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The 5 Oldest Golf Courses in the United States

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For more than a century, Americans have played golf. It’s a life-long activity and can be played at almost any age. On which course did Americans first develop a passion for the sport? There is some debate. In some circumstances, general sports clubs or golf clubs existed before golf courses were built. Other times, courses were private before becoming public or they changed location from the original site. Golf Course vs. Golf Club For example, the Savannah Golf Club was established in 1794 in Savannah, Georgia. Newspapers from that time serve as a testimony to this history. However, the Savannah Golf Club built its first course in 1899, which disqualifies it from this list, but it is certainly worth an honorable mention.   There is also debate about whether the courses are still operational, if they have had continuous or non-continuous play throughout the years, and whether they were public or private from their time of conception. That said, this is an overview of five of the oldest golf courses in the United States, based on when the course opened for operation. It is also probably worth mentioning that the golf clubs drove the progression of golf courses. Therefore, all the oldest golf courses in the United States originated from social clubs known as golf clubs.

Nos. 1 and 2: Oakhurst Golf Club Versus the Foxburg Club

Consider the Foxburg Golf Club (Pennsylvania), and The Oakhurst Golf Club (West Virginia). Both Foxburg and Oakhurst had records of playable courses in 1884. The Foxburg, however, was a private course on private property that only had eight holes when it was created. In 1887, the Foxburg added nine new public holes to their course, and that course has been in continuous working existence ever since. The Oakhurst Golf Club also formed in 1884. Oakhurst claims to be “the first organized golf club in the United States.” Remember, some golf clubs at that time were not exclusively golf clubs. Oakhurst is the oldest golf course still in use in the same location in the United States. Although the Oakhurst links make up one of the oldest golf courses in the United States, it does not meet the criteria for continuous use that many of the “oldest course” title holders are proud of having. Unfortunately, the Oakhurst was only open from 1884 to 1912 and closed due to competition. The Oakhurst remained closed from 1912 to 1994, but it was reopened and remodeled with the classic aesthetic it once had. In fact, many patrons use antique equipment and dress in antiquated clothes while playing the course.

No. 3: The Quogue Field Club

One of the oldest golf courses in the United States is the Quogue Field Club in Quogue, NY. The private course was built in 1887 and is still in use today. Originally, the Quogue was an 18-hole course. In 1938, however, three holes were lost to a natural disaster. Now, only nine holes remain of the original 18 from 1887. Those nine holes are among the oldest in the United States golf course history.

No. 4: Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

golf2 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and course date back to 1892. Here, one of the oldest, original golf courses exists, but only 12 of the 18 holes. Willie Davis designed the original 12 holes at Shinnecock Hills. In 1894, another six holes were added. Shinnecock Hills is noteworthy not only for its longevity, but also because of its progressive history. It was the first golf club in the United States to accept female members, and among the first golf clubs worldwide. Shinnecock Hills is also home to the United States oldest golf clubhouse.

No. 5: The Chicago Golf Club

The Chicago Golf Club is the oldest 18-hole course in the United States. The course was originally only nine holes, but it was increased to 18 in 1893. The 18 holes were redesigned in 1895 and moved to a location in Wheaton, making it the second oldest 18-hole course still existing in the United States, next to Shinnecock. All 18 holes, sadly, are no longer accessible. The Chicago Golf Club is now known as Downers Grove Golf Club, and only 9 of the 18 holes are operated. Although some minor changes were made to the course over the years, Nos. 2, 4, 7, 8, and 9 still maintain their original design integrity.

Honorable Mention: The Royal Montreal Golf Club

The Royal Montreal Golf Club in Quebec has a history of different locations. When the Royal Montreal first opened in 1873, it was a highly recognized club. It even received a Royal title from Queen Victoria. Nonetheless, the Royal Montreal moved from its original location in 1896 to a new location while maintaining its original name. In 1959, it moved again, this time to its current location in Ile Bizard. It was, however, recognized as “in continuous use” throughout the transitions. Although the Royal Montreal is one of the oldest clubs in the United States, its location is not original. Therefore, it’s not among the truly old courses, but it deserves an honorable mention because of its prestige at the time.

