In the Fall of 1929, the William J. Burke Memorial Golf Course in the southwest corner of campus opened for use of Notre Dame students, faculty, clergy, and friends of the University. The course was donated by Notre Dame Trustee William J. Burke, President of the Vulcan Last Corporation of Portsmouth, Ohio. Vulcan was involved in a wide variety of industries and its divisions included the Vulcan Golf Company and the Vulcan Aircraft Company. Burke never played the course – he died suddenly of a heart attack in July 1928.
Aerial view of campus with the Burke Golf Course in the foreground, c1933.
Construction of the golf course required the permanent closure of public access to Dorr Road, which ran east to west through South Quad.
Interest in the game began to grow around the turn of the 20th century. In 1901, a course was created on the north side of St. Mary’s Lake [Scholastic, 05/04/1901, page 522]. In the 1910s, students were known to play on the quad in front of Badin and Bond Halls. Otherwise, students had to venture off-campus to courses in South Bend. As with other sports such as baseball, the students organized golf clubs. The number of interested students continued to grow, which propelled the team to varsity minor sport status in 1923.
Male students playing golf on the Burke Memorial Golf Course with South Dining Hall in the background, c1930s
The 18-hole course was first shortened to accommodate the building of the Rockne Memorial in 1939. More land was taken in the 1950s for the construction of Pangborn and Fisher Halls. In 1995, the back nine was sacrificed for the construction of the West Quad dorms – O’Neill, Keough, McGlinn, and Welsh Family Halls. These new halls became necessary for the displaced male students of Grace and Flanner Halls when they were converted from residential halls to office space. The women of Siegfried and Knott Halls were moved to McGlinn and Welsh Family to balance the gender mix on West Quad.
Burke Memorial Golf Course – View of the first hole sign post with construction equipment in the background, 1995