Sunday, October 25, 2009

Girls Got Game With Obama

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Stop the press: Barack Obama played golf with a woman. It’s apparently not enough for Obama to be surrounded two daughters, a wife and a mother-in-law at home, have Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State or appoint Sonia Sotomayor as Supreme Court Justice. No, he must play golf with them as well.

Yesterday the front page of the Sunday NY Times led with an article dissecting the Obama administration “boys club”, where “some high-profile sectors of the White House — economics and national security, for instance — are filled with men and exude an unmistakable male vibe”. It complained that ladies weren’t allowed to join in and shoot hoops at a famed presidential b-ball game. Plus, no women have played golf with Obama since he became president, but that a senior White House aide, Melody Barnes, was due to play this weekend.

Now whether it was the NY Times article that prompted the tokenism or not, Barnes teed off with the president in surely the most widely reported act of presidential social togetherness since the beer summit.

Journalist Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times deemed it worthy of three separate pool reports , almost like a live-blog of the golf game. It lead with the wonderful headline ‘Obama golfs with Melody Barnes, first female in presidential foursome’:

“It’s a crisp, beautiful fall day with the leaves changing colors along the drive from Washington to the base, in Virginia. Obama was observed walking out of the White House at 12:18 p.m. wearing a black short sleeve shirt. Barnes was wearing a baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and beige pants. Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director, was seen loading golf clubs.”

The NY Times reported that “Melody C. Barnes, a White House aide, broke through President Obama’s green ceiling Sunday afternoon”.

“Another crack in the gender glass ceiling” said the LA Times, with their article entitled ‘A first! President Obama actually golfs with a woman!’

As Politico noted, “Who says newspapers don’t have any influence anymore?” Now if only that influence was used for focusing on issues that actually matter. Amber Jamieson

Obama golfing now with Melody Barnes. Pool report 1

Lynn Sweet on October 25, 2009 12:55 PM

From Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times/Politics Daily


President Obama's motorcade pulled in the gate at the U.S. Army's Fort Belvoir at 1:04 p.m. eastern after rolling out of the White House at 12:23 p.m.

Melody Barnes, President Obama's chief domestic policy advisor is among those golfing with President Obama at the Fort Belvoir golf course. This is noteworthy because of the spat of stories--the latest on the front page of the Sunday New York Times--about Obama playing basketball recently with men and no females. I just e-mailed White House Deputy Press Secretary William Burton asking him if Barnes was the first woman to play golf with Obama since taking office and Burton's reply was "not true."

It's a crisp, beautiful fall day with the leaves changing colors along the drive from Washington to the base, in Virginia.

Obama was observed walking out of the White House at 12:18 p.m. wearing a black short sleeve shirt. Barnes was wearing a baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and beige pants. Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director, was seen loading golf clubs.

The motorcade stopped for lights leaving D.C. along New York Avenue before hitting the highway.

At 1:06 p.m. the motorcade with the president pulled up to the club house at Fort Belvoir and the van with the pool peeled off. The pool arrived a few minutes later at a Fort Belvoir food court, where we are holding.

Lynn Sweet

Obama gets grief for male-only basketball games
By Jimmy Orr | 10.25.09

President Obama’s in hot water again. And it’s that same old nemesis.
No, not Rush Limbaugh. The other really round culprit. You know, the basketball. Some critics are upset because he’s not more inclusive when he participates in the sport.
It’s not the first time the president has received criticism for his interest in basketball. Or his preference for men’s basketball, that is. Last March, a columnist for USA Today roundly criticizedthe president for not filling out a NCAA women’s basketball bracket — like he did for their male counterparts.

No girls allowed

Now the kerfuffle is over a game the president hosted at the White House last week. Although he reached out to Members of Congress and his Cabinet to play, all of the invitees had one thing in common — they were guys.

It’s certainly understandable why the president loves the game. After all, he’s from Indonesia Chicago where the greatest player ever to play the game graced the court. And if you don’t remember that, Michael Jordan will remind you of that (and then he’ll criticize you and everyone else for, well,everything).

But, shouldn’t the president extend invites to both sexes?

Old boys club?

NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie asked him that earlier this week. She asked him if his preference for all-male hoops sends the wrong signal. Or as she put it, “Some people might look at it and say, ‘Gosh, there’s the old boys club again.’”
That’s something the president dismisses.

