Delray Beach golf course added to state's historic golf trail

Delray Beach golf course featured on state's historic golf trail

Golfers who tee off at the Delray Beach Golf Club from now on will be standing on historic greens.

The city announced Wednesday that the golf course has been recognized by the Florida Department of State as a historic course on the Florida Historic Golf Trail.

The trail consists of more than 50 golf courses that represent Florida's early golf heritage, which dates back to the 1890s.

"It's a big deal," said Delray's head golf professional, Tommi Ylijoki. "To be recognized as one of the oldest golf courses that has remained open through all the ups and downs in golf history is pretty neat."

Fairways featured on the trail were built between 1890 and World War II and must still be publicly accessible to be eligible for the historic trail designation.

Delray's greens, at 2020 Highland Ave., officially opened in 1926 as a nine-hole course, but it was forced to close for a while when World War II broke out, according to city records.

Folks were able to break out their clubs again after the war ended in 1945. The city also expanded the course to an 18-hole, par 72 course. The expansion was completed in 1950.

The course was designed by legendary architect Donald Ross, who also designed Miami's famous Biltmore Hotel.

Ylijoki said having Ross' name attached to Delray's course helped when the state was reviewing documentation to consider adding the course to the trail.

"He is one of the greatest architects ever," Ylijoki said of Ross. "We are fortunate that he was able to design the Delray Beach course."

According to the Department of State, Florida's golf history is one of the oldest in the nation. Golf courses began to pop up with the development of railroads and resort-style hotels in the state.

A boom in construction of golf courses took place during the "golden age" of golf course architecture, which lasted from 1900 through the 1930s. During the golden age, many famous architects of the time were hired to design and build new greens.

The state's historic trail was created in 2014 as a way to promote the public's awareness of Florida's golf history.

Delray isn't the only local Palm Beach County course featured on the historic trail. The Boca Raton Resort & Club resort course, Lake Worth Golf Club and West Palm Beach Golf Course are a part of the trail.

The trail's website, floridahistoricgolftrail.com, provides information about the courses and a score card for those who want to try to wedge, chip and putt at all the courses and track their progress.

Ylijoki said the Delray course will feature the trail's logo and use the historic designation as a way to attract more golfers.

mgottesman@sunsentinel.com, 561-243-6544 or Twitter @marisagottesman

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
32°