History of Walnut Hills


The Start

In 1921, a group of East Lansing and College faculty golfers created nine hole links in the heart of the Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) Cavalry Field. The Field was near the Red Cedar River and where Demonstration Hall now stands. The course was arranged in a circular form around the outside of the field, leaving room in the center for the riding of the Cavalry. The maintenance crew consisted of a voracious herd of sheep, which kept the course neatly cropped and partly fertilized. The members paid an annual fee of $5 to join the club.

“Fairways were something less than fair, greens were bumpy and weedy, and a tributary of Red Cedar meandered across several fairways, collecting balls and encouraging professional profanity.” –1921

Expansion of the Vision

Membership in the Club grew rapidly, with many Lansing and East Lansing businessmen joining in 1921 and 1922. Dues were increased to $10 per year. By 1922, it was reported that "a gasoline-driven grass cutter has been purchased and the greens will be kept closely trimmed.” In 1923, the members closed down the campus course and constructed a new nine-hole course and a clubhouse on land leased from former MAC President Snyder along Coolidge Road. During this interim time the vision was to create an 18-hole club and find the best golf course land in the city.

In 1927, arrangements were made for purchasing a 210-acre "highlands" site in the northern tier of town on Lake Lansing Road. As the first settler in the area, Isaac Carl and his family relocated from New York and they farmed the front 80 acres. His Son Charles Carl built the 1893 farmhouse (still on the property today) and expanded the farm to 210 acres.

Construction of the current course began in the fall of 1927. In 1929, after surveying the new land, the charter members established the name "Walnut Hills Golf Club" representing the hardwoods that outlined the property and the rolling landscape that enhanced the course strategy.

Official opening ceremonies were July 4, 1929 and featured the raising of the flag and introduction of the Officers of the Club. The course was then played en masse by the membership. An exhibition match was held featuring the head pro and a member of Lansing Country Club against the head pro and a member of Walnut Hills Country Club. As the members admired their new English Tudor clubhouse, then under construction, and played the new eighteen-hole course, it is not hard to imagine some reminiscing about their more humble beginnings nine years earlier. In 1959 the clubhouse was claimed by fire and a new more contemporary structure was built and shortly thereafter a pool was added. This family club offers all the amenities and has evolved as a center point of the community over the last century.

The historic Joseph Roseman design along with a dynamic rolling site has created one of the finest parkland golf courses in Michigan. The Walnut Hills Golf Club offers classic architecture only found in the ’1920s “heyday” of golf course architecture. Today triplexes trim the turf instead of sheep but the vision is the same. Golf played by a community of members in an extraordinary and timeless setting.