“I gotta say, I think this is bunk,” Obama told Guthrie. “Basically, the House of Representatives has a basketball game and they had wanted to play here at the White House court and we invited them.”

“I don’t know if there are women who— were Members of Congress who play basketball on a regular basis,” Obama continued. “I don’t think there are. You know, I don’t think sends any kind of message or signal whatsoever.”

Male vs. Female

That’s where there’s plenty of disagreement. A conversation on MSNBC’s “Cup of Joe” last week might provide some insight as to how people are viewing the issue.
The host of the show, Joe Scarborough, agrees with the president. Holding his head in his hands at one point during Wednesday’s program, the former Republican congressman seemed genuinely pained that his colleague — Guthrie — spent any portion of her one-on-one with the president on the issue.

Comparing the topic to flaky “balloon boy” coverage, Scarborough told Guthrie, “Speaking for all men — that was bunk. That question was bunk. What were you thinking?”

“This is a really interesting issue,” Guthrie began.

“No, it’s not,” Scarborough interrupted.

Guthrie explained that the disagreement over the issue seemed to break down across gender lines.

“Most men I talk to say, ‘What’s the big deal? So a guy can’t play basketball?’” she said. “But many, many serious thinking women say, ‘Let’s call this for it is: This is a networking opportunity. This is a political event.”

The Round Mound of Mikulski?

No matter what Guthrie could say, Scarborough wouldn’t buy it (see video below). At one point, he sounded like the terminally politically incorrect Michael Scott from the popular TV show “The Office.”

“Come on, what are you going to do? Invite Barbara Mikulski over to play basketball with you?” he asked.

Fans of the TV show might remember when Michael was putting together an office basketball team to match up against the warehouse workers. When his rotund middle-aged colleague Phyllis asked to play, Michael — like Scarborough — scoffed.
Of course, Michael changed his mind when Phyllis then volunteered to be a cheerleader.

“Oh yuck. That’s worse than you playing,” Michael said to stunned silence. Then he backtracked and promised Phyllis a spot on the team as an alternate.

As goes Scranton, so goes the White House

No one is suggesting that Obama is a presidential version of the regional manager for Dunder-Mifflin. But, judging how his press secretary responded to a question about the game, we’re guessing that the president, like Michael, will eventually come around.

“The President obviously is someone who, as the father of two young daughters, has an avid interest in their competing against anybody on the playing field. The President has certainly played basketball and other sports with women in the past, and I anticipate he’ll do so in the future.”

Yes, she can: Obama's golfers a men's club no more
(AP) WASHINGTON — The White House scored a stroke for gender equality in sports on Sunday.

President Barack Obama's chief domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes, became the first woman to play in the president's golf foursome. She joined the president, Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director, and Dr. Eric Whitaker, the executive vice president at the University of Chicago Medical Center, for a round on the Army's Fort Belvoir golf course.

Obama has been criticized for playing basketball with men and no women, most recently in Sunday's New York Times.

White House deputy press secretary William Burton confirmed the first. "He golfed with women on the campaign trail but not until Melody this year," Burton said.

Obama and woman go golfing (just like Adam Sandler and Bob Barker)

By Jimmy Orr

This should take some sting out of the earlier criticism.

President Obama went golfing this afternoon. No, he wasn’t being criticized for not golfing enough. He was getting some flak for not including women in his White House basketball games.

So what’s he do this afternoon? Asks a female staffer to join him for 18 holes. A big deal? Maybe, but only because since becoming president his golfing partners have all been men.

But that all changed today as the president’s chief domestic policy advisor — Melody Barnes — joined him.

As for the game itself, there’s no play-by-play. The pool reporters aren’t like that tall Frankenstein-like guy in the movie “Happy Gilmore.” They can’t follow the president on every hole.

So, therefore we don’t know if Obama and Barnes got into it like Bob Barker and Adam Sandler in said movie. Although it’s safe to say that probably didn’t happen. News would probably leak out.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a bit of controversy about the game — although it’s really, really minor. The pool reporter, Lynn Sweet from the Chicago Sun Times, asked the White House if Barnes was the first woman to play golf with Obama since he became president.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said that was “not true.”
But when asked who the other women were, Burton did a 180.”

I was wrong about this — all apologies,” he told Sweet. “He golfed with women on the campaign trail but not until Melody this year. Sorry to all the people who were unwittingly misled by what I gave the pooler.”

