The Oldest Golf Courses In America

St. Andrews is known around the world as ‘The Home of Golf’. The place where it all began. Any golfer that claims they are ‘serious’ in any way about the sport has some desire to tee it up at the old course.

We love St. Andrews because of how much history the course holds.

Whenever The Open Championship is held at St. Andrews we are reminded of the triumphs such as Tigers unstoppable performance in 2001. We are also reminded of the pitfalls that some of our favorites fell into, eliminating their chances at winning golfs most elusive title.

One thing is clear though – the golfers love the history that the course holds. 

What Are The Oldest Golf Courses In The US?

While we know where the home of golf ultimately is, have you ever asked yourself “Where is the home of golf… in the United States?”

The home of golf is Scotland, the rugged northern country on the British Isles. With a rich golfing history that dates back to the 15th century, Scotland’s natural features make it an ideal place for the sport with its rolling hills, deep glens, and rocky shorelines providing an unparalleled backdrop. The birthplace of golf has yielded some of the most iconic courses and moments in golfing history.

Golf first made its way to the United States in the late 19th century, when Scottish immigrants brought their beloved sport across the Atlantic. At the time, an American-born golfer named Charles Blair Macdonald founded the first 18-hole golf course on Long Island. This course was considered to be the first true golf course in America, and it set the precedent for hundreds of courses that were built in the United States in the coming decades.

I am not going to list the 100 oldest golf courses in America, but here are the 10 oldest running golf courses in the United States:

  1. Oakhurst Golf Club (1884)
  2. Dorset Field Club (1886)
  3. Foxburg Country Club (1887)
  4. Quogue Field Club (1887)
  5. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (1891)
  6. Downers Grove Golf Club (1892)
  7. The Country Club (1893)
  8. Newport Country Club (1893)
  9. Chicago Golf Club (1895)
  10. Saint Andrews Golf Club (1897)

*Bolded courses are members of the five founding clubs created by the USGA

**The Savannah Golf Club was not included as this post is about the oldest courses. SGC holds the title of the oldest golf CLUB – but not the oldest golf COURSE.

What Are The Founding Five?

The “Founding Five” golf clubs are five clubs that in 1894, decided to create the United States Golf Association (USGA). These clubs are: 

  1. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (1891)
  2. The Country Club (1893)
  3. Newport Country Club (1893)
  4. Chicago Golf Club (1895)
  5. Saint Andrews Golf Club (1897)

In the early 1890’s there was talk of having a national amateur golf championship. Both the Newport Country Club and Saint Andrews Golf Club wanted to be the first to hold a national championship. In 1894 both of the clubs held what they called “national amateur championships”.

Since they both had a national championship – neither could hold THE national championship. Not even the two winners knew what championship was the true US Am. Because of this dispute, the USGA was created.

The following year Charles B. Macdonald (the architect of Downers Grove and Chicago Golf Club) won the first, official U.S. Amateur Championship, played at Newport Country Club.

Almost all of the members of the Founding Five have held some sort of prestigious tournament at one point or another.

Oakhurst Golf Club (1884)- Oldest Golf Course in US

  • Located: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Course Architect: Russell Montague
  • Number of Holes: 9 Holes
  • Open To The Public: Yes, Hickory Play Only
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: No

Oakhurst Golf Course is the first golf course in America.

The Oakhurst Golf Club is known as “the first organized golf club in the United States.” The Links course was mapped out in 1884 by Russell Montague. The first recorded match in didn’t come until 1888.

The course closed in 1912 but was revived in 1994. The hickory course has staged the US National Hickory Championship.

While Oakhurst is the oldest organized golf club – it is not the oldest operating golf course. This nine hole course is beautiful and pure.

A few years ago the Greenbriar resort took over the golf course and promised to preserve it.  

 This course is open to hickory play only.

Dorset Field Club (1886)

  • Located: Dorset, Vermont
  • Course Architect: Arvin Harrington & Frank Holley
  • Number of Holes: 18 Holes
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: 4th – 2020

Dorset Field Club makes a good argument as “The Oldest Continuously Operating Golf Course”. The 9 hole golf course was laid out 1886 by Arvin Harrington & Frank Holley. They initially named the course “Dorset Filed Links”, but changed the name in 1896 when the clubhouse was built. 

The course was lengthened and altered throughout the years. The most significant change was in 1999 when the course added 9 holes and became an 18 hole course.

Ranked in the top 5 courses in Vermont – this club is private. Which is extremely unfortunate for the average Joe’s who would want to play this immaculate, historic golf course.

Foxburg Country Club (1887)

  • Located: Foxburg, Pennsylvania
  • Course Architect: Joseph Mickle Fox
  • Number of Holes: 9 Holes
  • Open To The Public: Yes
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: No

Foxburg Country Club is argued to be the oldest golf club in America. The founder, Joseph Mickle Fox, learned how to golf in Scotland and brought his hobby back to the states.

After returning home he created a small 8-hole golf course that quickly gained popularity. In 1887 he added more holes and opened to the public. Local legend has it that Fox tried to design the course in Foxburg after the Old Course at St. Andrews.

The course is a par of 68 and decently short, only 5,200 yards. Because of how short the course is, it is commonly walked with push carts.

This course is open to the public.

Quogue Field Club (1887)

  • Located: Quogue, New York
  • Course Architect: James Hepburn & R.B. Wilson
  • Number of Holes: 9 holes
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: No

The Quogue Field Club was first mapped out in 1887. The 9 hole design was damaged in 1938 by a hurricane that took 3 – 9 of the holes (not entirely sure how many holes were lost). Today the course plays at an odd par 74 at 6400 yards from the tips. 

