This Place in History: Dorset Field Club

Vermont Historical Society


At ‘This Place in History‘ we’re in Dorset with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“It’s so exciting to be back with all of you. We’re in Dorset at the Dorset Field Club, which is the oldest continuously operating golf course in the United States. We’re going to go see longtime member Barbara Reed and General Manager Patrick McGuire and they’re going to tell us all about this really cool place,” began Perkins.

“The club was established in 1886. It’s known as the oldest continuously operating club in the country at the same location. There are other clubs that are older, but they either closed down with the World Wars or moved their locations. They opened the doors in 1886 and they haven’t closed them since,” said McGuire.

“There were seven, eight or nine Founding Fathers that the majority of them were from Troy area and this was their summer hub. They put together a nine hole golf course with their buddies and it’s been here ever since. I think it was kind of a vacation retreat,” continued McGuire.

“A golf course probably looked really different then, than we think of it now?” asked Perkins.

“Cow pastures and fences and all that. It was quite a job to turn all of this land into nine holes, which it was for many, many decades,” answered Reed.

“Now, Barbara, you’ve been a member of the club for, let’s say, a number of years and so you’ve seen a lot of changes here. What was the course like when you first started playing?” asked Perkins.

“When I first came here, it was rough. It was just nine holes and they would change the tees for the second nine, the back nine, a little bit, from say this chair to this one. And, the most amazing thing of change to me, well two things. The first thing was we could play barefooted in cutoff jeans. That definitely changed. The second change was early on, we brought food for dances which we had with records, records where you put the arm down. And you brought some kind of casserole and we’d all eat it and what fun, yes,” reflected Reed.

“As people discovered Dorset, Manchester, Pawlet and the mountains, they decided to come up not just for skiing, but for the summer. Slowly, the growth seemed to me, to be gradual,” added Reed.

“[The club] become bigger and bigger and more and more important, in that more people live here now. It’s a center of activity for many of us and generational. My granddaughters learned to play tennis here. We have so many generations here, children and grandchildren of members like me, which is very nice,” concluded Reed.

At ‘This Place in History’!

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic site markers, click here.

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