Honorable Mention No. 2: St Andrew’s Golf Club

St Andrew’s Golf Club (New York) also deserves mention because it is among the oldest golf courses with continuous use today. The golf club proudly acknowledges more than 125 years of continuous course play and can attribute continuous play on the current course back to 1897 — although the club itself has been notably active since 1888. Shortly after the opening of St Andrew’s course in 1897, the Savannah Golf Club responded with a course that has been in use since 1899. Although there are some discrepancies about what makes a golf course old, the oldest golf courses or clubs in the United States are all worth visiting if the opportunity arises. They are all an important piece of history and loved by their communities.

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Winston is the content manager for DIY Golf Cart. When he is not writing about golf, you can find him on the links or on his boat.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Val A.

    Oct 17, 2018 at 3:51 am

    How’s about Pinehurst Golf Course in N.C.? I read that the course was laid out 1897/98, Pinehurst should get a mention in the article.

  2. Kit Lefoy

    Dec 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    While it is not in the USA largely because we expelled the American invaders in the war of 1812-14 (battle of Lundy’s Lane, etc.) the Niagara On The Lake Golf Club ()9-holes) is one of the oldest clubs still on its’ original site (2nd or 3rd).

    It is just a cannon shot from Lewisburg, N.Y. across the Niagara River. Did I forget to mention that we gave Detroit back to America at the end of the war.

  3. Shelby Miller

    Dec 27, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I am looking to find information on how to verify if our course is the longest family-owned golf course in the United States. It has been open since 1931 and has been in the same family the length of it’s existence. It is Cloverleaf Golf Course in Alton, Illinois. Feedback and help would be much appreciated!

  4. Greg Messina

    Dec 27, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Shennecossett in Groton, CT, established 1898 and still going strong. Great golf course, may not be the oldest but certainly one of the oldest.

  5. scott kolb

    Dec 26, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Since you mentioned Royal Montreal then Victoria GC in Victoria BC was formed in 1893 and like shinnecock is still on its same site and continuous operation. 125th year next year.

  6. Thomas Nakagawa

    Dec 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

    can you check out Moanalua golf course it is the oldest course west of the Rockeys

  7. anton kozlik

    Dec 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

    The oldest continuously played golf course in North America is the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course in Ontario. It opened in 1875.

  8. Michael Doctor

    Dec 26, 2017 at 11:02 am

    BLUFF POINT IN PLATTSBURGH NY

  9. Doug

    Dec 25, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Sorry palmetto was not mentioned. It started in 1892

  10. Jedd

    Dec 24, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Dorset Field Club in Vermont, 1886.

  11. Scott

    Dec 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Dorset Field Club in Dorset Vermont is in USGA museum as oldest course in country. Am I missing something here?

  12. Howie Zink

    Dec 24, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Mare Island Golf Course in Vallejo, CA was built in 1892, making it the oldest course west of the Mississippi.

    • Aaron

      Dec 24, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      There are other courses that make this claim. Gearhart, Country Club of Seattle, Del Monte, and Aetna Springs.

    • Tom R

      Dec 26, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      Mare island immediately came to my mind as well

  13. Ken Smith

    Dec 23, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Royal Montreal golf club is in Quebec , Canada not in the United States. Proof read your posts writers

    • Ken Smith

      Dec 23, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      Honorable mention is ok but what’s the point ? Stick to the u.s. courses for accuracy.

  14. larry

    Dec 23, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    What about Essex County Country Club?? 1887!!!

  15. DB

    Dec 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Middlesboro Country Club in Kentucky was Est in 1889.

  16. Bob Nied

    Dec 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Sorry…..bad information on Chicago Golf Club.

    • psygolf

      Dec 23, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      what’s incorrect? Maybe the transition of the current CGC to Wheaton was worded poorly, but I believe the description of the Downer’s 9 hole course is accurate, yes/no?

      • Joe Perez

        Dec 26, 2017 at 11:42 am

        A lot of the section on Chicago Golf Club is poorly worded. From the second half on I can’t tell if he’s writing about the *original* golf course or the 1895 redesigned course.

