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CAROLA LILLIE HARTLEY
Publisher and Contributing Writer

Featured Photograph: Golfers on the green of the Cedar Crest Country Club located to the south of Opelousas in 1929. (Photograph Carola Lillie Hartley Collection.)

Did you know years before there was a Cedar Lane Club in Opelousas, there was the Cedar Crest Country Club and Golf Course? The opening of that golf course created great excitement in and around Opelousas. This is how the story goes.

We know from history that the sport of golf goes back hundreds of years, to the 15th century Kingdom of Scotland. About two centuries later, the Old Course at St. Andrews in that country was created in 1764. It was during that century that some golf historians say the sport was being played in America. But it took many more years and decades before that sport made its way to Opelousas.

On May 11, 1928, the Cedar Crest Country Club was chartered in Opelousas. The first members of the club included A. E. “Toby” Veltin, Rev. J. A. Hyland, John W. Lewis, A. J. Boudreau, James D. Parkerson, Henry D Larcade, L. B. Sandoz, L. F. Richard, M. Winsberg, O. H. Bollum, J. E. Whaley, Allen Dezauche, Frank Daly, John DeBlieux, and J. P Barnett.

The first Board of Governors listed in the original charter were Rev. J. A. Hyland, A. J. Boudreau, J. E. Whaley, M. Winsberg, J. P. Barnett, John DeBlieux, Frank Daly, John W. Lewis and Allen Dezauche.  First officers listed were Allen Dezauche, president; A. J. Boudreau, Vice-president; and A. E. Veltin, Secretary-Treasurer.

The objects and purposes of the corporation were to provide and maintain a golf course, club house, tennis courts and other educational, athletic and amusement arrangements for the entertainment, amusement or pleasure of its members, visitors and guests.

The country club leased the nine-hold golf course built that year by A. E. “Toby” Veltin, who oversaw the upkeep of the grounds and the club house.  

The organization of the Cedar Crest Country Club was announced in a front-page article in the Clarion-News on May 18, 1928. The announcement stated the golf course would be ready for play in about two months from that date, weather permitting. The formal opening was held on August 1, 1928.

The membership fee to belong to the Cedar Crest Country Club was $35.00 per year. Members were able to use the club and play golf as they desired. Non-members were allowed to play the course but were charged a greens fee.

The Cedar Crest Golf Course was described as a beautiful one, attracting many players from all over Southwest Louisiana to Opelousas.  When the golf course opened for play, the only other course in the area was the Wartelle Golf Course located in neighboring Washington.

Soon after the course opened, it was obvious the male population of the town was interested in golf. There were men playing on the course daily. But it wasn’t long before Opelousas women got involved with the sport of golf, both as fans and players. Two of the first women of Opelousas to play the game were Mrs. W. T. Steward and Mrs. Henry D. Larcade.

All members of the Cedar Crest Country Club had to abide by the club rules. They were asked to use the greatest care not to scar or mar the golf course surface. Golf bags could not be dropped on the green since the iron clubs would cut the surface. No high heels were allowed on the green, and women players were not allowed on the course unless they were wearing perfectly flat heeled shoes.

Members were also not permitted to park their cars or drive their automobiles onto the green. Other rules of courtesy were established among the golfers, and all rules were expected to be followed.

With the opening of the country club, golf became so popular in Opelousas that weekly tournaments were planned. Local businesses in downtown began selling golf balls, clubs, bags and other products associated with the sport.

Besides being the first country club in town, the Cedar Crest Country Club became a part of local history for another reason on November 7, 1928, when the first newspapers ever delivered in Opelousas by airplane were dropped on its grounds. The plane was chartered by the Times-Picayune Publishing Company of New Orleans to carry news to Opelousas about the National Presidential election in a special airplane edition. The newspapers were picked up at the country club and brought to Opelousas and put on sale. The next day, that story made the first page of the Opelousas News.

Information about the Cedar Crest Golf Course was included in the St. Landry Parish booklet published by the Opelousas Chamber of Commerce, the City of Opelousas, the City of Eunice and the Town of Port Barre, with assistance by the St. Landry Parish Police Jury in July of 1929.

During that same month, Toby Veltin organized the Inter-city Golf Association. Teams from area towns got together and played tournaments organized at Cedar Crest and many other golf courses around Southwest Louisiana. Members of the association from Cedar Crest Club in Opelousas included A. E. “Toby” Veltin, Senator Henry D. Larcade, J. A. Dejean, Felix Richard, Lawrence Sandoz, Dr. George Beridon, John Wartelle, Manning Wartelle, H. P. Wartelle, Phillip Wartelle, and Professor Stafford.

The Cedar Crest Country Club became the place for special events and activities in the community. It hosted private parties, banquets, and civic organization events. It offered other entertainment opportunities like tennis matches, gun shooting events, etc. Professional golf instructors from throughout Louisiana came to the club to give lessons to those wanting to learn more about the game of golf.

As the club continued to grow, it became necessary to add to the property. In August of 1929 the Clarion News printed an article on the first page stating the Cedar Crest Country Club was being reorganized by a group of local businessmen including L. J. Larcade, L. M. Lafleur, Senator Henry Larcade, J. A. Dejean, Morris Hirsch, Allen Dezauche, A. E. “Toby” Veltin, Dr. Lionel Bienvenu, Lawrence Sandoz and Alex Watkins. Toby Veltin agreed to a five-year lease on the property to the club at that time. The reorganization plan included building a Club House near the golf course.

Business interests in Opelousas were enlisted to further develop the course. A statement issued by members of the committee in charge read as follows: “We regard a golf course as a splendid asset to any community and virtually every city the size of Opelousas either owns one or has one within it limits. It offers entertaining, healthful exercise for men, women and children. Every wide-awake community realizes this. It deserves the assistance and co-operation of every citizen and civic body in Opelousas.”

The drive to improve the Cedar Crest Country Club was not very successful. on July 17, 1930, after annual dues were not met, Toby Veltin announced the golf course would close by July 15.

Announcement in the Clarion-News on Thursday, July 17, 1930, Page one.

Golf enthusiasts in and around Opelousas immediately formed a canvassing committee with a new membership drive launched. The golf course was saves, but it had a different name, and a different purpose.

In 1929, at the same time the Cedar Crest Country Club was operating, Toby Veltin and his wife Julia Boagni Veltin organized the Cedar Lane Supper Club.  This was a private group that held events like dinner dances throughout the year.  Eventually the Cedar Crest Country Club and Golf Course became the Cedar Lane Country Club, and by the end of the 1930s, it developed into a nightclub known as the Cedar Lane Club. That club grew to be one of the finest entertainment spots in Southwest Louisiana.

And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.