Shhhh… If you listen closely, very closely…you just might hear them. Footsteps. Metal spikes across rocky pathways to the first tee box. Hickory shafts clacking together in the hand of a caddie – golf bags weren’t widely used yet. Perhaps you can hear a pipe-smoked voice call for a brassie or a mashie or a niblick – No 3-woods or Rescue Clubs or 60-degree wedges.
Tilt your imagination this way…
You might just overhear one the greatest golf course architects who ever rendered a layout – AW Tillinghast – as he discusses where to place a small, undulating green near Hilliard Road.
Close your eyes and you can hear the perfect and unmistakable swoosh of Sam Snead’s golf swing, followed closely by a sudden roar at the ’49 PGA Championship.
Keep coming forward in time.
You can almost feel yourself getting caught up in that one extra special day in the summer of 1988. First, you walk. Then you walk briskly to catch a view of the first Blue Collar Golf Hero. Next you jog with the thousands of others trying to surround the 18th Green, where you wipe a tear and applaud wildly as Arnold Palmer sinks the putt to win the Crestar Classic. Perhaps you and everyone else there utter the same thought whether out loud or to yourself, “Did I just witness the final championship that the great Arnold Palmer will win in his incredible career?!”
Imagine walking in the same footsteps as some of the greatest who ever teed it up? Now, you become a member of the club that helped found the Virginia State Golf Leagues (now the VSGA), hosted the only major championship ever held in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and established golf's foothold in the mid-Atlantic.
Prior to 1900, golf was perceived in the United States as an indulgence of our British and Irish cousins across the ocean. It certainly was met with disdain by some as not for the "roll-the-sleeves" Americans. Then along came Harry Vardon, the British golfing legend from the Isle of Jersey, hardly an upper-crust location of the Empire! Vardon made a golf equivalent of a barnstorming tour through the eastern United States in the late-1890’s. This Tour launched golf into the hearts and minds of Americans.
Thus it is not surprising that an enterprising mind in Richmond, Virginia would see golf as a way to draw commerce to the far reaches of the city’s trolley line. Build it and they will come, indeed. And in 1900, Hermitage Country Club was founded.
From that moment, our rich heritage began.
But it is vital to note that Hermitage Country Club is much more than a club that has managed to stay in business since 1900. There is a gigantic difference between being “old” and having a rich heritage that is still vibrant to this day.
For example, two of the most prestigious and (just flat out fun!) amateur events are held at Hermitage Country Club every year:
The Valentine Invitational attracts some of the best talent in men’s amateur golf and has done so since the early-1930’s. Golfers have come from all over the country to participate. Today, the fields are every bit as robust as they were in 1931.
The Tommy Galloway Father-Son has become just as vital a staple of the Mid-Atlantic golf season. Since the 1950’s fathers and sons have placed this on their calendar as a highlight not to be missed.
These tournaments are quintessential examples of what people and events have enabled Hermitage to not only develop rich traditions and meaningful heritage, but to allow the Club to continuously move forward to spark new traditions and events, to take chances, to enhance our offerings to the membership, and to never forget that we are part of a vibrant community here in central Virginia.