History and Legacy
At the turn of the twentieth century, the island of Oahu was home to only three golf courses: Moanalua Golf Club (est. 1898), the Haleiwa Hotel Course (est. 1899), and the Manoa Golf Club (est. 1904). But as commerce and travel to the islands increased, so too did the demand for lifestyle activities: namely, golf. Popular for its convenient location, the Manoa Golf Club was the only course in Honolulu at the time — however, in an unfortunate turn of events, the course was closed to make way for housing development. With no golf presence inside city limits, the mantle as Honolulu's premier golf club remained vacant.
Upon his arrival in 1898, an enterprising young attorney named Wade Warren Thayer opened a law practice in Honolulu. Born in Michigan to a prominent American family with roots to Sussex, England, Thayer's sense of golf tradition inspired him as one of many who wished to see golf thrive in Hawaii. Observing what led to the closure of Manoa Golf Club, Thayer reasoned that the only way to ensure the perpetuity of the course was to purchase the land upon which it would permanently reside.
Originally demarcated by King Kamehameha III and conveyed to Dr. Thomas Rooke in 1849, the parcel of land known as Waolani, a 380-acre sprawl located in the mountains of Nu’uanu Valley, would eventually be inherited by Queen Emma, the Rooke family’s adopted daughter and dowager Queen of Hawaii, who regularly spent summers at the family’s property (the historic site now known as the Queen Emma Summer Palace). Nearly a decade and a half after the Queen’s passing, The Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawai’i decided in accordance with Dr. Rooke’s will to cede the property to Cresswell C.K. Rooke, who resided in England and was next in line to inherit the property. Ownership of the property eventually fell upon Rooke’s wife, Mary, following his death.
Today, Oahu Country Club is home to hundreds of members from all walks of life, many of whom share the same entrepreneurial spirit and love for the game of golf. Oahu Country Club remains the only private golf club in Hawaii to own the land to its property outright, ensuring that Thayer’s legacy lives on.