Golf History: Oldest Course in United States Turns 130

The oldest 18-hole course in the United States turned 130 this week, an important milestone in golf history. It’s definitely a testament to the longevity of our great sport.

The Dorset Field Club in Vermont, the oldest 18-hole course in America, turned 130 years old this week, achieving a special milestone in golf history. The course didn’t become an 18-holer until 2000, according to Golf Digest, but now that it is, it is the oldest full course in the land thanks to the previous nine.

The United States’ oldest course overall is the legendary Oakhurst Links at the Greenbrier, a nine-hole track. Dorset Field is a private club that features seven tennis courts and features golf and tennis lessons for schools and groups.

One of the distinctive features of the course at Dorset Field is how short it is. The first hole, a par-4, is 370 yards from the back tees and would be driveable for some PGA Tour pros.

The ninth hole is even shorter, with a yardage of 303 yards from the back tees. Most of the course is pretty light on bunkers, but once you reach the final four holes, you’ll start to see the many wonderful beaches Dorset Field has to offer.

The par-4 14th may be the most deadly, with bunkers surrounding the green. When hitting your approach shot, you have to find the Henrik Stenson in you and nail the green.

Chicago Golf Club is the longest continuously running 18-hole course in America, having been designed in 1892. However, CGC is an ultra-private club, and most players will never have the chance to experience it.

Dorset Field Club is also a private club, but it is much more accessible. If DFC were still a nine-hole course, then it would not be the oldest club in the U.S.

Nonetheless, Oakhurst is still the pinnacle of nostalgic golf in the U.S., being the all-around oldest course in the country. The traditions at Oakhurst are so strong that players are required to use hickory clubs when playing the gem.

It’s still great to celebrate 130 long years of Dorset Field, a gem in its own right. Just to think that a golf course has been around that long in this country is remarkable.

Not to mention the fact that some courses in Scotland, such as Musselburgh Links and the Old Course at St Andrews, are over 400 years old. I think the age of courses like Dorset Field are a testament to how great a shape golf is in.

Certainly, there are issues, as there are in every sport sport, and the obvious answer for me would be to promote the play of nine-hole courses and other short tracks. However, the unbelievable longevity of places like Dorset Field and Oakhurst is something to feel good about as a golfer.

The most beautiful thing about golf is the rich history of the stick-and-ball game. There’s nothing that comes close. Happy 130th to you, DFC.

What’s the oldest course you’ve ever played on? Tell us your story in the comments, or you can hit me up on Twitter @ChiGolfRadio. Be sure to stay with Pro Golf Now for more golf history posts.

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