It’s hard to believe 2017 is almost a quarter finished, but here we are. If you have yet to get your golf travels underway for the year, time’s a-wasting!
Speaking of time, as we welcome springtime, we wanted to get you a quick list of some courses celebrating centenary (and other milestone) anniversaries this year:
French Lick Resort (Ross Course) – French Lick, Ind.
French Lick is one of the Midwest’s best places for golf, as well as gambling, with two complimentary courses in the ultra-modern Pete Dye Course and the traditional Ross Course. To celebrate the latter’s 100th anniversary, the resort is offering just a 100 special packages that will give golfers a night’s accommodations, breakfast and two days of unlimited golf and a “limited-edition collectible gift with a retail value of $299” starting at $399 per person. Not a bad deal.
Mission Inn Resort & Golf Club (El Campeon) – Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
Contrary to popular belief, Florida’s golf courses are not all flat, condo-lined affairs – not by a long shot. Indeed, one of the state’s oldest courses has resisted that stereotype for 100 years now. Visitors to El Campeon, about 40 minutes northwest of Orlando, will encounter elevation changes of more than 80 feet throughout the course, which was originally designed by George O’Neil. To celebrate the anniversary, Mission Inn is offering special stay-and-play packages throughout 2017.
Fort Myers Country Club – Fort Myers, Fla.
El Campeon is not the Sunshine State’s only course celebrating its centennial anniversary this year. This course dates back to 1917, when the Donald Ross-designed layout opened for play. Recent decades saw something of a decline, until Steve Smyers breathed new life into the course, now owned by the City of Fort Myers, a couple years ago.
Winnetka Golf Club – Winnetka, Ill.
The North Shore-area Chicago suburb of Winnetka is surrounded by many of the Windy City’s best private clubs, but WGC is for the people. Originally laid out as nine holes in 1917 by William Langford, Winnetka Golf Club has improved considerably with age, receiving a comprehensive renovation in 2007 by Rick Jacobson, which has made it one of Illinois’ best public courses. The course’s overseers are in the midst of commemorating the anniversary by assembling a historical timeline of the course and property.
Galen Hall Golf Course – Wernersville, Penn.
Some Golden Age golf course architects’ work is easier to find than others, at least in the public realm. While there are dozens of Donald Ross courses open to the public, most of the greatest A.W. Tillinghast layouts are very private – Winged Foot, Baltimore Country Club, Somerset Hills (which itself turns 100 this year) and others. That’s what makes Galen Hall, near Reading, which Tillinghast expanded to 18 holes in 1917, a rarity worth seeking out. What’s more, the quirky layout has a specific claim to fame: its “Moat Hole,” number 15, is a precursor (by more than half a century) to TPC Sawgrass’ famous island green hole.
Manchester Country Club – Manchester, Conn.
What’s rarer than a public-accessible course designed by A.W. Tillinghast? How about a public course with ties not only to Tillinghast but also two other Golden Age architects in Tom Bendelow and Devereux Emmet? Manchester Country Club, just east of Hartford, is a supremely under-the-radar public course that, at only 6,400 yards from the tips, punches well above its weight, with a number of diabolical greens capped off by a tiny, two-tiered affair on the long par-3 18th. Tillinghast’s influence came a few years after the course’s 1917 debut, and the mix of influences makes the course a unique find for golf design history buffs.
The Gleneagles Hotel (Queen’s Course) – Auchterarder, Scotland
No, it’s not the PGA Centenary Course, which hosted the 2014 Ryder Cup…it’s better, according to golf purists. Opened in 1917 and designed by James Braid, the Queen’s Course – as well as the two-years-younger King’s Course – is regarded by purists as a much more authentic Scottish golf experience than the more American-style Centenary.
On the private side…
It turns out 1917 was a pretty big year for the opening of private courses as well. In addition to the aforementioned Somerset Hills Country Club, here are some other notable 1917 private course openings. Should you be invited to play any of these this year, don’t pass up the chance:
- Bob O’Link Golf Club – Highland Park, Ill.; Harry Colt & Charles Alison
- Country Club of Pittsfield – Pittsfield, Mass.; Donald Ross
- Evanston Golf Club – Evanston, Ill.; Donald Ross
- Essex County Country Club – West Orange, N.J.; A.W. Tillinghast, Seth Raynor, Charles Banks
- Kahkwa Club – Erie, Penn.; Donald Ross
- Oakland Hills Country Club (South Course) – Oakland Hills, Mich.; Donald Ross
- Palm Beach Country Club – Palm Beach, Fla.; Donald Ross
- St. George’s Golf & Country Club – East Setauket, N.Y.; Devereux Emmet
- Wheatley Hills Golf Club (current course) – East Williston, N.Y.; Devereux Emmet
Will you be playing any of these courses in their centenary years? Have any others to alert us and your fellow golf nuts about? Let us know below in the comments!