Devereux Emmet: American Golf Course Architect and Pioneer
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Devereux Emmet is credited with designing as many as 150 courses worldwide.
Devereux Emmet is the original designer of Congressional Country Club’s Blue Course, host of this week’s KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Emmet was a pioneering American golf course architect and is credited with designing as many as 150 courses worldwide.
The bulk of his work happened in the late 1890’s and on through the 1920’s. Devereux grew up in New York, where he became an accomplished golfer. In 1904, he even reached the quarterfinals of the British Amateur Championship at Royal St. George’s. Many trips were taken over the pond for both golf and his other love, hunting. In his travels he visited many of the most revered courses in the UK…his travel companion for many of those trips? The infamous architect, Charles Blair Macdonald.
On property that his wife’s uncle purchased in the Hempstead Plains area of Long Island, Devereux was asked to layout a course. That initial 9-hole design which opened in 1897 later became known as the 18-hole, Garden City Club. The course played host to the 8th US Open in 1902.
Many of the holes seen at The National Golf Links of America, his good friend, C.B. Macdonald’s masterpiece, came from sketches Devereux drew up. His ideas for those holes came from those trips to the UK with Macdonald.
Although he was very much an admirer of Macdonald’s work, Devereux had his own unique ideas on how courses should be designed. In a Golf Illustrated article he pointed out that he was no longer going to design holes that replicated the Redan (a hole that has a green which slopes downwards and away from the point of entrance), or an Eden (a hole with severe slopes from back to front and a plethora of bunkers). Both were very typical features of that era.
One of Devereux’s designs was McGregor Links Country Club in Saratoga Springs, New York. LPGA legend, Dottie Pepper, grew up and honed her game at McGregor Links.
“The course was a huge part of my development as a player," said 17 LPGA Tour winner, Dottie Petter. "It simply made me better because of its difficulty and the variety of shots required to play well there, regardless of the tees chosen. Fescue grasses, elevation changes, varying sizes of greens, and rugged bunkers all added to the challenge.”
Congressional Country Club
Devereux Emmet’s ultimate masterpieces may be the two courses at Congressional Country Club. The Blue Course has played host to all the significant championships contested at Congressional.
There have been several redesigns over the years on the Blue Course at Congressional. Robert Trent Jones made his mark on it in 1957 and his son, Rees Jones, placed his stamp on it twice, in 1989 and 2006. The Blue Course is one of the best 100 courses in the United States as named by Golfweek, Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and others. The course measures nearly 7,600 yards from the back tees and is all the golf you would ever want.
The PGA of America and Congressional Country Club
The PGA of America has committed to a strong and lasting partnership with Congressional. The landmark agreement will stretch for 15 years, from 2022 to 2036 and include:
KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (2022, ’27)
PGA Championship (2031)
KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship (2025, ’33)
Junior PGA Championship (Girls and Boys, 2024)
PGA Professional Championship (2029)
Ryder Cup (2036)
Congressional will also host an annual PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week.
“This partnership with Congressional Country Club and its membership is monumental in scope and stature, and we are excited to showcase the range of championships and events that the PGA of America has to offer." said John Easterbrook of PGA of America "We’re also looking forward to building a lasting relationship with the legions of knowledgeable golf fans from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and believe they will enjoy their time with us and marvel at the talents we will bring to Congressional in the coming years.”
Devereux Emmet’s legacy will live on and be on full display for many years to come thanks to this long-term partnership with the PGA of America. This is something Emmet surely would be very, very proud of.