Monroe Golf Club

Club History

Early History of Monroe Golf Club

The history of Monroe Golf Club actually began in 1920, when a committee of members from the long-since vanished Genundewah Golf Club of East Rochester were charged with finding a new site for the club after its lease could not be renewed.

After several months of searching, the committee eventually narrowed its choices to four potential locations for the new club: one in Penfield, the Harris farm in East Rochester, and two in Pittsford, one of which was the Stoutenberg, Brizee and Palmateer farms of 214 acres. Gordon Kellogg, an outside consultant to the committee who had chaired Oak Hill's recent relocation task force, took one look at the Stoutenberg site and reportedly exclaimed, "Here's something that Donald Ross would rave about."

At this point, committee member Irving W. Robeson – a close friend of the legendary Scottish golf course architect Donald Ross – brought the architect before the committee for an interview, as well as to survey the Stoutenberg property. His enthusiastic reaction to the property all but decided the issue.

On October 20, 1922, during a meeting of the club's founding members, led by Henry L. Perrigo, the club's first president, at the Rochester Club, the committee voted to reorganize under the name "Monroe Golf Club," to buy the Stoutenberg-Palmateer-Brizee site and to issue an Invitation-Prospectus for new members.

  In December, 1923, Ross was notified that he had been commissioned to design and construct the course and that he would have 150 out of the Club's 214 acres to choose from. In return, Ross was offered a compensation package that included a $5,500 architect's fee and a construction fee of $50,000 (based on an estimated cost of $3,000 per hole). 

Palmateer House

The young club also began an extensive building program, whereby the Palmateer brick house was fitted for clubhouse purposes, the Stoutenberg cottage was made ready for the greenskeeper, a locker house and a pro shop would be built and the course provided with rain shelters. Play on the new Monroe Golf Club course officially began on July 4, 1924. Formalities were limited to the start of two foursomes, as well as the presence of members who came to watch the official opening drives and then to play themselves. Included among the inaugural foursome was the noted Scottish professional Johnny Walker, who was to serve as the club's first head pro.

  • Donald Ross History
  • Golf Course Timeline
    • 1923  
        Club founded. 
      Three farms purchased in Pittsford: Stoutenberg (112 acres), Palmateer (57 acres), Brizee (45 acres). 214 acres total, golf course 150 acres. First Buildings: clubhouse-Palmateer brick farmhouse, Greenskeepers house-Stoutenberg cottage. 
      Donald Ross commissioned to design course. Design fee: $5,500. Course construction fee: $50,000. 2,000 trees planted 

      16 year old Robert Trent Jones works on construction crew. 
      Jim Connaughton, First Course Superintendent (a construction foreman for Mr. Ross)
      1924   First round of golf played on July 4th 
      First Foursome: President Henry L Perrigo, Treasurer Jack Leysenaar, Secretary A. Edwin Crockett, Scottish Golf Professional Johnny Walker.
      1928   5,000 trees planted
      1929    5,000 additional trees planted
      1934   Golf course irrigation system installed. One of the first in the United States.
      158’ well to the prehistoric Genesee River. 1,000 gallons per minute. Cost $17,000.
        20 fairway and greenside bunkers removed
        Several thousand pines planted under a New State program
      1960   Steve Williams named Course Superintendent following the death of Mr. Connaughton
      1959   Mr. Williams serves as Monroe’s Superintendent from 1960-1987.
        Patrick Gertner named Course Superintendent. Mr. Gertner serves from 1986-2002.
      Fairway re-contouring by Brian Silva.
        New maintenance building opens.
      2002   Full golf course irrigation replacement at a cost of $750,000.
      Four hole short course designed and shaped by Gil Hanse Associates, 2002. Construction by            
      Patrick Gertner and Monroe’s grounds crew.
        Mark Hughes named Course Superintendent.
      Golf Course Improvement and Tree Management Program Committee formed to evaluate trees and their impact on course conditions and playability. Phase I included removal of approximately 250 trees, 92% of them pines and spruces. Several hundred trees are removed in future phases.
        Monroe Board of Governors appointed a committee of members and staff to review and make recommendations on an updated golf course Master Plan. Members approved an expenditure of $40,000 for an architect’s review and development of such plan.
        Gil Hanse Associates selected to develop Master plan. Master Plan Committee meets 22 times as a group and with Gil Hanse.
        Membership approves Phase I of Master Plan which included renovation all existing bunkers, adding nine bunkers, a new women’s tenth tee, two championship tees and rebuilding the men’s first tee at a cost of $750,000.
      October 7 – construction begins on Master Plan. New bunkers shaped by Gil Hanse. Construction by Jack Faery Landscaping (Tony Grenzy, Construction Manager and Shaper).
      October 26 – Mark Hughes tragic death in swimming accident off the coast of Puerto Rico. Mark saved his wife Lisa’s life before succumbing.
        June 12 – all bunkers opened for play.
      Matt Delly named Golf Course Superintendent of Monroe Golf Club.
        Gil Hanse shapes new 17th tee, exit area from 16th green and stakes out 2nd hole championship tee.

