The Omni Homestead Resort

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The Omni Homestead Resort’s Old Course opened in 1892 and remains the oldest first tee in continuous use in the United States.



Image of Old Course Golf Course, The Omni Homestead Resort, 1766, Member of Historic Hotels of America, Hot Springs, Virginia

The iconic Omni Homestead Resort, which opened in Hot Springs, Virginia, in 1766 and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1989, offers guests opportunities to tee-off at two very historic Allegheny Mountains courses: The Cascades and The Old Course.

The Old Course opened in 1892 as a six-hole course. It features the oldest first tee in continuous use in the United States. The Old Course was expanded to nine holes by 1898, and famed golf course designer Donald Ross expanded the course to 18 holes in 1913. Ross had trained at St. Andrews in the 1890s, and then spent most of his career and life in the United States, where he designed many of the country’s greatest courses during the Golden Age of Golf. His influence on the game and its architecture continues to this day, on his historic courses and on new courses his designs inspired.

The Cascades Course, designed by golf course architect William S. Flynn, a contemporary of Ross’s, opened in 1924. The Cascades Course is regarded as one of Flynn’s finest works. Known for designing courses in concert with natural terrain, Flynn’s deft architectural skills created a course which fit perfectly within the scenic Allegheny Mountains. Golf legend Sam Snead once remarked that if he could play only one course, it would be The Cascades in Hot Springs, Virginia. One of the greatest players of the 20th century, Snead had strong ties to the game at the Omni Homestead Resort. As a young boy, he worked at the Old Course as a caddy and eventually served as the golf professional at The Cascades Course. At the age of 71, he finished par-72 The Cascades Course 12 under par.

Over the centuries, nine U.S. Presidents, foreign royalty, business leaders, and celebrities have played these renowned courses, and the notable stories are endless.

William McKinley was the first U.S. President to play golf while in office (1897–1901) and he did so on the Old Course, teeing-off at the Old Tee in 1899. Around the same era as McKinley, former President (1909–1913) and former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1921–1930) William Howard Taft played The Old Course. Taft and his family enjoyed staying at the resort often and would visit for months at a time. One of his more famous visits was during the 20th annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar Association in 1908. Taft was keynote speaker, and such was his love of golf at The Old Course that on an unusually muggy day, after listening to another speaker for over two hours, and delivering his own address for over one hour, Mr. Taft changed clothes and played 18 holes of golf. His outings on The Old Course were frequent, and he established golf as the most favored presidential sport.

Former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge loved to walk the trails, tried a round of golf on The Old Course, and occasionally fished at The Cascades. Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the resort before he was elected President, again during his second term, and after retirement from office. He especially enjoyed playing golf, which had been prescribed by his physicians as part of his rehabilitation from heart trouble. Richard Nixon preferred The Old Course. George W. Bush visited The Omni Homestead Resort in May 2015 and played The Cascades.

First ladies could also be found on the course. In 1915, former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and former First Lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson spent their honeymoon at the resort. The newlyweds played golf together each morning on The Old Course. As a young girl in the 1930s, Jacqueline Bouvier learned to play golf on The Cascades.

Championship courses attract champions, naturally, and the resort has hosted many tournaments since golf arrived in the 1890s. The New York Times wrote on September 10, 1899: “The well-kept greens have won the praise of all the visiting experts, and, as usual, golf has been the most popular pastime here this Summer. Everyone is anxiously looking forward to the tournament.” Notably, Glenna Collett, the greatest female golfer of her day, won the USGA Women’s Open on the Cascades in 1928. French athlete Catherine Lacoste won the 1967 U.S. Women's Open there, too. Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Olympic track and field medalist and one of America’s greatest multi-sport athletes, drove her ball into the fork of a tree in 1935.

Twenty-first century guests are invited to participate in the long golf tradition at the Omni Homestead Resort’s historic courses.

Photos

Image of Cascades Club House, The Omni Homestead Resort, 1766, Member of Historic Hotels of America, Hot Springs, Virginia Image of Golfer at Cascades Golf Course, The Omni Homestead Resort, 1766, Member of Historic Hotels of America, Hot Springs, Virginia
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