Hey, we’ll always invite you to golf with us (even if you three-putt every hole)

New York Magazine

Barack Golfs With Pretty Lady

President Obama has played a lot of golf since moving into the White House in January, but it wasn't until yesterday that a woman played with him. Obama's chief domestic policy adviser andknown hottie Melody Barnes joined him on the links today, where she carried a golf bag that was exactly the same size that she is.

The timing of Obama's invitation is a tad suspect. The Washington press corps has criticized him over the past week for his frattiness, from the all-dudes golf outings to the all-bros basketball games. Then the Times ran an article today titled "Man’s World at White House? No Harm, No Foul, Aides Say," that called Obama a "First Guy's Guy."

"Since being elected, he has demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of college hoops on ESPN, indulged a craving for weekend golf, expressed a preference for adopting a 'big rambunctious dog' over a 'girlie dog' and hoisted beer in a peacemaking effort."

So yeah, maybe Barack is kind of the Bro-in-Chief. But today is about Melody Barnes, who accomplished an unprecedented feat—she broke through the grass ceiling.

Woman joins Obama on the links [Washington Post]

By: Adam K. Raymond

Thursday, October 22, 2009

12 Yr. old Mark Benevento, Jr. Out-Hits Tiger

Boy, 12, Out-Drives Tiger Woods

by Tom Henderson

Categories: In The News, Weird But True,Amazing Kids, Sports|main|dl3|link2|

It doesn't matter if you're the fastest gun or the greatest brain surgeon. Someday, some kid is going to come along and show you up.

That day came for golf legend Tiger Woods on Oct. 4. He was out-driven by a 12-year-old kid.

A video from NBC Philadelphia tells the tale. Woods was in North Carolina to open a new golf course and hit a few tee-shots down the fairway. Two of them landed in the trees. Then he asked if anyone in the crowd thought they could do better.

Mark Benevento Jr. of New Jersey stepped forward. The pre-teen shot the ball 200 yards, right down the middle. Woods was stunned. "Do that again," he said. "We've got to see that again."

So the lad did it again.

"I was surprised because I thought I was going to top it or something," the middle schooler told the NBC affiliate. "[Woods] was clapping. He was really surprised that I could actually hit it."

More than surprised, he was duly impressed. "Well done, bud. Well done," he told Mark. "I'm proud of you."

Mark's father, Mark Benevento Sr., owns the Great Bay Country Club in Somers Point, N.J. He told NBC his son usually shoots in the high 70s. The father and son traveled to North Carolina to hear Woods speak at the first-ever Tiger Woods-designed golf course, still under development at The Cliffs at High Carolina.

"He [Woods] called me from a crowd of, like, 100 people," Mark told NBC. "I wasn't really nervous, but I got nervous when I stepped up."

You couldn't tell from his performance.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

JFK's Private Course at Glen Ora

After the election, the President-elect leased a 400 acre horse farm called Glen Ora, which was near Middleburg, Virginia, a two hour drive or twenty minute helicopter ride from the White House.

They liked it there, and they purchased some land nearby and lived at Glen Ora during the construction of their own home, which they called Wexford, named after the town of Kennedy’s Irish roots.

While at Glen Ora, they tried to enjoy life outside of the Washington limelight. As Sally B. Smith wrote "…For Jack’s forty-fourth birthday on May 29, Jackie conspired with Paul Fout to create a three-hold golf course at Glen Ora – ‘rather long & difficult ones – so it will be a challenge to play and not just so easy that one gets tired of it.’"

"To further amuse Jack, she asked that the holes have Confederate flags that would ‘not be visible from the road.’ The Bradlees visited Glen Ora on May 20 for a birthday celebration, and Ben and JFK inaugurated the course, which had grown to four holes ‘9,000 square yards of pasture, filled with small hills, big rocks, and even a swamp,’ Bradlee recalled. JFK ‘shot the course record, a thirty-seven for four holes.’"

From Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House By Sally Bedell Smith. (P. 201)


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Crump Cup at Pine Valley

2009 Crump Cup at Pine Valley

It's mid-September, and for the only weekend of the year, Pine Valley, the greatest golf course in the world, is open to the public.

As one of the most prestigious amateur golf trophies, the Crump Cup has a history that goes back some 85 years, and named after the former Atlantic City Country Club member who designed and built Pine Valley.