  • Gil Hanse Course Renovation (2007 – 2008)
    • “We have been extremely fortunate to have been the consulting architects for Monroe Golf Club for the past decade, and it is my opinion that it is the finest Donald Ross course in New York State. The combination of the perfect terrain, sandy soil, and the genius of the Donald Ross design, makes it a must see for any player interested in golf course architecture. With the variety of golf holes, angles of play, and sublime green complexes it has challenged the finest amateurs in the history of golf over 70 years. With this history, tradition, and a chance to study some of the finest golf course architecture on the planet, the MIC is an opportunity that no amateur golfer should pass up.”

      Gil Hanse
      Golf Course Architect



      In 2002 Monroe Golf Club formed the Golf Course Improvement and Tree Management Program Committee in order to evaluate trees and their impact oncourse conditions and playability. Phase I included the removal of 250 trees (92% were pines and spruces).

      The Monroe Board of Governors appointed a committee of members and staff in 2004 to review and make recommendations on an updated golf course Master Plan. Members approved funding an architect’s review and development of a Master Plan that same year.

      In 2005 Gil Hanse Associates Inc. was selected to develop a Master plan. The Master Plan Committee met numerous times separately and with Gil Hanse.

      In 2007 the Monroe membership approved Phase I of Master Plan which included restoration of all existing bunkers, adding nine bunkers, a new women’s tenth tee, two championship tees and rebuilding the men’s first tee.

      On October 7, 2007 construction began on the Master Plan. The new bunkers were shaped by Gil Hanse; construction work was done by Jack Faery Landscaping (Jack Faery and Tony Grenzy, Construction Manager and Shaper).

      Gil Hanse golf course restoration principles:
      1. Restore the bunkers to their original condition
      This recommendation was at the top of the list of all architects who came and made proposals. Each of them pointed out how the bunkers have been allowed to deteriorate over the years at Monroe. Conditions today include inconsistency between bunkers; lack of sand in greenside bunkers; a sunken appearance to others and poor bunker facing due to sand continually thrown up by shots hit out of green side bunkers.

      The Master Plan Committee began to plan for rebuilding virtually every bunker at Monroe. This involved digging down to the base, installing a new bed if needed and changing out the sand using all new sand. The visual appeal and playability of the bunkers was the centerpiece of the Master Plan and accounted for the majority of the expense.

      2. Make certain the course is enjoyable for all levels of play
      This is always easier said than done, of course, but the goal is always there as any changes were debated. Members’ skills vary widely, as do the reasons they play golf in the first place. But they all play the same course, and the challenge to an architect is to give each player a set of tees to play from that gives them the most enjoyment for all 18 holes.

      3. Restore the original strategic shot values as well as the recovery shot
      Donald Ross had very specific ideas for how you could play most holes. He wanted to give the golfer the choice on the tee: if they had the skill and the shots, they could choose the ideal route that positioned them for the best second shot approach to the green. If they wanted a safer route, he gave them that choice as well—but usually that meant a less than ideal landing location from which to hit the next shot to the green.

