Chicago Golf Club

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Chicago Golf Club
Club information
Chicago Golf Club is located in the US
Chicago Golf Club
Chicago Golf Club is located in Illinois
Chicago Golf Club
Coordinates41°50′56″N 88°06′58″W / 41.849°N 88.116°W / 41.849; -88.116Coordinates: 41°50′56″N 88°06′58″W / 41.849°N 88.116°W / 41.849; -88.116
LocationWheaton, Illinois, U.S.
Elevation750 feet (230 m)
Established1892; 126 years ago (1892)
Operated byJohn Guyton
Total holes18
Tournaments hostedU.S. Open:
(1897, 1900, 1911)
Walker Cup:
(1928, 2005)
Designed byCharles B. Macdonald
Length6,950 yards (6,355 m)
Course rating73.8
Slope rating137 [1]
Wheaton chicagogolf.jpg
Layout of course from space

Chicago Golf Club is a private golf club in the central United States, located in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. The oldest 18-hole course in North America, it was one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association (USGA) in 1894.

The club has hosted several prominent events, including multiple U.S. Opens and Walker Cups, and was founded by renowned course designer and World Golf Hall of Fame member Charles B. Macdonald. In July 2018, the club hosted the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, the newly created 14th USGA national championship.


Known as the Father of Golf in Chicago, Macdonald went to college in Scotland at the University of St Andrews,[2] where he learned to play the game. He brought back a set of clubs, and in early 1888, on the Lake Forest estate of a friend, C.B. Farwell, and his son-in-law, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, laid out seven informal golf holes on an interesting piece of lakefront property known as "Bluff's Edge." His group of friends were fascinated by the new game and demanded a course be built on a dedicated site. In late spring of 1892, Macdonald passed around a hat with his friends, who contributed $10 each for a total of two or three hundred dollars. Macdonald spent that money in laying out a nine-hole course, about 23 miles (37 km) west of Chicago's Union Station, on the stock farm of A. Haddow Smith at Belmont, located one block north of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad line. This was to become the first golf course built west of the Alleghenies, and second to Shinnecock Hills in Long Island, New York, which opened 12 holes in 1891.

With contacts in Scotland, Macdonald next cabled the Royal Liverpool Golf Club and ordered six sets of clubs. As soon as they arrived, his newfound associates were soon bitten by the golf bug.

The first American woman to win an Olympic event, Margaret Abbott, golfed at the Chicago Golf Club in the 1890s.[3]

In the spring of 1893, Macdonald wrote in his c. 1925 book Scotland's Gift – Golf, that he increased the number of holes at Belmont to 18, creating the first 18-hole golf course in North America. On July 18, 1893, the charter was granted for the Chicago Golf Club.

The club became so popular that, in 1894, the members bought a piece of property to build an improved 18-hole course. They purchased a 200-acre (0.81 km2) parcel of the Patrick farm in Wheaton, for a complete sum totaling $28,000, which became "a first class 18-hole course of 6,500 yards." The site was chosen because of its vast rolling hills covered with native grasses, which reminded Macdonald of Scotland.

Macdonald designed the links-style layout himself; since he was a chronic slicer, he routed the holes so that both nines would play in a clockwise fashion so that he would stay out of trouble. Once the private land adjacent to the course became developed, a new rule was needed for errant golf balls leaving the premises. The United States Golf Association Rule of Golf for "Out Of Bounds" (27-1) had its origin at Chicago Golf Club.

Ossian Cole Simonds was commissioned to design the landscape architecture for the course at the Wheaton property in 1894. [4] O.C. Simonds went on to do the landscape architecture for many famous Chicago properties including Lincoln Park, the Morton Arboretum and other golf courses including the Glen View Golf Club in 1897.

The Chicago clubhouse was designed by renowned Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt.[5][6]

Around 1902, the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad constructed an electrified third-rail railroad between the far western terminus of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad at 52nd Avenue (now Laramie Avenue) in Chicago, and the Fox River towns of Aurora and Elgin. The branch line splitting to Aurora from downtown Wheaton traveled just past the main entrance to Chicago Golf Club, where was built a splendid brick station. A large majority of the club members commuted from downtown Chicago, and on weekends and special occasions a luxuriously appointed wood-paneled club car with a well-stocked bar and linen tablecloth dinner service was employed to ferry golfers out to the Chicago Golf Club. At the club's station was a siding, where the club car was parked until it was needed for the evening return trip.

