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Old Salem Golf Club

2500 South River Road
Salem, Or 97302
(503) 363-6652

Playing golf at Salem Golf Course becomes a nature walk with all its natural beauty. Trees line the fairways and numerous wildlife (deer, squirrels, geese, and ducks with hawks and osprey flying overhead) can be seen. What's the story behind this desirable place of relaxation?

Back in 1925, local businessmen started this venture by donating $250 each to purchase the John Hughes Land Grant to develop a first class golf course. One man, Ercel Kay, the grandson of the founder of Thomas Kay Woolen Mills of Salem, brought it all together. Two hundred acres were purchased at $160 per acre including the surrounding land to prevent any housing that would obstruct the beauty.

The first nine holes were finished in 1927, and the second nine in 1928.  On the 6th tee was a Chinese farm.  A four-acre apple orchard occupies the center bordering on three fairways. When the golf course first opened to the public, the green fees were 25 cents for the nine holes and 40 cents for the full 18 holes.  In 1965, son of Ercel, and great-grandson of the Mission Mill owner, Thomas Kay, bought the course from his father.

Over the last 75 years, the original buildings have been remodeled and enlarged many times. The club has rebuilt most of the greens and tees and added exten-sively to its practice facilities.  It remains today, virtually unchanged, a semi-pri-vate facility enjoyed by the public as well as its 250 members.

Compiled and written by Shirley Herrmann

Interview with Thomas Kay, great grandson of Thomas Kay, founder of Thomas Kay Woolen Mills, 2001



Ercel Kay, Salem Golf Club, 1927

Ercel Kay 1889-1965. Founder of Salem Golf Club, 1927. Kay was a three times finalist Oregon Amateur Championship (1919), before wooden tees!
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Ilahee Hills Country Club, 1924

Ilahee Hills Country Club photo, 1924
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Aerial view of Salem Golf Club
Aerial view of new club house and 18th green at  Old Salem Golf Club
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