Photos courtesy of Edgewood Country Club.

WPGA Founding Club Series: Edgewood Country Club
By Josh Rowntree, Director of Communications  • April 16, 2024

As a part of Western Pennsylvania Golf Association’s 125th Anniversary, the WPGA will look back at the five founding clubs of the association in a historical review.

The five founding clubs of the WPGA are Edgewood Country Club, Allegheny Country Club, Pittsburgh Field Club, Pittsburgh Golf Club and Edgeworth Club.

Today, the WPGA revisits the history of Edgewood Country Club, the host of the 2024 WPGA Club Ambassador Day on April 22, and a club that has strong, founding ties to one of the most famous surnames in Western Pennsylvania history.

Roots in the 1800s

In the late 1800s, Henry Herman Westinghouse — the brother of American entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse — teamed up with a group of lawyers to design a small golf course in the Homestead area, laying the foundation for what would eventually become Edgewood Country Club.

The group of men, however, hit early challenges with the layout in Homestead, only able to construct seven or eight holes on the property. Needing more space, the course was moved in 1897 to a location near Westinghouse’s Union Switch property in Swissvale.

A year later, following the completion of the clubhouse — which resembled more of a log home than a tradition country club clubhouse — Edgewood opened to members.

The original clubhouse

Early Ties to the WPGA and More Moves

In the following two years, Edgewood Country Club was elected to membership in the USGA and became one of the five founding clubs of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association. The WPGA Open Championship was contested at Edgewood in 1901 and was won by Arthur Smith, his second straight West Penn Open title.

The course relocated in 1907 to the McKelvey family farm, and then again in 1922 to its current location in Churchill when E.C. Brown — a business man native to Edgewood — was able to have authorized a $75,000 mortgage and construction of a $30,000 clubhouse.

The current location, on Churchill Road, is a sprawling 167 acres, and was purchased for $40,000. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $1.3 million today.

World Class Design, Players and Competitions

Edgewood Country Club’s management hired renowned course architect Donald Ross to design the layout, consulting with a man responsible for the design of over 400 golf courses through North America, including 37 in Pennsylvania.

“Donald Ross famously said that a tree should never define a golf hole,” says says former Edgewood Director of Golf/Head Professional Craig Borst, who began working at Edgewood while in high school in 1979 as a pro shop and course attendant.

“That wasn’t entirely true of Edgewood through its existence, but it’s pretty true now. And Donald Ross was never overly concerned with par on a hole, so you get some Par 4 1/2 holes. They’ve gone back and forth between Par 4 or Par 5 with some holes.”

As the nation celebrated Independence Day in 1922, Edgewood Country Club — thanks to the manpower of over 3,000 who helped build the course — opened to over 500 members.

“It’s well located for membership with its easy access into the city,” says Borst, now the Director of Competitions for the WPGA. “Back in the day — and it still is — Churchill was a pretty affluent area. You had Westinghouse right there, Union Switch just down the road. There was a lot of big business going on out there.”

Five years after the course’s opening, the great Bobby Jones played Edgewood, just two years removed from his U.S. Open victory at Oakmont. A couple years later, membership came a screeching halt due to the stock market crash of 1929. But, nearly a decade after, the club’s membership grew back to a healthy point.

In 1954, Edgewood hosted its first annual Men’s Invitational. Five years later, the first Mixed Invitational was played.

On January 29, 1964, a day after after a new clubhouse opened, a fire destroyed the former clubhouse and caused slight damage to part of the new, which survived and has been redesigned and renovated on multiple occasions since.

It has done so in order to be a continual harbor of connectivity through the game of golf, and that has certainly led to light and even comical moments.

As noted in the Club’s Centennial book, in 1974, Bob Maxwell was forced to shave off his ‘beautiful’ handlebar mustache — the result of an on-course bet won by pal Art Culbert. A sign of the course’s devotion to being a welcoming environment for the community.

The club has also welcomed some notable members, such as Olympic diver Karen LaFace, who participated in the 1992 Barcelona Games. One of the area’s all-time sports great, Pirates Hall of Famer Dick Groat, was a member of Edgewood following his basketball and baseball playing careers.

These members stayed strong, even through challenging economical periods, and times when the game of golf was not nearly as financially profitable as it is today.

“Even in the 1980s, the board really had the vision that it needed to be a family club,” adds Borst. “And that’s why they succeeded through some rough times."

And speaking of Borst, Edgewood has had stability atop its golf professionals over the last century, with eight Head Pros since 1907 and just six over the last 91 years.

A Modern Day Staple in West Penn Golf

Edgewood has hosted numerous WPGA competitions, including the 120th WPGA Open Championship, won by Beau Titsworth in 2023 with a commanding 9-under performance. It came during the club’s 125th anniversary season and was a remarkably impressive score given the course’s toughness.

“The greens definitely make it difficult, both speed and slope,” says Borst of the challenges of Edgewood in competitions. “It’s not a very wide open golf course. When you get on holes 6 and 7 and the out-of-bounds is looming on both holes, that makes it difficult.”

The West Penn Open was also contested at Edgewood in 2001, 1959 and 1954. The WPGA Amateur has been hosted at Edgewood in 1976, 1969, 1965, 1946, 1939 and 1932.

Now, in 2024, Edgewood Country Club has become a strong pillar of the local golf community, serving as a centralized club East of Pittsburgh.

The Western Pennsylvania Golf Association will return to Edgewood for this year’s Club Ambassador Day on April 22, celebrating members of local WPGA clubs and courses who serve as intermediaries between their home course’s other members and the WPGA.

"The WPGA is excited to connect with our Club Ambassadors at such a terrific venue,“ says Terry Teasdale, Executive Director of the WPGA. “Edgewood Country Club has long stood as a great affiliate club and is a tremendous host course for this event.”

For media inquiries, please contact WPGA Director of Communications Josh Rowntree.

About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and nearly 37,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund and Western Pennsylvania Golf Hall of Fame.