This amateur invitational was matched only by the Sonny Frazer Cup by the names of those who played for it and earned it, but when Bally bought the Atlantic City Country Club the Sonny Fraser Cup competition was discontinued.

While George Crump envisioned Pine Valley as a golf club that could be enjoyed by everyone, especially families, Crump died before the course was complete, and an Irish architect was brought in to complete the last few holes. The private golf club that subsequently grew at Pine Valley was somewhat divorced from Crump's vision of a family golf club, and excluded women, children and blacks, and probably Jews too.

Women still aren't allowed to become members, and only a few blacks have been members, and the public is not permitted in the clubhouse, and only on the grounds to walk the course during the Crump Cup competition.

The last time they had a major championship that was open to the public was a Walker Cup, decades ago, and that has not happened again, nor will it, most likely, ever.

But Buddy Marucci, of Villanova, Pa., the Captain of this year's victorious US Walker Cup team, was the runner up in the Senior Division, losing 3 & 2 to Pat Tallent of Vienna, Virginia.

Skip Berkmeyer of Saint Louis won the 85th annual Crump Memorial Tournament at Pine Valley, defeating defending champion Micahel Muehr 2 up in the semifinal match and defeating Gene Elliott of West Des Moines, Iowa, 1 up. Elliot had defeated Michael McCoy, also from West Des Moines, in the semifinal in 19 holes.

According to reports from the scene, Berkmeyer won both matches with a birdie on the final hole.

Like the Crump Cup tournament at Pine Valley, the Sonny Fraser tournament at Atlantic City Country Club was a very special amateur invitational, with many of the participants in one tournament also playing in the other, as they were usually a week apart.

Sonny Fraser was the son of James "Jolly Jim" Fraser, the golf professional at the Seaview Country Club, who when his father died, was taken under the wing of Seaview owner Clarence Geist.

A natural at golf, and growing up on the course, Sonny Fraser was the founder of the Atlantic City Race Course and was a powerful politician, the head of the State Assembly and was going to run for governor when he was stricken by disease. Even after he was diagnosed, Fraser started the tournament, inviting all the best amateur golfers he knew, and won the inagural Cup that bears his name.

Dr. Cary Middlecoff won the following year, while Julus Boros, Eddie Furgal and other famous golfers played and won the tournament over the years.

The Sonny Fraser Memorial Cup was a popular and important amateur tournament that should be revived.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stiggy Hodgson at Merion - Walker Cup 2009


Stiggy Hodgson at Merion, September 13, during the 2009 Walker Cup.
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Photo: AP/Mel Evans

How can you not love a sensational new golfer with the name Stiggy Hodgson, even if he does happen to be a Brit.

Stiggy made the team, and took two matches with Irish mate Kearney, but spent more time talking about how he got his name than how he played golf.

Here's how the Irish Independent reported it:

"DESPITE the best efforts of Royal Dublin's Niall Kearney, the United States easily retained the Walker Cup with a 16.5-9.5 victory over Great Britain and Ireland at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania."

"After storming into a 8-4 lead on Saturday, the hosts won three of the four Foursomes early yesterday morning to leave them needing just a further two points from the afternoon's 10 singles matches to lift the amateur title."

"The Americans had little difficulty securing the trophy as Rickie Fowley beat Matt Haines on the 17th hole and Cameron Tringale recorded an emphatic eight and six victory over Luke Goddard. However there was some consolation for Kearney who was one of the shining lights for the visitors over the weekend and won his singles match against Nathan Smith 3&2 last night."

"Kearney and English teenage sensation Stiggy Hodgson developed a strong partnership over the weekend and on Saturday morning, they registered a 3&1 victory in the last of the team matches to give Great Britain and Ireland their first point."

What was that you said?

Can you translate that into American?

The Yanks kicked butt, again, over the best amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland, but a young bloke named Stiggy Hodgson and a Mick from Dublin saved face in Philadelphia.

Merion Golf Club is in Philadelphia by the way, the City of Brotherly Love, and Redemption.

Merion is an historic golf course, over a century old, was once the Merion Cricket Club, and it also gives its name to the Merion Inn, the best and one of the oldest restaurants in Cape May (New Jersey).

