Foxburg CC, near Clarion, opened in 1887
A mere two-hour drive northwest of Blair County lies a little treasure of American golf history – Foxburg Country Club, the oldest golf course in continuous use in the United States.
Located near the tiny Clarion County village of Foxburg and nestled in the woodlands along the mighty Allegheny River, this nine-hole golf course has been open for play ever since its inception in 1887.
It all started in the mid-1880s, when Joseph Mickle Fox, great grandson of Foxburg founder Samuel Fox, traveled to the home of golf, Scotland’s St. Andrew’s links course, where, by chance, he met one of golf’s most famous professionals, Tom Morris.
Fox befriended the old Scottish pro and soon fell in love with the game. He eventually purchased a supply of golf clubs and balls from Morris to bring back home with him to Foxburg, where he would lay out a rudimentary course for friends and family.
Because of the oil boom in Pennsylvania’s northwest region at that time, there was no lack of successful businessmen in the area interested in learning the game. A formal course was laid out in 1887. It became popular among locals and has remained virtually unchanged to this day.
“There have only been a few modifications to the original design,” club manager Mike Gardner said. “Some new tees were built over the years, and a pond was added to the fifth hole.”
The greens at this historic course are small and circular – representative of early course design – and are in pristine condition, running fast and smooth.
“The guys who maintain our course today do a fantastic job,” Gardner said.
At just nine holes, the course offers two sets of tees which can be played over 18 holes to a total of 5,219 yards and a par of 68.
The club’s charm and history extends beyond its fairways and greens to its clubhouse – an arts and crafts style log structure that dates back to 1912. In addition to a pro shop and lounge, the clubhouse is home to an extensive collection of historic golf equipment – part of the American Golf Hall of Fame, located on the second floor and open to the public at free admission.
Many people don’t realize the Foxburg Country Club is a public golf course. The club offers annual memberships but is open for daily greens-fee play as well. It’s become a destination for golfers from all parts of the country interested in golf history.
Every August, the club hosts its annual National Hickory Tournament. Entrants are required to use equipment similar to what was used in the 1800s – hickory-shafted clubs and “gutta-percha” golf balls. Golfers are also dressed in vintage clothes – long-sleeved white shirts, ties and knickers.
“It’s our most popular event of the year,” Gardner said. “We have golfers from all over the country who come to compete.”
Whether you use hickory clubs or not, a visit to this old course, situated in a grove of ancient oak trees, is like stepping back in time. It is a must see for all golf enthusiasts.
The Foxburg Country Club was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.