Through the great foresight of L.W. St. John, (OSU Athletic Director, 1912-1947) Ohio State University can claim two golf courses considered by many to be masterpieces in classical golf course architecture. The Scarlet course is rated as one of the top collegiate courses in the nation. Dr. Alister MacKenzie, a world-renowned golf course architect, submitted the original routing plans to L.W. St. John on January 6, 1931 and construction of the Scarlet course was overseen by famed architect Perry Maxwell. The Scarlet was completed in 1938 and the Gray was finished later in 1940.
The dedication ceremony was held on May 18, 1940, when Bob Kepler, (golf coach from 1938-1965) Chick Evans, Blanche Sohl, and Patty Berg played 18 holes on the Scarlet course. Patty Berg, one of the four charter members of the LPGA Hall of Fame, returned to OSU in 1990 to conduct a clinic at the annual OSU Pro-AM Tournament.
In the 1930’s only a handful of universities had golf facilities and most of those were eastern schools. Building two golf courses when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression was quite an accomplishment. The labor for the construction of the Golf Course was provided under a government subsidized program known as the Works Progress Administration, a program designed to create jobs during the depression. Few schools can boast the proud association The Ohio State University has enjoyed with the game of golf. With the many outstanding players and professionals spawned at this great facility, the name Ohio State has become synonymous with collegiate golf.
In 1941, Ohio State made history when it hosted the first ever women’s collegiate golf championship on the Scarlet course. In 1982, Ohio State hosted the final Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Division I National Championship. In 1991, Ohio State hosted the NCAA Women’s Championship, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the national tournament for women on the course on which it was conceived. The women’s program later went on to host the 1997 and 2006 tournaments as well. The Scarlet Course has also played host to 10 men’s National Championships. Over the years the Ohio State Scarlet course has been the site of several U.S. Open qualifiers, U.S. Amateur qualifiers and the 1977 USGA Junior Championship.
In 2005 and 2006 the Scarlet Course underwent a major restoration project overseen by former Buckeye legend Jack Nicklaus. Jack concentrated on restoring the course to the way Alister MacKenzie originally intended it to play. The bunkers were redesigned to appear more like the classic MacKenzie designs at his numerous other courses. The course was also lengthened to play more than 7,400 yards and the par was changed to 71. The driving range was also enlarged and a short-game practice area was built for both of the varsity golf teams as well as another one for the members of the club.