Establishing the Vision
In 1910, Adolphus Busch decided Saint Louis needed a social and dining club in south St. Louis County. He wanted a hilly, undeveloped, wooded site that would permit privacy and an opportunity to share in nature's beauty, and one that would serve Anheuser-Busch products exclusively.
Adolphus completed the acquisition of the initial 26 acres, upon which he constructed the Sunset Inn, which opened in November 1910. From 1910 to 1916, the Sunset Inn served its 1,800 members with some of the finest dining available in the area; accompanied by his Anheuser-Busch products.
August A Busch Sr. took the lead on the purchase of additional land, and in May 1911, he formed the Sunset Hill Country Club in a small building adjacent to the Sunset Inn. With the death of Adolphus Busch in 1913, it fell to August Sr. to continue the legacy of Sunset.
Through 1914, August Sr. continued to purchase more land until he acquired over 170 acres. In 1915, Jesse Carleton joined August Sr., and Eberhard Anheuser at Sunset Hill. It was Carleton who suggested that the time was right to construct a golf course over the beautiful landscape.
The Foulis Boys
Carleton was familiar with the Foulis brothers - Robert, Jim and David - from work they had done at other area courses. He convinced August and Eberhard that the Foulis' were the right choice to design the new Sunset Hill course.
One of the brothers, Jim Foulis, was the first golf professional in the western United States, serving as professional at the Chicago GC. When he won the second U.S. Open in 1896 at Shinnecock CC, his services as a designer, as well as a player, were in high demand. His brother Robert was considered as one of the finest professional-greenkeepers in the country, and his knowledge of grasses was unsurpassed. The third brother - David - was an excellent clubmaker. Natives of Saint Andrews, Scotland, "birthplace of golf," the brothers, who learned their golf from Old Tom Morris, became known as the Founding Fathers of Midwest Golf!
In addition to designing Sunset's original course, the Foulis' also helped lay out other prestigious courses in our area---the original Bellerive, Glen Echo, Algonquin, and the Bogey Club and Log Cabin Club courses, as well as performing the construction on the courses at Forest Park, Normandie GC, Ruth Park and the original course for Westwood CC (today Westborough CC).
When the course was completed in the spring of 1917, it was hailed as one of the most beautiful and best designs in the country.
Following construction of the golf course, Sunset built a swimming pool in 1918. This quickly became a family favorite. In keeping with the Sunset tradition of being a trend setter, it was the first pool in the St. Louis area to permit men to swim "topless."
The original Sunset Inn was so far out in the country it had to be virtually self contained. Buildings for the chef and waitresses were located near the Inn, so help would always be available. In addition, a home for the club manager was also on the grounds. The stables, used to hold the horses and carriages for members and guests dining at the Inn, were later converted into the Men's locker room. The original Sunset Hill clubhouse - with the large Hohenzollern Eagle as the centerpiece - was updated for use as the Ladies' locker room.
Weathering The Depression: A New Clubhouse
However, like most private clubs, Sunset Hill suffered through the years of The Great Depression and temporarily closed its doors in 1937. A few months later, a group of former Sunset Hill members approached Anheuser-Busch to reorganize the club, which they did in 1938, renaming the club Sunset CC. In 1944, Anheuser-Busch was approached by the club with an offer to sell the club to the membership. After consulting with Alice Busch, the widow of August A. Busch Sr., who held deed to 95-acres, the sale was completed in 1945.
In 1955, the original clubhouse began to show signs of wear. By 1957, it was determined that the clubhouse needed to be replaced. The original clubhouse was razed and the present building constructed on the same foundation. Further renovations to the were made in 1989 and again in 2004; all in an effort to meet the needs of the growing membership.
Renovation, Renewal and Rejuvenation
In 2009, the members voted to begin a project to create a unified recreational complex of tennis, golf and swimming near the front of the club. Designated Phase 1A, the new pool, Pavilion and golf practice facility, combined with the existing tennis courts, was completed in the summer of 2011. This complex gives Sunset an unsurpassed recreation area for our members and their families.
Sunset's Clubhouse sits on one of the highest elevations in South County providing a spectacular western view of the golf course and the Meramec River Valley and Ozark foothills beyond. Sunset Country Club represents a beautiful combination of land use and environmental preservation. Its magnificent rolling hills and woods provide both a bird sanctuary and animal habitat. Golf at Sunset is truly a walk in the splendor of nature without man-made intrusions.