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History of the Club
Caesarea is located on land purchased by the Rothschild Family prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. When James de Rothschild, a passionate golfer, saw the dunes surrounding Caesarea's Roman ruins, he was reminded of Scotland's sandy golf courses and decided that he would one day build a golf course in Caesarea. Upon his death, the James de Rothschild Foundation was created and immediately began working to fulfill his dream.
In 1957, under the supervision of chief architect Fred Smith, construction of the Caesarea Golf club got under way. During the years of its construction, a professional team was put together who worked out of a Tel Aviv-based office to begin establishing contacts and recruiting friends from the golf world abroad (particularly in the Jewish golf clubs). Charley Mendelstem, a South African immigrant and avid amateur golfer was hired in 1960 as the golf club's professional manager, serving in this capacity for the next 35 years until his retirement. Charley began teaching lessons in the Tel Aviv office, using word of mouth to draw young Israelis to the office for their first lessons - off of the golf course. All operations moved to Caesarea upon completion of construction work.
In August 1960, the Club was unofficially opened by Abba Eban and Arthur Luria (two of the very limited number of golfers in Israel at that time). The Club's official opening took place in January 1961, Lord Victor Rothschild and Abba Eban took shots from the first tee in order to officially open the course. In 1961, the Caesarea Golf Club hosted the golf competitions for the Maccabiah Games; it has hosted the same competitions every four years since.
In 1967, ownership of the Club transferred from the James de Rothschild Foundation to the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, and Jean Bolk replaced Max Rowe as the owners' representative in Israel.
In 1979, a computerized irrigation system was installed at the golf course; it cost over one million dollars. Following its installation, members informed Baron Edmond de Rothschild that he must increase his annual subsidy to the golf club or they could no longer manage it for him. His rejection of this ultimatum caused the club's management to be changed again. Caesarea Development Corporation, whose shares were split between the Baron and the State of Israel, took over the management of the Club.
The Caesarea Golf Club has a long tradition of investing in golf education for Israelis. Alon Ben David, a manager of the Caesarea Golf Course instituted a new rule allowing every former caddy and Or Akiva resident to receive full membership to the club for reduced membership fees. In addition, in 1983, he also began taking groups of caddies with low-handicaps to North America to play with members of Jewish golf clubs. The result was the establishment of the "Twin Clubs' Program," designed by Ben David and Ori Ayalon, President of the Israeli Golf Federation, to "promote ties with Jewish golf clubs around the world, and to raise the necessary funding to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to advance through golf, thereby helping them advance in their lives."
In 1987, a fully subsidized golf school was set up for children between the ages of 7-18. Three years later, IDF wounded veterans were added to the golf study program in order to assist in facilitating their rehabilitation. They received lessons, equipment and the possibility to play free of charge.
In 1984, Bob Tannen, a new immigrant from the United States, took over responsibility for the pro shop from Mendelstem and made electric golf carts available for rent which enhanced the success of the Club.
Sam Sharo was one of the first Jewish golfers in the world. His love affair with Israeli golf began in 1961 when he heard about the opening of the first and only golf course in the country. Ever since, Sam adopted the Caesarea Golf Course and every Israeli golfer he met. In addition, he established a courageous and long-term relationship with the Club's professional manager, Charley Mendelstem. Sam's main goal was to promote the game among young Israelis. He regularly sent equipment and donations, and hosted every young Israeli golfer who visited the United States. Out of respect and admiration for his dedication, efforts and generosity to Israeli golf, the Club, in conjunction with the Israeli Golf Federation, launched the Sam Sharo Annual Golf Competition. Sam died in April 1994 at the age of 91.
Over the years, many important political figures, like Israeli President Chaim Herzog, international celebrities, like Frank Sinatra, and top ranked golfers, including Snead, Whitman and Cotton, have played on the Caesarea Golf Course.