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The First US Golf Course

Where was the original golf course in the United States? This is still an issue of debate. Several golf historians declare that the first golf course and membership club was in South Carolina. However, there is another government record that mentions playing golf near Albany, New York in early 1659. It depends on whether you would consider casually playing golf or an organized club should be recognized as the official beginning.

Yet, the first location of the original 18-hole course is fairly conclusive. The 18-hole golf course was built close to Chicago in the year 1893. This existed long enough to be officially recorded and gain enough fame to be remembered by historians, Chicago residents and avid golf players. Though very popular, this golf course was short lived.

Soon, a permanent golf club gave the Chicago record some competition, however. While still located in North America, this golf course was actually made outside the United States in Canada.

Today, some would count the number of golf courses in the United States as being equal to all the golf courses in the rest of the world combined.

So, who decides what counts as an official golf course?

There are two organizations that make the majority of the decisions concerning golf courses and how they are to be constructed for competition play. These are also, the same organizations that make most of the decisions on the rules of golf as well.

For both golf courses and the rules of golf all over the world, except for the United States and Mexico, the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club) governs. In the United States and Mexico the USGA (United States Golf Association) has control.

What is considered the proper length of a golf course?

Even though a golf course may be practically any length, since golf, different than most other sports, does not employ standard sizes of a playing field or court. Considering the various local landscapes around the United States and as well in the world, it may be impractical to try to confine a specific length or dimension since every area has a unique elevation and soil.

Still. to keep a golf course enjoyable and challenging, the R&A, the USGA, and the golf course constructors attempt to keep the courses from being too long or too short. Ultimately, Mother Nature has the final say where natural environment greatly affects how long a course will be and the level of difficulty the surface will bring to the golfers.