Golf Course

Popular throughout the United States, golf originated in Scotland before the fifteenth century, where it was played on undulating, sandy, seaside terrain known as links. Links courses were first built on narrow strips of land and tended to follow an out-and-back routing: the front nine would extend in a string away from the clubhouse, and the back nine would return along a roughly parallel string. The onset of “golf architecture” began around 1837 when Sir Andrew Playfair, provost of St. Andrews, directed clubmaker and professional golfer Allan Robertson to upgrade The Old Course, already 300 years old. The two earliest American courses, the South Carolina Golf Club and the Savannah Golf Club, founded in 1786 and 1795, respectively, had both disappeared by 1811. Oakhurst Links in White Sulphur Springs, West Virgnia, was founded in 1884, but went out of existence from 1910 until its restoration in 1994. The oldest continuously operating club in the United States is Foxburgh Country Club, near Pittsburgh, founded in 1887. Fewer than 50 courses existed in America at the time of the U.S.G.A.’s founding in 1894, but by 1900 there were more than 1,000 courses, although all but a handful were primitive by today’s standards. Evolving designs reflected changes in the sport, in construction practices, and maintenance equipment.