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History

The Club was incorporated as the Washington Golf Club on January 1, 1894, although evidence exists that it was organized over a year earlier in December 1892.

Members of the Metropolitan Club headed by Col. Henry May (the first President of Washington Golf Club and 1897 U.S.G.A. committee member), Edward F. Riggs (Riggs Bank) and Sir Julian Pauncefote (the first British Ambassador), were among the prominent Washingtonians who founded the club. The first course, a nine-hole layout believed to have been designed by Alexander R. Campbell and laid out by Col. May, as well as a renovated makeshift clubhouse were located on land once owned by the Hoover and Ross families.  There was also a smaller ladies links built for play.  The location was near the present Colonial Village Apartments on Wilson Boulevard, in the area known as Arlington Heights in Alexandria (now Arlington) County, VA. Although there were plans for adding nine additional holes, it appears they were never built. Play was on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the golfing season, which was May through October. Most members lived in Washington, DC so an omnibus transported the golfers from the city to the Rosslyn, VA site. The club’s lease was terminated on the property in 1907 and a group of the members searched for a new location for the club.

The majority of the present land was purchased from Rear Admiral Presley Marion Rixey (Surgeon General of the Navy and White House physician to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt). The club reorganized on March 7, 1908 with Alonzo Colt Yates as president.  The following year, nine holes were laid out by the Admiral and his personal laborers on the 75 acres and a temporary clubhouse was erected. The next year another nine holes were added and a permanent clubhouse was built. Shortly after, Donald Ross was hired to redesign the golf course and some of those holes remaining today. The club’s name was changed to Washington Country Club and was retained until 1915 when the club was incorporated in Virginia and became the Washington Golf and Country Club. An additional 40 acres were purchased (the Grunwell Tract) in 1919 and from a 1923 newspaper article we learned a new course was remarkably designed by Walter J. Travis, Hugh Wilson and William Flynn, then developed by Toomey and Flynn. The new layout was opened for play in 1922.

These were the years the club became known as the “Chosen Playground of Presidents”. Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, and Calvin Coolidge were all members and Taft, Wilson and Harding were active golfing members at the club.

A fire destroyed the current location’s original clubhouse on September 15, 1936, however, a new one rose out of the ashes the following year and was dedicated on October 14, 1937. Another new clubhouse was built in 1958 and about that time the course architect firm Findlay & Loving made some major changes to certain golf holes.  The current clubhouse was built in 2006 and has served the membership ever since.  In 2020, architect Tom Doak completed the first major renovation of the golf course since 1922. The club is considered the oldest golf club in Virginia and the ninth to join the U.S.G.A.