The Legendary Jungle Golf Course

One of the most famous golf courses in the country closed in 1943. In the 1950’s, a residential neighborhood – Azaleaville – was built on top of the legendary course. Every winter from 1925 through 1935, Babe Ruth would appear at the Jungle Country Club with a golf bag filled with niblicks, brassies, cleeks, mashies, lofters, and jiggers – and probably some Tampa cigars and bootleg booze. Babe Ruth was the preeminent celebrity of the Roaring Twenties and the media followed him wherever he went. Each year in February and March, images of Ruth playing golf on the Jungle course appeared in newspapers and movie newsreels across the country. The Jungle Country Club must have looked like paradise to those who were suffering through winter in other parts of the country.

The Country Club at Davista golf course opened in 1916 (it was renamed the Jungle Country Club in 1925). It was the first championship level course in St. Petersburg – designed by renowned course architect A.W. Tillinghast and touted as possibly the best course south of Baltimore. During the next three decades, luminaries of the era – as well as residents and tourists – played on the course. Hall of Fame golfers Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen, Hall of Fame baseball players Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx, football coach Pop Warner and civic leaders Mayor Al Lang, H. Walter Fuller and Walter P. Fuller all played on the Jungle Country Club course. The prestige of living near the golf course and Boca Ciega Bay inspired the affluent to build magnificent homes, many of which are still standing.

Babe Ruth on the first tee. The Jungle Hotel (now Admiral Farragut Academy) is in the background. (colorized)

Where was the Jungle Golf Course?

Vintage St. Pete tourism map.
Jungle golf course superimposed on current street map.

Visit The Jungle Country Club History Project for more adventures in the Jungle.

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