Old Hermitage

 written by Bruce Matson

   Historians estimate that at the turn of the century about 250,000 people were playing golf in America on around 1,000 golf courses. In 1900 the Richmond area had a population of 51,867. At least a few hundred of them began playing golf at a newly founded club-Hermitage Country Club-a club that would enjoy wonderful years, persevere through difficult times, live on to give much back to the game and, in the year 2000, celebrate 100 years of sport and fellowship.

   During its first 100 years, Hermitage has enjoyed play on five different golf courses. The initial course was a simple, 9-hole course at Broad Street designed by Willie Tucker, William Braid and W.V. Hoave, which members used from 1900 through 1916. Next the club hired A.W. Tillinghast to design a course at Hilliard Road, which members would enjoy from 1918 through 1976. In 1960 Hermitage added a remote course-Ethelwood, designed and built by Jim Reynolds (with consultation with William and David Gordon). Hermitage would play Ethelwood from 1960 until 1973, at which time the Club's three nines (Lake, Pine and Oak) at Broad Run, designed by Ed Ault opened for play. The thirty-six holes at Broad Run were "completed" in 1990 when Arthur Hills designed the "New" nine, permitting the Club to designate two distinct 18-hole courses-the Manakin (consisting of the former Pine and Oak nines) and the Sabot (consisting for the former Lane and New nines). 

   In 1904, the Hermitage was a founding member of the Virginia State Golf League, which would later evolve into the Virginia State Golf Association (VSGA). Hermitage would go on to provide invaluable support to the VSGA. Its members would serve regularly in leadership positions in the association and the club would offer its courses and facilities for VSGA and USGA events for the next 95 years. In 1949, the Hermitage hosted the only major professional golf championship held in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the PGA Championship. Fittingly, a native Virginian from Hot Springs, Sam Snead, defeated Johnny Palmer 3 and 2 to win Wanamaker Trophy.

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