      A good example would be Monroe’s 4th hole. Ross wanted the better player to be able to aim straight over the short right side bunkers and if successful, have a shot from the right side of the fairway up the hill to a green that had a very difficult right side bunker. Over the years, the planting of many trees between the 3rd and 4th fairway resulted in a shifting of the tee further to the left to get away from that canopy of trees. In addition, the fairway cutting pattern was changed to open it up further on the left side. The result is the reverse of how the hole was designed. To have a shot from the fairway, players have to aim much further left than Ross envisioned when the designed the green complex.

      Gil Hanse believed that a return to the original tee location, the removal of trees that crowd out that tee and restoring the original fairway mowing pattern, would combine to give all players the original choices that Ross had designed. In addition, the expansion of the fairway further to the right allows the higher handicap golfer room to hit their second shot wide of the cross bunkers that sit 80 yards from the green.

      On many other holes, elimination of trees that were planted in front of bunkers allowed for the reintroduction of the recovery shot for all players. Many fairway bunkers had spruce and other trees directly in line of play towards the green. Ross never intended for that to happen. These trees were planted over the years without the thought of how big they would grow in 40 or more years. They constituted a double hazard as they eliminated any chance of aiming for the real target, the green.

      4. Restore the greens to their original shape and size.
      Green shrinkage is a common problem of the classic golf courses built in the 1920’s. It has happened primarily because of mowing equipment available at the time. The first introduction of power mowers in the 1940’s was a big step forward over the push cutting mowers, but they were not as flexible in turns and they were cumbersome to back up. The result was a technique that evolved which resulted in wide circular turning. This meant that the irregular corners and peninsulas of certain greens were lost back to the fringe. Over the next 50 years the circular pattern or shape continued to evolve. When greens were reseeded, the “new shape” was the only area reseeded, and the greens lost the original shape more or less permanently.

      The greens of Ross and other classic architects had some very unusual shapes because they saw the nuances that were available if the back of a green had an extension or a peninsula. It meant more varied hole locations were available. This gave the course more variety each day and the more locations meant less stress on any one spot.

      Modern mowers and equipment allow the greens to be cut more efficiently and to follow irregular patterns. Monroe Golf Club is fortunate to possess the original blueprints of the greens and the original Ross drawings. Restoring the size and shape that Ross designed will add interest and improve the conditions of the greens. This was an important part of the Master Plan and Mr. Hanse believes it will make the course more enjoyable for all levels of players. Please visit the Scorecard tab under Golf Course to view the original blueprints of each green.

      5. Restore the fairways to their original mowing pattern and return original fairway bunkers to the course
      The fairways at Monroe had been changed significantly in terms of mowing pattern. The aerial photos show they are much more sculpted or weaving now than when the original course was built. Some of this is deliberate; some the result of maintenance decisions. Gil Hanse recommended that we return closer to the original fairway mowing pattern. This will not always result in a wider fairway since in some cases it means merely a shifting of the fairway, but it will restore the landing areas to fairway that Ross envisioned.

      The return to the original design of the fairways also means returning to the course a number of fairway bunkers that have been taken out over the years. Based on his review of many Ross courses and after a study of the original Ross blueprints at Monroe, Mr. Hanse felt they were put in by Ross as part of his design to highlight dramatically the contours of our gently rolling terrain. Mr. Hanse recommended that most of these orginal bunkers be returned to the course, especially those that were cut into a ridge or small hill. Much of this work has been completed.

      6. There were a number of opportunities to extend championship tees.
      The changes in clubs and balls have meant the stronger players at every club are hitting it further than any time in golf history. Monroe's championship tees were not played very often and the better players at Monroe told the committee it is because there is very little difference between the regulation tees and the championship tees. While doing the restoration work, championship tees have been added to the 5th hole increasing the yardage from 431 yards to 484 yards. Also, the 9th hole has been lengthened from 531 yards to 601 yards. Additional championship tees are planned for the near future.

      On several holes, the addition of bunkers in the landing area of the low handicap players of the gold tees has insured that the strategy of how best to play the hole is still rewarded. The work creating longer championship tees has strengthened the course for many years to come.

      7. Create chipping areas around the greens to reward the creativity and execution of recovery shots.
      Classic courses were designed with the clubs and balls in use at that time, as well as the equipment that would cut the turf. Today’s clubs and ball allows for a much greater variety of shots, especially around the green. In addition, today’s mowers allow us to cut fringe areas closer and to a lower level. To encourage and reward the player who can execute recovery shots around the green, restoration architects look for areas directly adjacent to or behind a green where they can introduce closely cut chipping areas. If you watched the US Open at Pinehurst, you saw how this feature adds a new dimension to shots around the green. Several chipping areas have been established throughout the golf course mostly notably on holes 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18.

