Golf courses

A Look at America’s Oldest Golf Courses

The more you research the topic “oldest golf courses” in America, the more you will find several claims of who holds the crown as the oldest course where golf is still played today.

The game has no real source to define, in uncertain terms, who is indeed the oldest. A sticking point for many in defining which course is actually oldest is the idea that a course is in the same place and in the same general layout as it was when it was created.

Rather than giving you a list, in an order that ultimately crowns a course as the “oldest” in America, that you can still play today, here is an overview, in no particular order, of the oldest courses in America where golf is still played today…

Quogue Field Club, Quogue, New York (Course 1901 – Club established 1887)

The Quogue Field Club is a private golf course that dates back to 1901. The club itself, before golf was played, dates back to 1887. As is the case with many “old” courses in America, Approximate initial layouts, some with only a handful of holes spread over private grounds, find their way into a Club’s history. This is the case of the Quogue Field Club. A rough 9-hole course is said to have been laid in 1896 by RB Wilson, who was the chief golf professional near Shinnecock Hills.

Dorset Field Club, Dorset, Vermont (Original 9 holes, 1886)

According to the Dorset Field Club, its history began in 1886 when its first chairman, Arvin Harrington, laid out a nine-hole course. Over the years, the course has undergone five major changes, with added length as well as holes. In 1999 it became an 18-hole facility. With no real criteria in place to indicate which course in the annals of American golf history is actually the oldest in the United States, some say Dorset Field Club wins the prize. Golf has indeed been played on the property continuously since 1886, however, as mentioned, significant changes have been made to the original layout from that time. The Dorset Field Club clubhouse has been in use since 1896 and is believed to be the second oldest clubhouse after the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club clubhouse.

Dorset Field Club (Credit: dorsetfieldclub.com)

Foxburg Country Club, Foxburg, Pennsylvania (1887)

This nine-hole gem is perhaps the closest to an official claim to be the oldest golf course in continuous use in the United States. Foxburg Country Club was established in 1887 and golf is still played there today, and on the same course as originally established by its founder.

In 1874, Joseph Mickle Fox traveled to England with the All-American Cricket team to compete in a series of cricket matches. One of the matches was scheduled for Edinburgh, Scotland. After this match, Fox traveled to St. Andrews to see the game of golf played at the home of golf.

While at St. Andrews, Fox befriended Old Tom Morris. Old Tom taught Fox the basics of the game and sold him a set of golf clubs and gutta-percha balls to take back to America.

Foxbourg Country Club

Foxbourg Country Club

The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts (1882)

The Country Club, located in Brookline, Massachusetts, is the oldest country club in the United States. It holds an important place in the history of golf, as it was one of the five founding clubs that founded the United States Golf Association. The Country Club has hosted numerous USGA tournaments including 6 US Amateurs (1910, 1922, 1934, 1957, 1982, 2013), 3 US Women’s Amateurs (1902, 1941, 1995), 4 US Open Championships (1913, 1963, 1988, 2022). Additionally, the Country Club hosted the Ryder Cup in 1999.

The 1913 US Open won by then-unknown Francis Ouimet is considered by many golf historians to be an event that forever changed the course of the game in the United States.

The 33rd Ryder Cup was held at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1999.

The 33rd Ryder Cup was held at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1999.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, NY (1891)

Shinnecock Hills was established in 1891. It is said to have the oldest golf club in the United States (1892) and was the first American golf club to admit female members, which it has done from the start.

Shinnecock has hosted 8 USGA Championships. 1 US Amateur (1896), 1 US Women’s Amateur (1900), 5 US Open Championships (1896, 1986, 1995, 2004 and 2018) and 1 Walker Cup (1977). Shinnecock is the only golf course to have hosted the US Open in three different centuries.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, NY.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, NY.

The Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois (1892)

Founded by renowned course designer and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Charles B. Macdonald, the Chicago Golf Club is the oldest 18-hole course in North America. The Chicago Golf Club has hosted 12 USGA Championships. 4 US Amateurs (1897, 1905, 1909 and 1912), 1 US Women’s Amateur (1903), 1 US Senior Amateur (1979), 3 US Open Championships (1897, 1900 and 1911), 1 US Senior Women’s Open (2018), and 2 Walker Cups (1928 and 2005).

The 2018 Senior Women’s Open was the inaugural edition of this championship.

Newport Country Club, Newport, Rhode Island (1893)

Founded 129 years ago in 1893, Newport Country Club has the distinction of hosting both the first American Amateur Championship and the first US Open in 1895. Theodore Havemeyer, the founder of Newport Country Club, played golf during from a trip to France in 1889. Returning to his summer residence in Newport, he began planning what would later become the Newport Country Club. Anxious to host national tournaments, Havemeyer invited the best amateurs in the country to his new course for a championship in 1894, this event was the predecessor of National Championship Golf in the United States. Newport has hosted 2 US Amateur’s (1895, 1995), 1 US Open Championship (1895) and 1 US Women’s Open Championship (2006). In June 2020, the club was scheduled to host the US Senior Open, but after the pandemic forced its cancellation, the event was moved to 2024.

Saint Andrew’s Golf Club, Yonkers, NY (1888)

Founded in 1888 by John Reid, St. Andrews Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in the United States. The current site of the club, since 1897, includes an 18-hole golf course designed by golf course architects William H. Tucker and Harry Tallmadge. In 1983, Jack Nicklaus renovated St. Andrews Golf Club. The story is about “The Apple Tree Gang” led by Reid, as a group of friends who took an armful of clubs and gutta percha balls to a pasture in Yonkers for a friendly game.

Oakhurst Links, White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, (originally laid out, 1884)

Oakhurst Links was a nine-hole course that was laid out in 1884. The first competition at Oakhurst was held in 1888. On the grounds is the home of course developer Russell W. Montague, which served as the Oakhurst Links clubhouse . The clubhouse itself was built around 1880, but I couldn’t verify an actual date. The 9 hole course was golfed until 1912 when it was turned back to pasture. Eventually the land was purchased by Lewis Keller to raise his racehorses. Keller often golfed with Sam Snead, who was the resident professional player at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs. Snead told Keller he believed the property was the site of the first golf course in the United States. In 1994, a restoration effort was launched to return Oakhurst Links to its former glory.