San Jose Country Club honors longstanding members, prepares for renovations

San Jose Country Club honors longstanding members, prepares for renovations
Betty Acosta and Mig Hicklin are two of the longest standing members at San Jose Country Club. Acosta joined in 1948, and Hicklin and her late husband were charter members who came on board in 1947.

When Mig Hicklin reflects on her 72 years of membership at the San Jose Country Club, some of her fondest memories are of the early years of the club, when Saturday nights were spent dining and dancing the night away with her husband, William, and all their friends.  

At that time, the club consisted of a clubhouse that contained a ballroom, small locker room, pro shop and a small kitchen. The club was situated on about 135 acres of property and there was an 18-hole golf course that needed a lot of work. 

“Back when we joined, my husband was a charter member. The men came back from the war and they wanted a golf course. The wait list at Timuquana was a mile long, so they started the San Jose Country Club,” she said. “When the club first opened, it was small – everything was centered around the dining room. At the Saturday night dances, all the tables were around the edge of the room and we danced in the middle.” 

Hicklin and other longstanding members of San Jose Country Club shared their stories at a member appreciation luncheon held April 16, the week of the club’s 72nd anniversary. The room was filled with those who have had continuous membership at the club for 40 years or more.

Betty Acosta, a member since 1948, attended the luncheon with her daughter, Andrea Newman. For Acosta, it was the people that prompted her to maintain her membership for so many years. She developed deep friendships and those friends have seen each other through the different seasons of their lives. She isn’t able to go to the club as much she once did, but she  enjoys it on occasion. 

“My mom was always here, playing golf and bridge and spending time with her friends. This club has been a huge part of her life,” said Newman. 

When former Circuit Judge Charles Arnold and his wife, Carolyn, joined the club in 1969, they came on as junior members, under the umbrella of Judge Arnold’s parents. At that time, most of the members were much older. The junior membership option encouraged younger people to join and allowed them to pay their initiation in installments.   

“I remember when we first got here, I was probably one of two women under the age of 50.  Children did not use the swimming pool – there were very few children because the members were all older and their children were grown. Now we have tons of children and tons of activities for children,” said Carolyn Arnold. “We did not have a fitness center – my husband was instrumental in getting that built. We did not have a tennis pro shop at that time either. 

“It’s been a good place to gather, especially since Jacksonville has grown,” she added. “You used to know everybody in town and now there are not many places you can go and recognize a lot of people. I come here and it’s like home.”

Former Circuit Judge Charles Arnold and his wife, Carolyn, have been members of San Jose Country Club for 50 years. They enjoy golfing and socializing at the club.
Former Circuit Judge Charles Arnold and his wife, Carolyn, have been members of San Jose Country Club for 50 years. They enjoy golfing and socializing at the club.

For Judge Arnold, it’s all about the golf. 

“They’ve always had first class golf professionals that are very kind and courteous and helpful, and that’s the real reason I’m a member – because of those folks,” he said. “We’ve been members of several clubs over the years and it’s not that way everywhere.”

While longstanding members reminisced about the roots of the club and ruminated on how it has changed through the years, they stand on the cusp of another exciting evolution – the club is preparing to begin a $9 million renovation project. The clubhouse portion of the project is expected to begin in June and be finished in late October. The second phase of the renovation will focus on the golf course and is scheduled to take place May-October 2020.

By Kandace Lankford
Resident Community News

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