It's also where many great tournaments and championships have been held, including the 1930 US Amateur, which completed Bobby Jones Grand Slam sweep, the 1950 US Open won by Ben Hogan after surviving a debilitating car crash (also see Hy Peskin's pix, the most famous photo in golf), and Merion is where Johnny McDermott witnessed his last US Open in 1971 when he met Arnold Palmer.

The Merion course has seen some historic golf, its clubhouse is legendary, and its history transends the Walker Cup, which almost went by unnoticed by the Mainstream media and even local press.

But it was covered by Joe Juliano at the Philadelphia Inquirer (founded by Ben Franklyn, who didn't invent the golf tee), and thank God for Joe, because he answered the question on everyone's mind, even those who don't give a rat about golf.

How did Stiggy get his name?

How 'Stiggy' got his name

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Juliano wrote:


His name is Eamonn Hodgson, but everyone throughout Europe who has played golf with and against the 19-year-old Englishman knows him as Stiggy.

So how did he get that nickname?

Hodgson, who was part of Great Britain and Ireland's two Walker Cup victories yesterday, explained that when he was 21/2 years old, his father needed to haul off some trash, so he accompanied him to the Dumpster.

"I was sort of messing around trying to help, being knee-high and stuff, and I fell in," Hodgson said. "I was rolling around, and I found a golf club. He thought it was a putter, but it turned out to be a mashie niblick, a 7-iron. That's how I started golf.

"As the story goes, there used to be a cartoon in England - I don't think it's run any more - called Stig of the Dump, so they called me Stiggy from thereafter."

The cartoon was based on the Stig of the Dump children's novel by Clive King published in 1963


Thanks Joe, I'm glad you asked.

And Stiggy Hodgson and his man Niall Kearney are two typical Walker Cuppers, young amateurs on the way to becoming professionals, but holding out in the amateur ranks long enough to play in the Walker Cup, in honor of Queen and Country. And they did a good job of it and should be proud.

But they probably don't know anything about the Merion's history, at least not until they got there, and I hope somebody showed them around the clubhouse and told them a few stories.

Arnold Palmer didn't play in the Walker Cup, but jumped right into the professional ranks after taking the US Amateur title.

Others however, like Tiger Woods, and this young class of Americans college kids, and they pretty much are kids, from both American and Great Britain and Ireland, with only one guy over thirty making the team as an alternate, if needed. Even thought they're all young, they know that the Walker Cup is all about history and traditions, and if they didn't know, I'm sure Buddy Marucci explained it to them.

Of course when they started these friendly matches between nations, which has fostered good will and some tremendous sport over the decades, it was a totally different game. When they began, the skilled and mature amateurs were the best golfers in the world and Great Britain and Ireland taking most of the matches. The first dozen US Opens were won by older British and Scott professionals, but most golfers were amateurs and so many of the best golfers were also amateurs.

Now things are reversed, and not only do the Yanks have a commanding lead, but the best players in the world are now professionals, and the best amateurs are really good teenagers, many of whom will enter the pro ranks when they get out of school.

Only a few, like Buddy Marucci, America's coach, are dedicated amateurs in the style and spirit of Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones, and stay amateurs their whole life.

The youth movement in men's golf is matched by the women, I mean young girls, who have made waves in the game, and will continue to do so.

This new wave of amazing young golfers also opens up the possibility that, after nearly a century, one of the oldest and most respected records in sports could be broken. That would be 19 year old Johnny McDermott's 1911 US Open championship, which made him the youngest, as well as first native born American to win the national championship, which he did back-to-back (the sign of a true champion) in 1911-1912.

In 1971, a few months before McDermott died, his sister drove him to Merion to see the US Open. She left him in the Pro Shop while she took care of some business, and while she was gone, a young assistant pro thought the old man was in the way. He appeared disshelved, in a suit he'd had for decades, and wasn't recognized, and was told to go stand outside as he was in the way.

Someone then told the assistant pro, "Hey kid, you just kicked a two time winner of the US Open out of the pro shop."

Arnold Palmer saw what happened and went over and shook McDermott's hand and talked quietly with him.

Palmer later said he asked him for some advice and McDermott said, "All you can do is practice."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shady Rest Golf at Scotch Plains

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Shady Rest in Scotch Plains was first African-American club of its kind

Many thanks to Vicki Hyman for coming up with this gem of a photo, and story.

Althea Gibson, mentioned in the article, played in the US Women's Open at ACCC.

