The Terrible Twenties club started in July 1926 after a friendly game between Flintridge Country Club member Eric Lange and some of his friends. According to the club’s booklet, after they came and everyone joined for lunch, “someone arose and after a few enthusiastic remarks, made a motion that we become a permanent organization and play regular monthly tournaments.”
From there, the rest is history.
“And they just started playing golf at each other’s golf clubs,” said John Goodland, a Corona del Mar resident and the 363rd member of the club in its history. “They’ve never missed a month. I don’t know how they did it, but they never did.”
Once a month, 36 men from 11 Southern California golf clubs, including three men from the Santa Ana Country Club, get together at one of the clubs for an 18-hole tournament. The club is divided into high- and low-handicapped divisions, so as to “provide the same opportunity for the poorest as for the best golfer among (them).”
So why are they called the Terrible Twenties?
During that first tournament in 1926, a golfer on a parallel fairway shouted over “How are you doing?” to which the group of twenty men hollered back “terrible!”
But not every man can be equally terrible. The president is called the most terrible, while the second-in- command is called the least.
The club has been around for nearly 1,000 months with less than 400 members in its history because of the friendships that make it so exclusive. The limit is three players per golf club, and there are only three alternates, meaning that you can’t become a member until a member retires.
Goodland joined four years ago. “Apparently they liked me enough,” he said. There’s an informal waiting list to get on the club, with people stopping Goodland and others and asking them to keep them in mind should someone retire.
“We’re just a bunch of guys who like to play golf,” Goodland said.