Chicago Golf Club

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Chicago Golf Club is a private golf club in Wheaton, Illinois, in the United States. It is the oldest 18-hole course in North America and was one of the five clubs which founded the United States Golf Association in 1894. Its founder, Charles B. Macdonald, won the first official U.S. Amateur Championship in 1895.

Macdonald, known as the Father of Golf in Chicago, went to college in Scotland, 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.

Macdonald, who still had contacts in Scotland, 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. 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 then-considerable sum of $28,000, which became “a first class 18-hole course of 6,500 yards.” The site was chosen for its 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 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.


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