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In September of 1915, an avid group of golfers took over a lease of 100 acres of land from Mayo Clinic doctors E.S. Judd and D.C. Balfour. Harry Turple, a Red Wing Course Golf Professional, was brought in to lay out a nine-hole course - and Rochester Golf Club was born. The members desired a more challenging golf course and as luck would have it, a Mayo Clinic physician married the daughter of noted golf course architect Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast.

About Tillinghast

Tillinghast had become the pre-eminent golf course architect of his time by designing courses such as Winged Foot, Baltusrol, and the San Francisco Golf Club. In 1916, Rochester Golf Club became incorporated and changed its name to Rochester Golf & Country Club. Construction began on Tillinghast's new course in 1924, and it opened the following summer.

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Walter D. "Pop" Shelden, MD

One of the original members who has also left his thumbprint on Rochester Golf & Country Club was Walter D. "Pop" Shelden, MD. "Pop" Shelden had played a great course in Texarkana that was cut out of a pine forest and brought that idea back to Rochester with him. In the early 1930s, he bought 5,000 pine seedlings for ten dollars and started a nursery at the southwest corner of the course. Over 30,000 trees were eventually transplanted to the course over the next fifteen years. Unfortunately, "Pop" passed on before the overall project was completed. He has since been honored by the playing of the Walter D. Shelden Golf Tournament that is now played as our Member/Guest Tournament.

Big Changes

Rochester Golf & Country Club entered a new century of service in 2016, and a great deal has changed over the past 100-plus years. The old clubhouse was leveled and replaced with a Tudor-style building. Dining and meeting spaces were completely remodeled, bringing a fresh, modern feel to the traditional design of the clubhouse. A multi-purpose outdoor event venue was built near the 10th tee, and the swimming pool area grew into a true aquatic destination.

Yet the biggest change to Rochester Golf & Country Club is still underway. Under the direction of renowned golf course architect Tom Doak, the acclaimed 18-hole golf course is undergoing substantial renovations to restore the course to its original A.W. Tillinghast design. Long known for its challenging but playable course and breathtaking views, the course will reopen in 2019 offering members and guests alike new and lasting memories as the story of Rochester Golf & Country Club continues.