Before a black doctor from North Jersey invented the golf tee, you would have to pinch a little bit of sand from the sandbox to make your own tee. I wonder if the black doc who invented the golf tee was connected to this club? - Bill Kelly

Posted by Vicki Hyman/The Star-Ledger February 19, 2009 5:44PM

Categories: Black History Month, Must-see stories

Shady Rest was the first African-American club of its kind in the U.S., offering daytime sports and nighttime socials

On fine summer days, the Packards and Studebakers would pull up Jersualem Road in Scotch Plains, and men lugging golf clubs and women in crisp tennis whites would bound into the Shady Rest Golf and Country Club.

They'd play nine holes, or watch their kids practice on the clay tennis court, or go skeet-shooting. Maybe they thought of nothing but the prospect of cocktails on the wraparound porch, Miss Lillian's famous fried chicken and potato salad in the club dining room, or the big band that would play in the ballroom later that evening.
Nothing unusual about well-to-do Americans enjoying a summertime idyll. Except that all the members at Shady Rest were African-American, and this was the 1930s.

Shady Rest was the first African-American golf and country club in the United States. There were other black-owned or operated golf courses at the time, but none combined golf with other amenities typically associated with country club life, such as tennis, horseback riding, locker rooms and a dining room, according to Lawrence Londino, a Montclair State University professor who produced a documentary called "A Place For Us" about Shady Rest, and John Shippen, the resident golf pro who is believed to have been the first American-born golfer to play in the U.S. Open.

"I guess we didn't at the time, but now we know how important it was," says Annie Westbrook Brantley, 88, of Roselle, who grew up near Shady Rest and who met her husband there in 1938, while Duke Ellington played "One O'Clock Jump."

The clubhouse, which dates to the mid-1700s, began life as a farmhouse. It briefly served as a tavern until 1900, when the Westfield Golf Club turned the surrounding farmland into a golf course, according to Ethel Washington, the history programs coordinator for the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

When the Westfield club merged with a Cranford club, plans were drawn to build a new 18-hole course at what would become the Echo Lake Country Club. A group of African-American investors called the Progressive Realty Co. bought the property in 1921 and opened Shady Rest.

The Jerseyland neighborhood around the club was predominantly African-American, but the club drew members from across northern and central Jersey, with guests driving in from as far as Manhattan and Brooklyn for a day in the country.

Shady Rest also featured prominently on the Jersey musical circuit, drawing big names like Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and Newark's Sarah Vaughan.

Brantley and her sister, Rosabelle Westbrook Johnson, remember Chick Webb introducing a young singer named Ella Fitzgerald, who delighted the crowd with "A-Tisket, A-Tasket."

"We'd get a chance to see all of them," Brantley says. "The place would be packed. We would be dancing. It was a great time. All the boys came up there to meet the girls."

Back then she was too young to attend the dances, but Yvonne Cooley Whaley remembers her brother driving her to the clubhouse and parking outside so they could hear the music from the masters. Some white kids from the surrounding area did the same: Laura Swidersky of Scotch Plains says her uncles and cousin, who studied classical music, would hang around outside the clubhouse, "spending many a Saturday night enjoying the jazz that they rarely were able to imitate."

W.E.B. DuBois spoke there. The clubhouse was a popular spot for fashion shows and luncheons put on by African-American community groups, and it hosted a multitude of weddings.

Joan Cooley Carter's family moved to Westfield from Jersey City in the mid-1930s, and soon Joan was toting a tennis racket around wherever she went. Shady Rest is where Carter, now 77 and living in Carmel, Calif., met her husband, a member of the Cosmpolitan Tennis Club, the most prestigious black tennis club in New York.
Carter, whose older sister is Yvonne Whaley, vividly recalls another competitor from the Cosmopolitan, a tall, wiry and athletic young woman with a "cannonball serve" who "knocked the socks off everybody."

"You could tell she was really going to go somewhere," Cooley remembers. "She walked all over me, then looked at me and said, 'Next.'"

That woman was Althea Gibson, who became the first African-American to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Shady Rest was also the home course to Shippen, another barrier-breaker who is not as well known as Gibson. Shippen may have been the first American-born golf pro, not just African-American pro, because until 1896, when Shippen made his professional debut at the U.S. Open at Long Island's Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, only European-born players had ever competed. Despite a threatened boycott, Shippen played in the tournament, coming in fifth.

