En-Joie Golf Club was established in 1927 and this year is celebrating its 90th anniversary. The golf course is steeped in tradition and it maintains a wonderful history since its early beginnings. Throughout its long existence En-Joie has remained the focal point of golf in the Southern Tier – and it will for many more decades to come. In the paragraphs that follow you will read more about our interesting past regarding this great golf course. En-Joie!!!
The Start of En-Joie…….
En-Joie Golf Club first opened in 1927 under the original design of Ernie Smith at the request of George F. Johnson. George F. was the benevolent owner of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company based right here in Endicott, NY. Mr. Johnson loved the game of golf and couldn’t see any reason why his employees shouldn’t love it as well – except for the fact that they didn’t have any time or a place to play. A problem that he resolved by building a golf course for them to enjoy. According to George F. ‘some foolish workers got it in their heads that golf was only for the rich…golf is just as good for hard working shoemakers as it is for the tired businessman…the poor can play golf just as cheaply as going to the movies, and its better for their health. Give men comfort to live and play then you can work them hard and they will be ready for more.’ Golf balls were also made by Endicott-Johnson and were used on the En-Joie fairways that were flat and virtually tree-less back then. In addition. no rough was grown so that no golf ball could be lost. A round of golf in 1927 originally cost .25¢, and a golf bag was only .75¢ – all affordable for the EJ worker, even in the 1920’s. While times have changed and prices have gone up over the past 90 years, this public golf course remains accessible to anyone who wishes to play here.
From 1971 to 2005 En-Joie GC hosted an annual PGA Tour stop that was loved and greatly supported by the Tour players. Originally in 1971 the event was called the Broome County Open, and the following year it switched to the B.C. Open; the name it is still referred to by most. The new name referred to the B.C. comic strip, created by Johnny Hart, who was born and raised right here in Endicott. Johnny Hart’s B.C. characters were used by the tournament in advertising, for merchandise logos, and as well as the champions trophy for the tournament winner. The logo and trophy was easily recognizable and adored by all.
Roughly 70 years after the original construction, in 1998 and 1999 the golf course layout was renovated by renowned golf course architect Michael Hurdzan. The originally flat and round greens were changed into very large and non-circular undulating greens that now challenge all levels of players. With narrow, and now tree-lined fairways, coupled with large and elevated greens the golf course is a true test for golfers of all skill levels. Professionals and amateur alike will find a challenging, yet fair round of golf each time they tee it up at En-Joie.
In 2006, the last year the B.C. Open was to be played at En-Joie, the Greater Binghamton area suffered the worst flooding from the Susquehanna River in the regions history. The damage throughout the area was monumental and the golf course became inundated with water, mud, and debris. Unfortunately the tournament was forced to be moved in its final year elsewhere. However, the recovery continued and shortly thereafter in 2007 En-Joie became the proud host of a new Champions Tour event. The Dick’s Sporting Goods Open was born, and En-Joie once again continues to test the skills of professional golfers, now it tests the games of those players age 50 and over.
The Recent Years…….
As stated above, since 2007 En-Joie has been the proud host of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on the PGA Tour of Champions circuit. This award-winning event continues this golf courses rich history of hosting professional golf events. The week long event, highlighted by superior golf and the always entertaining Friday night concert, is a player and fan favorite. These world-class players age 50+ are many of the golfers who began their careers decades ago while playing in the old B.C. Open.
In recent years the golf course has embarked on a tree removal program that was started to not only improve turf grass conditions in the rough, but to actually help insure the health of the tree population. Over-planting decades ago has forced the staff to remove nearly 300 trees over the past 10 years. Dead or at risk trees were removed to assist the health of neighboring trees that were in close proximity to more healthy ones. This allows the existing trees to become more healthy since they are not fighting for the same sun and water. But it has also improved sight-lines for golfers, greatly increased turf grass coverage, and has improved ‘playability‘ by allowing golfers the option to escape from the trees that still line the narrow fairways. The process was a careful one as the golf course staff wanted to maintain the ‘character’ of En-Joie, and most players don’t even notice the changes. Without a doubt the golf course maintains it’s level of difficulty and beauty despite removing all of these troubled trees over the past decade.
Over the past decade there has been a easily noticeable commitment to superior course conditions. The golf course is dedicated to providing the finest playing surfaces from tee-to-green all season long whether you’re a professional or the weekend amateur. The golf course is owned by the Village of Endicott (thanks to the Johnson family), while being operated by Broome County since 2006. En-Joie remains a huge economic factor within the region and helps improve the quality of life for its residents. The golf course host thousands of rounds annually from visitors from all over the country, Canada, and overseas. En-Joie always has been, and will continue to be, the hub for golf in the Southern Tier.