrive, adapting to the ever-changing times well enough to be able to celebrate 100 years of prosperity.
Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Country Club, founded April 3, 1921 on the banks of the Mississippi River, is among the many clubs marking centennial anniversaries this year. The property, which has survived Prohibition, the Depression and World War II—not to mention a pandemic at age 99—certainly has cause for celebration.
“This has been a great place for 100 years for people to play golf, conduct business, meet people and bring their families,” says Food and Beverage Director Brian Noto.
To plan how to celebrate its 100th birthday throughout 2021, Cape Girardeau CC formed a committee of long-time as well as younger members, to help get the membership excited and bring different perspectives to the festivities.“The members needed to be engaged and involved, to generate interest and make sure the events are what they’re looking for,” says Noto. “We’ve had so many good things to highlight.”
Cape Girardeau kicked off its celebration with a Centennial Gala on March 27, when more than 100 members and guests attended a black tie-optional dinner and dance. The event also featured a live band, a three-tiered birthday cake topped with sparklers, and a champagne toast.
“We didn’t have a theme, but we wanted to make sure we touched on the past 100 years and the history of the club,” says Noto. “It was not a retro event, but we touched on the different decades.”
Gala attendees received a keepsake glass Christmas ornament featuring the club’s new Centennial logo, which is now also being made available in the pro shop.
A week later, the property’s Centennial Tee Shot garnered local news coverage. In this Masters Tournament-like ceremony, a member from four of the property’s founding families recreated the first tee shot at the golf course that had taken place exactly 100 years earlier.
Also in April, the property held a whiskey tasting for 24 people, when participants were able to buy shares at $150 each for three bottles of Cape Girardeau Country Club Centennial Bourbon, a single-barrel, special select whiskey blend by Knob Creek that was scheduled for delivery in August.
Summer arrived with a Centennial swimming celebration in June that featured a band and a barbecue buffet at the pool for about 80 couples. The festivities continued in that month with a Centennial Member Guest Tournament in which golfers played 27 holes the first day and 18 holes the second day, and the top scorers then participated in a hole-by-hole “horse race” to determine the overall champion.
The club’s July 4 Centennial Celebration included golf and a dinner buffet, and while not tied to the Centennial, a pickleball tournament was scheduled for August.
Cape Girardeau’s closing Centennial event will take place on September 25th on a large veranda that overlooks the golf course and the Mississippi River.
Spreading the events throughout the year has been a key to their success, Noto believes. “It kept us visible in the community,” he says. “It kept up the interest in the club. [And] it paid off for us in increased memberships.”
Despite COVID, in fact, Cape Girardeau has added about 200 new members in the last 18 months, to double its membership.
“People have been talking a lot about us. The Centennial has really engaged the community,” says Noto. “People are coming out to see the club.”
With several updates and improvements to the property, Cape Girardeau has offered prospective members much to see. The club’s pool, which was built in 1931, was converted to saltwater last year, and infrequently used tennis courts were remade into pickleball courts. In addition, the bunkers on the golf course were renovated last year.
“The Centennial has allowed us to promote what we’ve done and who we are,” Noto says.
Cape Girardeau also commissioned a commemorative, hardback coffee-table book (see cover above) for release at the end of August. “It really documents the history of this piece of property, starting with the land in the 1700s, and of the club facilities, but it’s mostly a story about the people and is really a celebration of the members,” says Noto.
All of the club’s Centennial events have been free to members or funded by ticket sales. “The members are the most important asset, not only to the club, but in getting things like this done,” Noto says. “[The centennial year] has been successful because of the interest of the members.”