Our story begins in 1898, when three prominent Duluthians traveled to St. Paul to explore the links, searching for top-notch courses to use as models for their own. Alfred Taussig, E.P. Towne and C.B. Woodruff returned to Duluth armed with ideas and inspiration. They immediately shared their plans with Pennsylvania real estate mogul T.W. Hoopes.
The four men, on bicycle, rode out to a nearby meadow (Now Ordean Field), and climbed on the closest haystack to survey the terrain. And they liked what they saw. They put their dreams to work, creating Northland’s first golf course … the Howell estate near Lakeside.
Directors Taussig, Towne and Woodruff founded Northland Golf Club on April 17, 1899, along with Duluthians G.G. Hartley, A.M. Miller, D.G. Cutler, W. Telford and H.W. Merchant.
Cutler was elected Northland’s first president. Memberships cost $15, and dues were $10 per year.
Ward Ames Jr. designed the original course, which wound around, above and below Superior Street. A two-room lodge was constructed across the creek from what is now the first tee.
The 300-yard 15th hole required a challenging shot across Superior Street to Ordean Field. The sixth, seventh and eighth holes were played in the field, and the ninth hole jumped back across Superior Street to a green that is still detectable at the foot of the slope which leads to the present 18th green.
In the early days, flocks of sheep acted as the groomers. Each fall, the caddies would herd them down Superior Street to the course, and then on to a West Duluth packing house when their work was done.
Electricity, water and sewer lines – three essentials today’s members have never been without – first arrived at the lodge in 1902. Two years later, the members elected to build a new, larger clubhouse where the present structure now stands. With that expansion came the name that has endured for nearly a century – Northland Country Club.
Since its opening, the clubhouse has been destroyed twice by fire – once in 1918, which required a complete rebuild, and once in 1973, which required a complete remodel. In 2006, the members chose to replace their aging clubhouse, adding more natural light, high ceilings and natural woodwork, along with impressive new amenities for members and additional banquet space. The new clubhouse opened in June 2007.
The golf course itself has been revised twice. In 1912, it was expanded to 18 holes, sweeping out into the area below the present fourth and 15th tees. When Northland acquired the land above the hill in 1921, Donald Ross was hired to lay out a completely new course. It was finished in 1927, and, with a few modifications, is the same course played today.
Northland has been the site of major golf tournaments – most notably, the 1946 Western Amateur and the 1956 Women’s USGA Open Golf Championship. At that tournament, Ann Gregory made history, becoming the first African-American woman to play in a USGA event.
In 1924, the famous Northland Invitational Tournament was born, and has been held every year since, save 1929 and 1930. The Women’s Invitational was started in 1959. The Leo Spooner Four Ball started in 1970 and has been held each year except 1991.
Many golf professionals have served the club since its humble beginning; namely, Dan Ross, J. Marting Watson, J. Moffett, M.W. Lawrence, Willie Leith, Dick Clarkson, George Carney, Harold Clasen, Everett Stuart, Joe O’Connor, Jennifer Webster O'Connor and currently, John Kuenzli.