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Throwback Thursday: The Start of a Rich Golf History

This week in 1941, Cornell University opened the very first golf course on campus in school history. Renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones ‘30 designed the then nine-hole course, which officially opened April 15. Jones was a student at Cornell where he combined a variety of agriculture, architecture, and business classes to effectively create the country’s first golf architecture program.

Just one month after the grand opening, the Big Red played its first match at the course on May 14, 1941 against Syracuse. The program actually began in 1910, but the group had to pay for its own expenses and was considered only a “pick up team.” Despite this fact, Cornell always fielded a squad with the exception of the years during World War I. Before this time, the Big Red played its matches at the Country Club of Ithaca. Several years later, in 1954, an additional nine holes were built, and Cornell had a full 18-hole course to play.

Over its 116-year history, the Big Red has accumulated a total overall record of 193-153-10, yet has never won an Ivy League championship. However, Cornell did place first in the Eastern Intercollegiate Golf Association in 1946, which preceded the current Ivy League. The team has won several invitational tournament titles, including the 1979-80 Rochester Invitational and the 2007-08 Delaware Scotty Duncan Memorial and Big 5 Invitational.

Meanwhile, individual golfers have experienced continued success throughout the program’s history, as the Big Red has produced nine first team All-Ivy selections and three second team All-Ivy winners on top of five Academic All-Ivy recipients. Cornell also boasts two Ivy League individual tournament champions.

This rich history of achievement stems largely from the opening of the onsite golf course nearly 75 years ago. The Robert Trent Jones Course has hosted many significant tournaments since its creation, including the Eastern Intercollegiate Golf Association Championship, the New York State High School Championship, the Ivy League Championship, and the 1961 USGA National Junior Championship.


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