|Original Clubhouse designed
by Alden and Harlow - 1925
From the day in 1910, when Pittsburgh’s Mayor Magee decided to take over and make public the course in Schenley Park, many who formerly played there joined Oakmont and Allegheny. All felt, however, that someday they ought not to be playing in other people’s courses, but should have one all their own. For years there was much talk, which kept the subject alive and unsettled, and led to much study of possible localities, particularly by the then President of Pittsburgh Golf Club, George M. Laughlin.
Many pieces of ground were examined but were discarded as too remote, too rough, or generally unsatisfactory until the day in 1922 when the search party was led to the Club’s present site - in a lovely valley that seemed to have every possibility of being just what was wanted.
After William Frew, George M. Laughlin, Jr., William L. Mellon, Thruston Wright, Alexander B. Shepherd, John C. Dilworth and Francis S. Guthrie had looked it over, it was agreed to try and promote the matter and see how much interest there would be in the project. On January 26, 1923, a dinner was given at the Pittsburgh Golf Club, attended by about fifty gentlemen. The matter was laid before them and subscriptions were invited for bonds to help finance a new Club. The enthusiasm for the idea was so real that, that evening, $152,000 was subscribed by those present.
Following such an auspicious start, on January 26, 1923, the Club was organized with the following incorporators: William L. Mellon, George M. Laughlin, Jr., Francis S. Guthrie, William Frew, Thruston Wright, Alexander B. Shepherd and John C. Dilworth. An organization meeting of members and incorporators was held June 25, 1923. At this meeting a temporary organization was effected by the election of a Board of Directors and the appointment of various committees, the members of which served until the first annual meeting of the membership, which was held October 17, 1925.
Work began at once on a course and Clubhouse. Alden & Harlow were the architects of the original Clubhouse and Seth Raynor was chosen to lay out the course. Mr. Raynor had been closely associated with Charles B. MacDonald, the builder of the National Golf Links at Southhampton, and, as a result, there are many holes which bear a striking resemblance to those of the National Links. Work on the course was begun in May, 1923, but due partly to bad climatic conditions, which necessitated almost completely resowing many of the fairways, the course was not in shape to open until June 13, 1925. On that occasion, a four ball match was played.
The name “Fox Chapel” was adopted on the suggestion of the late R. B. Mellon. Before starting on the course, many estimates were obtained as to the probable cost. These ran from $75,000 to about $110,000 and, consequently, the plan was to spend about, but not more than, $120,000 on the job. As the work progressed, all kinds of ideas arose. All these ran into money and when the work was completed and the first ball driven off the first tee, it was found the course had cost approximately $220,000. However, the basic layout was sound and well done and could not be duplicated today at five times that amount.
As the membership grew, the facilities provided in the original Clubhouse proved to be inadequate. A special meeting was called for April 8, 1927, to consider the question of enlarging the original Clubhouse. At this meeting it was voted to proceed with plans for such enlargement, the funds to be provided by a plan of refinancing, which involved, among other things, the sale of capital stock to the membership. The proceeds realized from the sale of this stock were supplemented by a number of generous subscriptions from members.
The plans for the new Clubhouse as submitted by Architect Brandon Smith and finally approved by the Board of Directors called for the demolition of all of the old structure, with the exception of that portion in which the present men’s locker room is located, and the erection of a new building which now comprises the main part of the Clubhouse. The contract for this new building was let on May 20, 1930, to Edward Wehr. It was completed and opened for use on Memorial Day, 1931.
Club revenues were seriously affected by the depression of the 1930s which began shortly after completion of the Clubhouse, and by the shortages and rationing of World War II. During this prolonged period just the most critical repairs and maintenance were undertaken.
The main part of the Clubhouse is basically much the same as when erected. Major additions were made to add the Grill Room, former Golf Shop and Maintenance Equipment Building, which are still in place. A new skylight over the Atrium was completed in 1969.
The golf course, while retaining the essence of its original Seth Raynor architecture, had been significantly altered over the years due in part to changes in turf grass maintenance. As a result, fairway contours had been realigned and tees and putting surfaces reduced in size.
During the mid-1990s, golf course architect Brian Silva was retained to provide guidance to the Committee of the Green in its efforts to restore the course to the design originally intended by Seth Raynor. While there remain aspects still incomplete, the golf course is much more of an authentic replication of Raynor’s original architecture. A shooting lodge has also been part of the facilities since 1927.
Much work has been performed on the general grounds. Tennis courts have been added and repositioned, a tennis shop placed adjacent to them. Paddle tennis courts and a warming hut have been constructed. A new swimming complex was designed and built in 1976. This includes an L-shaped pool plus showers, dressing rooms and food preparation and serving areas.
In 1984 the kitchen was completely renovated and expanded. An automatic sprinkling system was installed on the golf course in 1969 and completely replaced and enhanced in 2010. In 1989 a new shooting lodge was constructed. In 1991 the Lower Terrace was rebuilt and expanded and the entrance area by the Golf Shop was enlarged and enhanced. In 1993, the front entrance of the Club was enhanced by renovating the driveway, curbs and walkways. In 1995 an elevator was installed and the Ladies Locker Room refurbished.
Most recently, in 2015 and continuing into 2016, the Club embarked on a major improvement project to bring our facilities up to the standard and needs of our modern membership. Casual and family dining were permanently established on the site of the former Golf Shop. The Ladies Locker Room was moved to the West side of the clubhouse, while the Golf Shop was expanded, the golf entrance improved and the kitchen updated. Finally, the former Ladies Locker Room was repurposed to add fitness facilities with a view over the golf course.
The Fox Chapel Golf Club continues to be one of the outstanding facilities in the country, providing a range of excellent recreational activities including an enjoyable and exciting test of golf, and is a center of enjoyment, relaxation, and fellowship for man