Oakhurst Links, near White Sulphur Springs, was the first organized golf club and course in America. It was founded in 1884 at Oakhurst, the estate of Russell Montague, who had moved from Boston to Greenbrier County in 1878. Montague was joined in founding the club by George Grant, a retired British army officer; Alexander and Roderick MacLeod from Scotland; and Lionel Torrin, who was the owner of a tea plantation in India, avid golfer, and regular summer visitor. Frazer Corron, a local carpenter, made golf clubs for the club members.
The nine-hole course was played for about 15 years by the club, but as members aged or moved, the course gradually fell into disuse. Nonetheless, Oakhurst helped to establish golf in America. It was the home of the first regularly played tournament in the U.S., with the 1888 Challenge Medal as trophy; Montague was the first winner. The original medal and one replica are now at Oakhurst, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lewis Keller Sr. purchased the property from Russell Montague’s son, the Rev. Cary Montague, in 1959 and restored the course for play in 1994. Oakhurst Links became a living museum course, open to the public. Visitors played 1884-era golf with reproduction equipment, including clubs made of hickory. The National Hickory Championship was held at Oakhurst for 15 years, beginning in 1998. In 2001, Oakhurst Links was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2012, the Greenbrier resort, also in White Sulphur Springs, purchased Oakhurt Links. The owner of the Greenbrier, Jim Justice, said he planned to keep the nine-hole course intact.
Oakhurst estate was the home of writer Margaret Prescott Montague, the daughter of Russell Montague.
Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination.
This Article was written by Martha J. Asbury
Last Revised on January 25, 2013
Asbury, Martha J. Oakhurst Links: A Romance with Golf. Wonderful West Virginia, (Jan. 1998).
Bedell, Tom. Time Travel at Oakhurst Links. Diversion, (Mar. 2000).