A Look at America's Oldest Golf Courses
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
The Country Club, located in Brookline, Massachusetts, is the oldest country club in the United States and hosted the 33rd Ryder Cup in 1999.
The more you research the topic “oldest golf courses” in America, the more you’ll find several claims of who holds the crown as oldest course where golf is still being played today.
The game has no real source to define, in any uncertain terms, who is indeed the oldest. A sticking point to many in defining which course is actually the oldest is the idea of a course being in the same location and in the same general layout as it was when it was founded.
Rather than give you a list, in an order that eventually crowns one course as the “oldest” in America, that you can still play today, here’s a glimpse, in no particular order, of America’s oldest courses where golf is still played today…
Quogue Field Club, Quogue, New York (Course 1901 – Club Established in 1887)
The Quogue Field Club is a private golf course which dates back to 1901. The club itself, prior to golf being played, dates back to 1887. Like is the case for many “old” courses in America, rough initial layouts, some with only a handful of holes spread across private land, can be found in the history of a Club. That is the case for the Quogue Field Club. It is said that a rough 9-hole course was laid out in 1896 by RB Wilson, who was the Head Golf Professional at nearby 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 President, Arvin Harrington, laid out a nine-hole course. Over the years, the course has had five significant alterations, with length added as well as holes. In 1999 it became an 18-hole facility. With no real criteria in place to signify which course in the annals of American golf history is actually the oldest in the United States, some say Dorset Field Club takes the prize. Golf has indeed been played on property continuously since 1886, however, as mentioned, significant alterations have been made from the original layout from that time. The clubhouse at Dorset Field Club has been in use since 1896 and is believed to be the second oldest standing clubhouse after the clubhouse of The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Foxburg Country Club, Foxburg, Pennsylvania (1887)
This nine-hole gem may be the closest to staking an official claim as being 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 layout as it was originally set by its founder.
In 1874 Joseph Mickle Fox traveled to England with the All-American Cricket Team to participate in a series of cricket matches. One of the matches was scheduled in Edinburgh, Scotland. Following that match, Fox went to St. Andrews to see the game of golf being played at the home of golf.
While at St. Andrews, Fox was befriended by Old Tom Morris. Old Tom taught Fox the fundamentals of the game and sold him a set of golf clubs and gutta-percha balls to take back to America.
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 golf history, as it is one of the five charter 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). In addition, The Country Club hosted the Ryder Cup in 1999.
The 1913 U.S. Open won by then-unknown Francis Ouimet, is seen by many golf historians as an event that changed the course of the game forever in the United States.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, NY (1891)
Shinnecock Hills was established in 1891. It is said to have the oldest golf clubhouse in the U.S. (1892), and to have been the first American golf club to admit women members, which it did 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 host the U.S. Open in three different centuries.
The Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Illinois (1892)
Founded by renowned course designer and World Golf Hall of Fame member Charles B. Macdonald, Chicago Golf Club is the oldest 18-hole course in North America. 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 that Championship.
Newport Country Club, Newport, Rhode Island (1893)
Founded 129 years ago in 1893, Newport Country Club holds the distinction of hosting both the first U.S. Amateur Championship and the first US Open in 1895. Theodore Havemeyer, the founder of the Newport Country Club, played golf on a trip to France in 1889. Upon returning to his summer home in Newport, he began planning what later became The Newport Country Club. Anxious to host national tournaments, Havemeyer invited the country’s best amateurs to his new course for a championship in 1894, that 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 slated to host the US Senior Open, but after the pandemic forced its cancellation, the event was moved to 2024.
The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club, Yonkers, NY (1888)
Founded in 1888 by John Reid, The St. Andrews Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in the United States. The club’s current site, it’s home since 1897, features an 18-hole golf course designed by golf course architects William H. Tucker and Harry Tallmadge. In 1983, Jack Nicklaus refurbished The St. Andrews Golf Club. History speaks of “The Apple Tree Gang” led by Reid, as a group of friends that took an armful of clubs, and some gutta percha balls to a pasture in Yonkers for a friendly round.
Oakhurst Links, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, (Originally layout, 1884)
Oakhurst Links was a nine-hole course that was laid out in 1884. The first competition at Oakhurst was held in 1888. Located on the grounds is course developer Russell W. Montague’s home, which served as the Oakhurst Links Clubhouse. The clubhouse itself was built around 1880, however I was unable to verify an actual date. The 9-hole course saw golf played on it up until 1912, at which point it reverted to pastureland. Eventually, the land was purchased by Lewis Keller to raise his racehorses. Keller often played golf with Sam Snead, who was the resident playing professional at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur 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 bring Oakhurst Links back to its former glory.