- Hyp Kate
Course in Focus: Latrobe Country Club
Arnold Palmer famously designed over 300 golf courses, but Latrobe Country Club is a particularly special one. It's the course Arnold grew up on—the one where he first learned to grip a club, the one where he learned to play and love the game of golf.
Working under his father, who was the head pro and superintendent of the course, Arnold helped maintain the grounds, worked in the pro shop, and spent whatever free time he could practicing his game—his first steps on the way to becoming a legend.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves... the course's history goes back to before Mr. Palmer was born. It all began more than a century ago in 1920, when a group of businessmen bought 63 acres of farmland in southern Pennsylvania and began to build a 9-hole golf course. One of the young men who worked on the construction of the club was Deke Palmer—Arnold's father—who went on to become the superintendent of the Club in 1926.
Over the next two decades, the Club grew slowly but steadily, acquiring small pieces of land here and there and continuously improving the layout of the original course. By the early 1960s, enough land had been acquired to create a full 18-hole course. Both Deke and Arnold contributed heavily to the design of the nine new holes, as well as the revamping of the existing holes to fit the new layout.
Efforts to expand and modernize the course rapidly accelerated when Arnold Palmer himself purchased the Country Club in 1971. Under his management, tennis courts, maintenance buildings, and cart storage areas were all constructed, as well as the creation of the swimming pool, permanent cart paths, a practice range, and more.
A few fun facts about Latrobe Country Club:
While the course has been improved time & time again since its beginning, the course that Deke and Arnold Palmer helped design in the 1960s is essentially the same course you can play today!
From the championship tees, the course has a rating of 72.5 with a slope of 139. If you're looking for something a bit less challenging, though, the white tees have a rating of 70.5 with a slope of 135.
Instead of building typical, utilitarian rain shelters along the creek that cuts through several of the back nine holes, Mr. Palmer decided to construct covered bridges that reflected Pennsylvania's rich culture, as well as providing protection when storms kicked up. These beautiful red covered bridges are so popular that artists and photographers from around the world visit Latrobe just to capture them!
Deke Palmer planted nearly 75% of the trees found on the course today as part of a massive tree-planting campaign he began when the course was first founded. In more recent years, when one of the 12-foot red pines died, the stump was transformed into a carving of Deke, a beautiful tribute that was suggested by Arnold himself.
When Arnold was just a boy, the Palmer family lived in a home beside what is now the course's fifth tee.
To quote the Country Club itself...
"To play a round at Latrobe Country Club is to participate in one of golf’s most authentic stories, one that traveled the world—and began here."
Whether you're able to travel to Pennsylvania or not, you can now be part of this incredible story by playing the course any time you'd like in Ultimate Golf! We’re honored to have this piece of golf history in the game for players around the world to enjoy.