For the past one hundred years, Mission Hills Country Club has been a beautiful oasis in the heart of Kansas City. And that was precisely the plan of the man who first conceived of it. Mission Hills is a proud part of the history of one of America’s most important and innovative suburban planners, J.C. Nichols. The pioneering developer envisioned a country club as an integral element in his plan for his appropriately named Country Club District, which included not only the community of Mission Hills, but also the nation’s first automobile-centered shopping center, the Country Club Plaza. Nichols purchased land for the Club near the old Shawnee Indian Mission. Set in the hills near the mission, it would be founded in 1914 as Mission Hills Country Club.
For its first forty years, the Club made its home in a limestone clubhouse located across State Line Road, in Missouri. In 1955, architect and Club member Ralph Myers designed the current clubhouse and situated it at the end of a long, winding drive in the heart of the golf course. Myers’ firm, Kivett-Myers, would go on to complete two of the most important projects in the Kansas City area: the terminals and tower of Kansas City International Airport and the twin stadiums of the Truman Sports Complex, Arrowhead and Royals Stadium.
Mission Hills Country Club’s golf course is also part of a proud national history. Its original design is the work of one of the most prolific course architects in America’s history, Tom Bendelow. The Scot, called the “Johnny Appleseed of American Golf” is credited with the design of more than five hundred golf courses. Among them are East Lake in Atlanta and Medinah in Illinois. Bendelow took a “naturist” approach to course design, seeking to take full advantage of a site’s natural features: sheer rock outcroppings, steep slopes and gentle grades that rose along Brush Creek and its tributaries. Above the creek, rolling meadows were dotted by occasional groves of trees. While the situation of the new clubhouse necessitated a re-routing of holes, Bendelow’s layout would remain essentially the same for more than ninety years. In 2007, a fully renovated course opened to members. It was the work of Keith Foster, author of renovations at storied clubs and major championship venues like Southern Hills and Colonial. Foster’s work opened vistas long since obscured by trees, added a signature clubhouse par 3 and yielded spectacular green complexes to better defend the holes. A full-size driving range was also added and practice facilities enhanced. All while maintaining the integrity of the natural terrain and original Bendelow design.
With the beautiful golf course as a backdrop, Mission Hills has played host to countless gatherings and grand celebrations over the years. The Club marked its centennial with a year full of events, including a "Step Back in Time" party, monthly happy hours featuring food and drink from each of the Club's ten decades, a family carnival and "the party of the century", the Centennial Gala. The most celebrated annual gathering is the Chuckwagon party. For more than 70 years, it has marked the closing of the Club’s annual member-guest golf tournament and the end of summer. Members and guests also celebrate in the midst of summer with the yearly Pool Party. And for many decades, the Holiday Ball has put a black-tied bow on the Christmas season.
Today, Mission Hills Country Club steps into its second century with a firm footing in the rich traditions of its past. It remains much as its founders envisioned it: A beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. A place where friends and family gather to relax, unwind and celebrate. And a community deeply rooted in a shared history and shared values.