In the summer of 1861, President Lincoln's thoughts most assuredly did not dwell on the pastime of golf. The disastrous rout of the Federal Army in the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas, depending on the allegiance of one's forebears) had left the nation's capital virtually defenseless. With the victorious Confederate Army encamped only a few miles away, Mr. Lincoln's thoughts concentrated powerfully on erecting suitable defenses, and within a short time, a project was underway which, in the next four years, would make Washington, D.C. "the most heavily fortified city in the nation."
Commanding the highest ground of all the forts on the Virginia side was Fort Richardson, sited on a crest which would eventually comprise part of the Army Navy Country Club. Today, only remnants of Fort Richardson's parapets and ditches remain, flanking the Red 9 green; they tend to go unnoticed except for when an approach shot is shanked or hooked.
Sixty-three years later, the same land was going to take a very different military direction. There was much discussion during the summer and early fall of 1924 about the need on the part of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officers stationed in the Washington area for outdoor recreation facilities. This need sprang from the realization that such officers, with modest salaries and generally without other means, were hard put to meet expenses for the necessities of life, let alone afford the high initiation fees and dues associated with membership in existing private country clubs of the area. Moreover, officers stationed for only a few years in Washington D.C. with only limited time available for recreation were confronted with long waiting lists at the existing clubs. The locations of these clubs on the fringes of the Washington area were so remote that they made them almost inaccessible during the limited time available for recreation. On 11 November 1924, the Army Navy and Marine Corps Country Club was incorporated. (The name was changed to Army Navy Country Club on 3 December 1930.)
Since its ground breaking ceremony at the Arlington site on 5 August 1927, Members have included Major General John A. Lejeune, USMC; Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN; General Omar Bradley, USA; and Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and William J. Clinton.
Other highlights of direct or indirect historic significance include:
- A seventeenth-century land grant which included ANCC's Arlington location
- An eighteenth-century execution of a Scottish Lord
- A nineteenth-century will which has committed ANCC to maintain a graveyard on its property in Arlington. Tombstones enclosed by an iron fence are clearly noticeable adjoining the path between #13 green and #14 tee. The burial mounds of slaves interred outside the fenced enclosure have vanished.
- A Civil War convalescent hospital and isolation ward for Union Soldiers. In the aftermath of the Bull Run disaster an emergency hospital was probably located in the general area of #12 fairway.
- In 1914, the Knights of Columbus purchased a farmhouse on the site of the previous Clubhouse with intentions to construct with suitable modifications, and establish a social club.