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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Bunker Hill Golf Course. Photo courtesy: City of Dubuque
Bunker Hill Golf Course. In 1927 Bunker Hill Golf Course was established by Louis B. Estabrooks. The former registrar and fiscal supervisor of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery of Loyola University purchased 120 acres of land of which all but 18 were within the city of Dubuque. From this he had the course constructed and a home built so that he could give the course "his personal attention." He had a club house built for the golfers and established fees considered low even at the time. The week day fee was fifty cents; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays was one dollar; and a season pass with unlimited golf cost twenty-five dollars. (1)

Bunker Hill Golf Course was officially opened to the public on June 19, 1927. Plans called for a player to give some time each day to instruction that would be held after 5:00 p.m. (2) Late in the summer of 1929 it was made an 18 hole course (3)

The course was sold in 1941 to the Dubuque Club. Officers of the club announced that the organization would move from its location in the DUBUQUE BUILDING. Prior to this, the residence at the course would be remodeled and enlarged. There was not to be a rearrangement of the course until the closing of the 1941 season. (4) Plans then called for the establishment of an "in" and "out" course with both sets of nine holes beginning and ending at the club house. (5) In addition to the golf course there would be facilities for trap and skeet shooting, tennis table tennis, horseshoe pitching, bowling, billiards and a riding stable. (6)

Despite the fact that many changes were planned for the future, the name of the club was immediately changed to "Dubuque Club on Bunker Hill." Because use of the golf course would be limited to members, a committee was organized to act upon applications for membership. (7)

On February 5, 1951, the WAHLERT FOUNDATION and a Chamber of Commerce committee purchased the course for $125,000 presented the deed to the course to the City of Dubuque. The city was to maintain the eighteen-hole course and make the grounds available for recreation. (8)

By 1960, Bunker Hill had become a popular site for snow skiing near the 17th fairway. In January it was announced that the City Recreation Commission had voted to purchase a new tow and have it in operation by February. The tow was to consist of a gasoline motor and cylindrical drum anchored to a platform at the bottom of the hill, a long rope, and a tower at the top of the hill with a system of reels and pulleys to prevent the rope from from slipping. Skiers grabbed the rope and were pulled to the top of the hill in a standing position. Tobogganing posed a hazard for skiers so it was to be moved to other sites. (9)

The golf course layout was changed between 1962 and 1964. Improvements included 12 new putting greens, 14 new tees and a great deal of clearing, grading and sodding. The present course had been regarded as dangerous because fairways ran parallel to each other at several points. (10) By the time the realignment was completed, play had increased nearly 4,000 fro the 27,598 who played in 1960. In 1969 green fees totaled nearly $38,000. (11)

In 1995 the Dubuque Park and Recreation Commission proposed selling part of Bunker Hill Golf Course for residential development, establishing a smaller Bunker Hill Municipal Golf Course, and establishing a new 18-hole golf course on the edge of the community. (12)

Image courtesy: Herb McClean

In 2013 with rounds of golf declining nationally, Bunker Hill authorities were able to cite a slight increase over the previous three years with over 30,000 rounds played annually. The 18-hole course is 5,316 yards long from the championship tees. (13)

The 1968 Dubuque City Directory listed 2200 Bunker Hill Road.



1. "Estabrooks Will Soon Come to Dubuque to Build Golf Links," Telegraph Herald, February 27, 1927, p. 19. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=unFFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mbwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4938,3206098&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

2. "Bunker Hill Golf Course is Opened," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, June 20, 1927, p. 10. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=859FAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vLwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6732,6478325&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

3. Untitled article, Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, August 24, 1930, p. 23

4. "Bunker Hill Golf Course Deal Closed," Telegraph Herald, April 15, 1941, p. 17. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=QhNRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V8oMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4478,1542521&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

5. "Plans Drafted For Extensive Improvements," Telegraph Herald, April 20, 1941, p. 18. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=RRNRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V8oMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2496,2166263&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

6. Ibid.

7. "Bunker Hill Golf Course Deal Closed."

8. "Bunker Hill Links Given City," Telegraph Herald, February 6, 1951, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MBZRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=w9AMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1545,1711547&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

9. "Ski Tow Is Promised For Bunker Hill Slope," Telegraph Herald, January 31, 1960, Dubuque News p. 3

10. "Bunker Hill's New Course Opening Set," Telegraph Herald, July 10, 1962, p. 1

11. Lagerstrom, Hal, "Sports," Telegraph-Herald, April 12, 1970, p. 52

12. Dickel, Dean. "Wish List: Sell Part of Bunker Hill," Telegraph Herald, November 11, 1995, p. 1. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=41RFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3rsMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6388,1994420&dq=bunker+hill+golf+course+dubuque&hl=en

13. Reber, Craig. "Looking for a Course of Action," Telegraph Herald, May 12, 2013, p. 7A