This beautiful course is located just a stones throw from Shinnecock Hills, Friar’s Head and the National Golf Links of America – all included in the top courses of New York State.

However, just like this private course is inclusive of the public – this private is also not included in the top golf courses of New York State!

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (1891)

  • Located: Long Island, New York
  • Course Architect: Willie Davis & Willie Dunn
  • Number of Holes: 18 Holes
  • Open To The Public: Not a chance
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: 1st – 2020 (4th in all of US)

Shinnecock Hills was laid out in 1891. The course’s first 12 holes were mapped out by Willie Davis. Willie Dunn later added 6 holes in 1894 to make this an 18-hole course. The course has held five US opens, most recently in 2018. The course is scheduled to hold the 2026 US open as well.

Shinnecock Hills is considered by most to bee one of the top 10 golf courses in the wold. Everything is pristine, down to the last detail. Trying to get onto this course is nearly as difficult as getting onto Augusta National. 

Even though course is packed with history and consistently makes it into Golf Digest Top 10 Courses in the United states, it is private and closed to the general public.

Downers Grove Golf Club (1892)

  • Located: Downers Grove, IL
  • Course Architect: C.B. Macdonald
  • Number of Holes: 9 Holes
  • Open To The Public: Yes
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: No

Downers Grove Golf Course is located in a suburb of Chicago. The original location of The Chicago Golf Club, this 9 hole golf course is pure class.

It’s not hard to tell why C.B. Macdonald chose this land to build a course on. Everything about the grounds are pure. Local legend is that holes 2, 4, 7 – 9 are unchanged.

The amount of trees make this course difficult to navigate. However, this course is still a blast to play and every golfer should play this course to experience the early course architecture.

If you are ever in the Chicago land area, you should check out Downers Grover Golf Club. The course is just designed to have fun.

The Country Club (1893)

  • Located: Brookline, MA
  • Course Architect: Willie Campbell
  • Number of Holes: ABCD
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: 18th in all US Courses

The Country Club was mapped out by Willie Campbell in 1893. This courses and it’s facilities are top notch.

This course is fair share of prestigious tournaments. Donald Ross won his first Massachusetts Amateur in 1911. Other tournaments such as the U.S. Amateur and the 1999 Ryder Cup have been hosted at this fantastic course. In 2020 the course plans to hold the U.S. Open.

As its name suggests – they claim to be the oldest country club in America. This course is also one of the Founding Five golf courses of the USGA.

Despite being apart of the USGA, holding multiple prestigious tournaments and being recognized as one of the best golf courses in America – this course is private and not open to the public.

Newport Country Club (1893)

  • Located: Newport, RI
  • Course Architect: William Davis
  • Number of Holes: 18 Holes
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: 1st – 2020

Newport Country Club is one of the founding members of the USGA. This 18 hole golf course is one of the most beautiful courses we have ever seen. The course plays similar to how it did when it was first built. 

Laid out by William Davis the 9 hole course held the first U.S. Amateur AND the first U.S. Open. This course plans to hold the U.S. Senior open in 2020. 

As much history as this course holds, it is notoriously private. The club doesn’t even have a website.

Chicago Golf Club (1895)

  • Located: Wheaton, IL
  • Course Architect: C.B. Macdonald
  • Number of Holes: 18 Holes
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: 1st – 2020

What is the oldest golf course in the United States? The Chicago Golf Club, founded in 1894, is the oldest golf course in the United States. It’s also the oldest golf club in North America.

The Chicago Golf Club was founded by Charles Blair Macdonald who would play golf on 7 holes on one of his friends properties.

With their encouragement, he mapped out a 9 hole golf courses just west of the city of Chicago.

In 1893 he added 9 more holes to the property. With the games increasing popularity the club decided to buy some land in Wheaton, IL and build a 6,500 yard course. This is where the club currently resides. 

After moving, the old 18 hole course was reverted to 9 holes. The new club was the Downers Grove Golf Club! Local legend says that holes 2, 4, 7 – 9 have not been changed in 110 years.

Unfortunately, The Chicago Golf Club is private and notoriously difficult to get on.

Saint Andrews Golf Club (1897)

  • Located: Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
  • Course Architect: Harry Tallmadge &William H Tucker
  • Number of Holes: 18 Holes
  • Open To The Public: No
  • Golf Digest Top Course In Sate: No

The youngest course of the ‘Founding Five’ golf courses, Saint Andrews Golf Club claims it is the oldest golf course in America.

The club was founded in 1888 on a three hole design. The club was moved to a 9 hole course in 1897, where it resides now. The Course added 9 more holes not too long after moving.

This course is beautiful from every angel. Playing at a sizable 6600 yards – this course is nothing to scoff at. 

However, you and I most likely won’t have a chance to play this course as it is private and closed to the public.

Closing Thoughts on The Oldest Golf Courses In America

The oldest golf courses in America are a testament to the longevity and popularity of this beloved game. Whether you’re looking for an enjoyable round or just some scenic sights, there’s something special about playing on one of these time-honored grounds. It’s no wonder why they remain such a popular destination today. With their timeless beauty and classic charm, it’s easy to see why they’ve stood the test of time.

Die-hard baseball fans try to go to all of the old historic baseball stadiums. Football fans do the same. It’s somewhat sad to me that we golfers aren’t really able to achieve the same experience.

Four of these 10 courses are ranked in the top 100 courses in the US. For a game with so much history, it’s a fantastic waste to me.

Golf is a game that should be grown. It’s a wonderful sport!

Super private clubs aren’t really helpful to that initiative. You can 100% disagree with me, however, courses over in Europe have adapted to the semi-private course structure and it seems to be working.

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