This story is brought to you by the Berkeley Country Club.
The Berkeley Country Club along Arlington Boulevard was founded at the start of the Roaring ‘20s during the Golden Age of Golf – the Jazz Age era of Prohibition and of “radical” new politics that gave women the right to vote. San Francisco had just hosted the notorious, booze-fueled 1920 Democratic National Convention.
It was in this cultural landscape that Indiana-by-way-of-New York transplant Robert Hunter – a UC Berkeley sociology professor, progressive author, friend of Jack London and Upton Sinclair, avid amateur golfer and visionary course designer – brought together a diverse crew of fellow academics and business leaders and hatched the idea for a Golden Age golf course in the East Bay Hills, rooted in the spirit of the great clubs of Scotland and Ireland.
“We are definitely not your typical country club, but more like a club you would find in the British Isles. No pretense; just great golf, good food and drink, and enjoyable company,” says long-time member and past President Richard Pettler.
A challenging course overlooking the Bay
The founding members envisioned an approachable yet challenging golf course, with a welcoming social scene and a commitment to the surrounding community. From the beginning, the Club would be closely associated with the University of California and its golf teams – a legacy that continues today – and a membership that has included a large number of Berkeley coaches, faculty and alumni
The Club brought in renowned Berkeley architect Walter Ratcliff Jr., who designed Hillside Elementary School, the Wells Fargo Bank in the Elmwood, and many local homes, to create the classic clubhouse. Legendary golf course architect William “Willie” Watson (Olympic Club in San Francisco, among many others) helped craft the course based largely on Hunter’s design. Together they transformed 160 acres of stunning natural terrain in the newly incorporated city of El Cerrito into a new Northern California golf and community destination.
Balanced atop the hills with stunning panoramic views, the Berkeley Country Club has provided an unparalleled golf experience and fostered a welcoming member community for more than a century. The par-72 course is beautifully routed and a perfect walk. The golf is challenging and never boring, with every hole designed to be thought-provoking and inspirational.
An award-winning renovation in 2011 restored vistas and incorporated water conservation and sustainability features to protect the natural landscape.
A history of diversity and inclusion
The Berkeley Country Club was one of the first private clubs to welcome members historically excluded from other clubs of the time, and it continues to be among the most ethnically and economically diverse in the Bay Area, actively encouraging minorities, women and the LGBTQ community to join. The Equity membership tier extends the Club’s amenities to both children and grandchildren of members to foster a love for the game among the next generation. The Tudor-style clubhouse and ballroom are a popular local venue for charitable events, weddings and fundraisers, and can be rented by non-members.
And the staff is very much reflective of the Club’s original ethos of excellence, access, and innovation, including experienced management, three golf pros, and acclaimed food and beverage and member services teams. The Club offers a variety of well-priced membership options, including full golfing and social privileges tailored to young adults and families.
“The golf course is breathtaking in so many ways,” says Pettler. “But ultimately it’s the diverse membership, talented staff and shared love of the game that makes this place unique.”
This story was written and paid for by the Berkeley Country Club.