History of Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields Country Club is an enduring monument to the Golden Age of American Golf
A storied era when leading industrialists teamed with legendary architects - including Ross, Tillinghast, McKenzie, Park and Bendelow - to fashion from incomparable native landscapes what would become known as America's crown jewels of golf.
This was the age that created Baltusrol and Winged Foot, Seminole and Oakland Hills, Cypress Point and Medinah. But if the Golden Age is best known for its industry and bold ambition, then there are few testaments to the Golden Age equal to Olympia Fields.
Founded in 1915, by 1925 the club boasted four 18-hole courses and the largest private clubhouse in the world with an 80-foot, four faced clock tower visible to golfers from all four first tees. The grandeur of Olympia Fields was remarkable even to Herbert Warren Wind, America's leading golf historian, who, in his landmark work, the Story of American Golf, marveled at this unparalleled expression of the spirit of the Golden Age:
Bigger and better went up all over the country. But Olympia Fields was the daddy of them all. Conceived in 1914, this gargantuan retreat in the woods below Chicago was at length completed in 1925. "The world's largest private golf club" was the first to offer its members seventy-two holes of golf. (Over a thousand caddies were enrolled.) The clubhouse was a liberal translation of English Tudor with a dining room that seated eight hundred, a cafe seating six hundred, only one outdoor dancing pavilion but five hundred feet of veranda. The club operated its own ice-making plant and its own hospital. One hundred families owned cottages in the dells of the club's 692 acres. Through some oversight, Olympia Fields never made provisions for its own college and major league baseball team, but it was possible to live your life out there if your wants were not exotic.
Today, the English Tudor clubhouse and its regal clock tower, are daily reminders of the club's Olympia beginnings even as the club's acreage and membership - including the number of private cottages - have adjusted to more contemporary proportions. Although the men's grill retains the name "73rd Hole," golf is now played over two nationally-ranked masterpieces - the North Course (Willie Park Jr.) and the South Course (Tom Bendelow) - whose championship traditions place Olympia Fields in a small coterie of the nation's leading golf clubs.
In 2015, the tradition continued with the playing of the 115th United States Amateur Championship, after which Olympia Fields will join only eight other American clubs - including Winged Foot, Oakland Hills and Cherry Hills - that have hosted the United States Open Championship (1928, 2003) the United States Senior Open Championship (1997), the PGA Championship (1925, 1961) and the United States Amateur Championship (2015).
In 2017, the club will host the KPMG PGA Women's Championship.