      These chipping areas give players multiple options, including chipping, bumping the ball into the side hill, putting, or using a fairway wood. With some practice, these are shots that every level of golfer can execute and it makes for some of the most exciting match play swings when they pull it off.
  • Memorable Players & Tournaments
    • One of Monroe's more memorable early champions was Dr. George Trainor, who, in 1940, won the club championship as well as the Rochester District Championship and the prestigious Monroe Invitational Championship (MIC), which was then only in its fourth year.

      In the 1940s and 50s, Mort Reed won the club championship five times – a feat soon matched by Carl Christ in the 50s and 60s. In the early 1970s, Dana Consler won the championship four consecutive years (a record that still stands), on his way to seven club titles between 1972 and 1984.


      John Kircher

      In 1979, a very talented member would win the Monroe Golf Club championship and soon begin to rewrite the club's record books. With that first win in 1979 in the books, John Kircher would go on to win the title 16 times in a career that is still very active. In 1985, Kircher also won the Monroe Invitational and he has added the John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial Rochester District Championship four times since 1990.  John Kircher is a local legend having won five CCR Invitational Championships, four Brook Lea Invitationals, six RDGA Tournament of Championships, two JR Williams Championships, twice a runner up in the New York State Amateur Championship and was named the Rochester Press Radio Club Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1990.  

      Tim Spitz

      Tim Spitz, another gifted Monroe member is making his mark in local tournaments having won the last three club championships – seven  all together, three Tournament of Championships, three Brook Lea Invitationals, and has been a runner up four times in the John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial Rochester District Championship.   

      In the Fall of 2009, Tim finished as the runner-up at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship held in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Tim was one of over 4,000 players to enter the tournament. After placing in the top three at a qualifier held at Crag Burn Golf Club in East Aurora, Tim shot 73-73 to qualify for Match Play at Cassique, the Tom Watson-designed course at Kiawah Island Club. Once in match play, Tim won his first five matches to reach the finals. Incredibly, Tim never trailed his opponent during the first four matches. In his semi-final match, Tim briefly fell behind his opponent, then rallied to win the match, 3 and 2. Although Tim lost his final match to Nathan Smith, the #2 ranked amateur player in the country, his performance was the finest for a Rochester player at a USGA event since Sam Urzetta's U.S. Amateur win in 1950. In addition to automatic entry to the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay and the next three U.S. Mid-Am Championships, Tim's runner-up finish also allowed him to go directly to sectional qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.


      Rochester District Championships

      Monroe has hosted the the John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial Rochester District Championship nine times, the first, won by Jack Tucker in 1934. Recent winners include Brian Bombard in 1995 and Tony DiBitetto in 2002.


      New York State Amateur Championship

      Monroe hosted several New York State Championships including:  the 1959 Senior Women's State Amateur Championship, the 1979 Women's State Amateur Championship, the inagural 1963 Girl's Amateur Championship and the 2000 Men's State Amateur Championship.


      Monroe Invitational Championship

      Amateur Golf Championship at Monroe Golf Club Since 1937
      As for the Monroe Invitational Championship, or MIC, the event has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1937. Originally conceived as a gathering of the area's top amateurs, it has evolved into an annual showcase of the top amateur and collegiate talent throughout the country.
      Among the MIC's past champions are several players who subsequently went on to lucrative professional careers, including Rochester's own Terry Diehl, Brian Kamm and Jeff Sluman, as well as George Burns, Bob Friend, Nolan Henke and Chris DiMarco. Dustin Johnson, who won the MIC in 2007 has already won two events on the PGA Tour.

“Yours is surely one of the greatest Ross courses I have ever seen. I am aware of other Ross courses of greater renown than Monroe yet only know of one that is its match – and Pinehurst No. 2 had the distinct advantage of being the winter home of Ross for four decades.”
- Brian Silva, Past President,
American Golf Architects Association 

Donald Ross