HARLINGEN — With an early morning ceremony, Harlingen Country Club members yesterday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the club.

The celebration involved current club members as well as ambassadors from the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, who participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and held a commemorative opening tee shot.

The club first opened its doors in 1949, but moved to its current location in 1969.

What used to be Harlingen’s airport is now an 18-hole golf course that has been ranked one of the best in the Rio Grande Valley, according to membership director Estella Coello.

Matt Gorges, one of the founding members from 1969, did the first shot off the #1 tee 50 years ago and recreated it in yesterday’s ceremony.

“It feels wonderful to do this 50 years later. I come to the club four or five times a week and play three times a week,” Gorges said. “I think it is a wonderful thing that it is turning 50 and we have about a hundred new members. It is a great place to be, a great organization and a great group of people. Everyone is welcome.”

Current club President Dr. Jim Rowe said the growth of the club is what excites members for the future.

“I enjoy participating in the club activities and helping it in the direction of its growth. We are right now 450 members strong and we have grown by at least 100, like Matt said,” Rowe said.

“We are happy to show anyone who is interested. The people make up the club and we are very family-friendly and that is what perpetuates our club,” he said.

Rowe said what makes the club members special is the camaraderie between each other.

“Many of us including my wife and I were flooded by the thunderstorm and lost everything. But by the grace of fellow members we have somewhere to stay as our house is rebuilt and another member has loaned us a car and that shows the spirit of the kind of people that are members,” he said.

The Harlingen Country Club will continue to celebrate this weekend with a member mixer today and a pool party tomorrow.

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DID YOU KNOW: Country Club Facts

• Built in 1949.

• Relocated to old airport area in 1969.

• Commemorative 50th anniversary golf balls as well as apparel are available for purchase at the club shops