Those who know the history of Forest Dale Golf Course may have assumed that the pool in which thousands of people learned to scuba dive and snorkel was once part of the swanky Salt Lake Country Club that catered to Salt Lake’s rich and famous.
But that’s not the story. When the Country Club was located at 2375 South 900 East, it was renowned for its Spanish Mission-style clubhouse, the 9-hole golf course, and its three tennis courts. The Club was prominently featured in Salt Lake society news for fifteen years. But when it was relocated in 1920 to a new (and current) location at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon near 2100 East, the City took over the 61-acre Forest Dale property.
In 1933, the newly-formed Salt Lake Tennis club leased the tennis courts at “Dale,” restored their playing surfaces, and made them available in 1947 for the first National Clay Courts Tennis Tournament to be held in the West. David Freed was a board member of the new club, and was instrumental in bringing many such nationally prominent sporting events to Utah during the 100th anniversary of the pioneer settlers’ arrival here.
Lee Hammel, a member of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and Utah Tennis Hall of Fame, was manager of the Salt Lake Tennis Club at Forest Dale from 1954 to 1963. Hammel is credited with building the first swimming pool at the club (ca. 1960), an outdoor pool that was located south of the tennis courts. Tom Wharton remembered swimming there and watching tennis matches with his family from the green wooden bleachers. A small auxiliary structure that still stands north of the pool was originally built as a snack bar.
In 1963 David L. Freed founded the Salt Lake Swimming & Tennis Club, and built a new recreational facility at its present location at 2471 S 1700 E. Laury Hammel, a tennis champion who in 2009 was inducted to the New England Tennis Hall of Fame and is Lee Hammel’s son, purchased the Salt Lake Swimming and Tennis Club In October 2013.
Sen. Gene Davis, a lifetime resident of Sugar House, said that the tennis courts at Forest Dale were leased by various pros including Jeff Robbins (now director of the Utah Sports Commission). The swimming pool, Davis noted, was part of that operation. Neptune Divers took over its management in 1979, and renovated the pool as an underwater training facility.
Salt Lake Country Club and Golf Course has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination was approved by the SLC Historic Preservation Review Board, and submitted by the State Historic Preservation Review Board to the National Park Service last May. Two parcels adjacent to the 50.2-acre property were omitted from the nomination – the .86-acre site that is under consideration as the future home of SLC Fire Station #3, and the .6-acre parcel that is under long-term lease to Neptune Divers.