  17. Clint

    Dec 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, SC was founded in 1892. Designed by Alister McKenzie and been up and running on the original ground since inception. Definitely think it should be ok the list or at least honorable mention.

    • Jason

      Dec 23, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Alistair Mackenzie didn’t do the original 1892 design, he came over in the early 1930s and transformed the sand greens to grass amongst other renovations while constructing ANGC a few miles away.

  18. Chuck

    Dec 23, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    This topic has been discussed at length on a number of golf websites. And as far as I am aware, a golf course that I have played in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York is the oldest. And remarkably, it is almost unchanged from its earliest days. Most modern golfers would consider it a field, with some excruciatingly tiny greens.

    It is private; the club is the Edgewood Club of Tivoli, NY. The amateur golf club researchers at Golf Club Atlas seem to agree that having been founded in 1884, and operating continuously there ever since, Edgewood is the oldest continually-operating golf course in the U.S.A. Even better is the fact that the course is almost unchanged in all that time.

  19. Tim

    Dec 23, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    And The Country Club in Brookline is where on this list?

  20. Marty Desmarais

    Dec 23, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I know Quebec wants to leave Canada but I didn’t realise it was already part of the USA!?

    • Bob Jones

      Dec 26, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      The State Department is negotiating a swap of Quebec for Florida and one of the Dakotas.

  21. stephen hughes

    Dec 23, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Great article. The Royal Montreal is in Canada and was the first golf course on the continent.

    Take care

    • anton kozlik

      Dec 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      There is a difference between a “golf course” and a “golf club”. The Royal Montreal was the first “golf club” but has moved several times. Niagara-on-the-Lake, on the other hand, has been continuously in use since 1875.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem was submitted by GolfWRX member CVC (with a +1 from sabram), and it’s called Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. Here’s why it was submitted, according to CVC:

“This A.W. Tillinghast design sits on hills in the middle of Swope Park in Kansas City. A municipal course managed by Orion Management Systems, it offers amazing view of the Kansas City skyline, typical Tillinghast guarded greens that reward good shots by funneling the ball toward the hole. Opened in 1935, it features mature trees and elevation changes that make it a pleasure to play.”

According to the Swope Memorial website, prices range from $17 during Twilight hours, to $50 during peak hours on the weekends.

Check out more photos of the course below (provided by GolfWRX user sabram), and click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

Click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kansas

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is called Sand Creek Station located in Newton, Kansas, and it was submitted by GolfWRX Member grandslambound. Here’s why the course was submitted…

“This place is pure. Host of the 2014 U.S. Pub Links Championship, and last years NJCAA Jayhawk conference championship. Played it a couple weeks ago for $28 bucks with a cart and 2 drink tickets. It is a big 7359 from the tips and the wind is always whipping. The 10th hole is with out a doubt the signature hole, a 640 yard par 5 with water left and OB right on the tee shot and the water right and OB left on any lay-up or approach. This hole is so cocky they give you a free tee shirt if you birdie it. (Doug Ghim eagled it in the 2014 US Pub Links final round) It includes many great architecture elements including a redan green on the par 5 4th. Not to mention how great of condition it was in when I played it as well. This place is a steal.”

He’s not kidding. According to Sand Creek Station’s website, the course ranges from $24 to $49, and those prices include cart and range balls.

Check out more photos of the course below, and if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you think belongs on our list, submit it here!

Submit your favorite local course under $50 here!

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Cedar Crest, home of the 1927 PGA Championship

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s hidden gem, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, is called Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. If you’re a golf historian, you may recognize the course (formerly known as Cedar Crest Country Club) as the host of the 1927 PGA Championship. That was back when the PGA Championship was a match play event, and in the 1927 competition, Walter Hagen defeated Joe Turnesa 1up.

Today, according to Cedar Crest’s website, rates range from $13 to $48 dollars depending on time of day and the season, which has to make it one of the most affordable major championship venues to play in the world.

Check out more photos of the course, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, below, And if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you want to submit, click here.

Submit your favorite local Hidden Gem here.

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