About the Club
The Woodlands Country Club was created in 1968 when its developer, Ken Behring, wanted to build a golf community resembling Palm Springs, Calif. He purchased more than 5,000 acres and built a community of homes surrounded by fairways, beautiful wooded areas, and winding streams.
Ken Behring was a car buff who worked as a salesperson at an auto dealership. At age 21, he started a used car business called Behring Motors in Monroe, Wisc. He went on to own Car-a Mat a chain of car washes. A savvy businessman, he had $1 million in assets by age 27.
Behring moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1956 and started Behring Construction Company. He became a land developer, founding Tamarac Lakes, a new active-adult community in 1962. It was built on an area that was formerly wetlands, pastures, and fields. The new development was incorporated as Tamarac, Florida which was “Car-a-Mat” spelled backwards, on July 25, 1963.
Behring had a vision of a community of home surrounded by fairways, beautiful wooded areas and winding streams. This was to be the Woodlands where homes initially were to begin at $20,000 aimed at the pre-retirement market, with 900 clustered villas and a number of estate-type home sites in a 640 acre community.
Behring needed more land to meet the growing buyer demand. A drawback to Behring’s expansion was that more than half of the land was west of the Sunshine State Parkway, now known as the Florida Turnpike. A tunnel was the only means of crossing over to the western part of the city. Behring petitioned the Turnpike Authority to add an interchange at Commercial Boulevard and the Turnpike. Ultimately, he had to deed 27.5 acres of prime land (valued at over $1 million) to the Turnpike Authority in order to get the overpass.
The golf course was carved out of 640 acres of verdant, virgin woodlands in Tamarac which is in the Fort Lauderdale area. Jackie Gleason wanted a golf tournament that would bear his name, one to outdo the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby events. Behring and Gleason entered into a contract in which the championship course would be built bearing Gleason’s name. A contract was drawn and attorneys for both sides appeared satisfied with the terms. Behring signed, but Gleason hesitated, doubting whether it would be advantageous to him. Gleason’s demands became too expensive and finally, frustrated, Behring called the deal off.
World famous golf course architect Robert Von Hagge and PGA Tour player Bruce Devlin designed the 36 hole championship layouts, which were constructed by Leo Neal, who promised two of the best conditioned golf courses in the country citing that this was the "finest soil he had ever worked with in Florida."
For many years, the Woodlands Country Club was a who’s who list of the rich and famous from the Northeast United States’ residents like Leonard Pines, owner of Hebrew National Hotdogs, Herbert Gallen, owner of Ellen Tracy (until it was sold to Liz Claiborne in 2002) and famous American comic book artist, Will Eisner. Most of the homes in the Woodlands were winter homes for the elite until retirement, where it would then become their permanent residence.
The Club was so prosperous and popular that it had a waiting list for membership. The dining room was packed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Saturday evenings, dinner dances were held where women dressed in their finest jewels. There was so much expensive jewelry present those evenings that the club hired off-duty police to guard the premises.
Members and guests enjoy the clubhouse complex which provides recreation for the entire family, including tournament tennis on four clay courts and a swimming pool. The clubhouse is a contemporary tri-level design overlooking a two-acre lake with outdoor patios and lounge decks. There is also a formal dining room, large enough to host dances and events. The Club also features a cocktail lounge, conference rooms, men’s and women’s card rooms with bar service.
The golf-shop overlooks the large driving range as well as a practice range for chipping and sand shots. There are two 18-hole courses: the East Course and the West Course.