Macdonald also brought the Foulis brothers to Chicago from St Andrews, Scotland, to help grow the new game. The Foulis' father, James Foulis, Sr., worked as a foreman in the clubmaking shop of the legendary Old Tom Morris -- which was located across the street from the Old Course at St Andrews. Macdonald invited Robert Foulis (golfer)|Robert Foulis to be the first club professional at Chicago Golf, but, as he was already under contract at a separate club, he passed the offer to his brother, James Foulis, who became the golf professional at Chicago Golf in 1895; he had worked for both Old Tom Morris and clubmaker Robert Forgan.

In 1905, Jim was succeeded by his brother David Foulis,[7] who stayed at the Wheaton course until 1916. In addition to their skills as golf professionals, clubmakers and players, they were responsible for many innovations to the game of golf. They were first to apply the bramble (reverse-dimple) pattern on the cover of Coburn Haskell's new rubber-cored wound golf ball, and in response to the demands of the new ball developed the "mashie-niblick", the modern 7-iron, which fell between the traditional mashie (5-iron) and niblick (9-iron). Jim and Dave also designed many golf courses, most of which still exist today. While at Chicago Golf, Dave brought the metal hole-liner to the U.S. from Scotland and improved the design to hold the flagstick upright, even in the wind. Another brother, John, was a ballmaker and bookkeeper at the club until his death in 1907.

After the Chicago Golf Club vacated the Belmont location, Herbert J. Tweedie, a one-time member of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, formed the Belmont Golf Club, of which the charter was granted in 1899. By that time, however, the course was back to nine holes. The original site has remained a golf course through the years, passing through several owners, and now is owned and operated as a public facility by the Downers Grove Park District.

Chicago Golf Club is ranked the fifth-most exclusive in the world. There are only 120 members and it will never exceed this amount, the only way to get in is by invitation from a member.[citation needed]

Current members include Cleveland Golf founder Roger Cleveland, former ServiceMaster chief executive Jonathan P. Ward, actor Chris O'Donnell, former ServiceMaster vice chairman Charles Stair and former Amoco chairman H. Laurence Fuller. Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw is a non-resident member, and recently deceased members include radio great Paul Harvey and International Harvester scion Brooks McCormick. Club President Bob King (1990–1991) led the process which allowed African Americans and women to be admitted as members of the club. Chicago Golf Club admitted its first African-American member, Charles Thurston, in 1993. The club admitted its first female full member, Judith Whinfrey, in 2001.

(History collected from Chicagoland Golf magazine, April 1992, by Phil Kosin)


Hole Name Yards Par Hole Name Yards Par
1 Valley 450 4 10 Short 149 3
2 Road 481 4 11 Dogleg 410 4
3 Biarittz 219 3 12 Punchbowl 465 4
4 Long 549 5 13 Eden 181 3
5 Leven 365 4 14 Cape 356 4
6 Double Plateu 399 4 15 Ginger Beer 400 4
7 Redan 211 3 16 Raynor's Prize 530 5
8 Narrows 445 4 17 Maiden 467 4
9 Pond 448 4 18 Home 425 4
Out 3,567 35 In 3,383 35
Source:[8][9] Total 6,950 70


Notable events at Chicago Golf Club:

U.S. Open[edit]

U.S. Amateur[edit]

U.S. Women's Amateur[edit]

U.S. Senior Amateur[edit]

Walker Cup[edit]

  • 1928 United States 11, Great Britain & Ireland 1
  • 2005 United States 12½, Great Britain & Ireland 11½

Western Junior[edit]

  • 1992 John Curley

U.S. Women's Senior Open[edit]


  1. ^ "Course Rating and Slope Database™ - Chicago Golf Club". United States Golf Association. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Moore, Dan (December 21, 2017). "Macdonald's Architectural Genius Shines at Chicago G.C." United States Golf Association. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  3. ^ Holmes, Tao Tao (10 August 2016). "The First American Woman to Win an Olympic Championship Didn't Even Know It". Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-06-27.
  5. ^ "Jarvis Hunt". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  6. ^ "Jarvis Hunt, architect". University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  7. ^ David Foulis
  8. ^ "Inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship: Fact Sheet". United States Golf Association. September 6, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Scorecard" (PDF). Chicago Golf Club. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship to debut in 2018". United States Golf Association. February 6, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2018.

External links[edit]