"Most people only think of Tiger Woods, but here was somebody who was just as good over 100 years ago," says Thurman Simmons Sr., the chairman of the John Shippen Foundation. "If he had won that tournament at Shinnecock, we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

Shippen served as the club's golf pro and groundskeeper from 1931 to his retirement in 1960, only four years after the Professional Golfers Association rescinded its so-called Caucasian-only membership rule.

In Barbara J. Kukla's book, "Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-1950," Shady Rest is described by one musician as the place "where all the rich black folks used to go," but many of those who remember the club were too young at the time to be aware of any class division. "There were a number of people that I knew who never went to Shady Rest and looked upon it as, well, something that they were not going to be able to participate in," Whaley says. "I don't know why they felt that."

Roberta Thaxton, 73, of Orange, says that her parents were not that financially well-off, but they were big believers in culture and apparently felt the $15 to $25 annual membership fee was money well spent.

A mounting tax burden, the Great Depression, and conflicts between two groups of investors led to financial problems, and Scotch Plains Township acquired the Shady Rest property through a tax lien foreclosure in 1938. The country club continued as a focal point of African-American social life through the 1940s and 1950s. In 1964, the town took over operations, renamed it Scotch Hills Country Club, and opened it to all.

The second floor of the building has been badly neglected, and the exterior has been so altered -- it's now clad in vinyl siding, the gracious wraparound porch long gone -- that it doesn't qualify for recognition on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also on Preservation New Jersey's list of endangered historic properties because at one point, the town had decided to tear down the building and replace it with a recreation center for seniors.

Richard Bousquet, who runs the Historical Society of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, says that the building may be extensively renovated to house the senior center, with some space reserved for an exhibit about Shady Rest's history and Shippen's legacy, although the project is on hold for now.

"I miss it really," says Whaley, who now lives in Edison. "That was really a time in my childhood that I thoroughly enjoyed. There's nothing like that out there now. You have to understand, I'm 80 years old, so my days of running around and looking and going to find Duke Ellington and Count Basie are practically over. My sister and my brothers and I keep talking about Shady Rest, and my kids say, 'We don't have anything like that.'"

Vicki Hyman may be reached at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Obama Plays Farm Neck Golf Club

President Obama begins vacation on Martha's Vineyard with round of golf


Monday, August 24th 2009, 6:40 PM

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. - President Obama has been known to talk some trash on the basketball court, but on the golf course he leaves pride behind.

"I just want to say ahead of time that I am terrible," the First Duffer told a crowd of onlookers Monday as he began his vacation on celebrity-studded Martha's Vineyard with a round of golf. "Thank you."

With that, Obama stepped up to the first tee at the Farm Neck Golf Club, took two casual practice swings, then clubbed his drive a solid 200 yards or more - and into the woods left of the fairway.

The crowd cheered anyway, and Obama - dressed in a black golf shirt, brown pants, a beige cap and two-tone golf shoes - acknowledged his gallery with a small bow.

"Look at that - no mulligan," one woman exclaimed after Obama - said to be a stickler for the rules - declined to take a do-over.

Obama golfs regularly, but almost never in front of an audience. Experts on hand for Monday's rare peek at his form declared themselves impressed - to a point.

"He has a naturally athletic golf swing, very well-coordinated," said Farm Neck golf pro Michael Zoll, a PGA member who watched Obama warm up. "He does what few golfers do, and that is he trusts his wrists at the top of his backswing. And he generates a lot of club head speed not by trying to muscle the ball, but as a result of the natural timing he has."

On the other hand . . .

"He did push the ball to the left," noted Zoll, "and that came from his picking his club up, as opposed to swinging his arms more freely. . . . That kept the club face slightly open at impact."

Left unknown was the President's final score Monday in a round that included included UBS CEO Robert Wolf, Chicago pal Eric Whitaker and White House aide Marvin Nicholson. Once the foursome left the first tee, Secret Service agents kept the public and the press away.

Obama's sporting day also included a round of tennis with First Lady Michelle Obama at the family's rented 28-acre compound.

The President has no calls or meetings on his schedule at the moment, presidential spokesman Bill Burton said, but he is staying up-to-date with developments on the economy, health care and foreign policy.

Burton hit back at Republican critics who said Obama should forgo his week-long vacation when many Americans are struggling economically.

"As I recall, the previous President took quite a bit of vacation time himself, and I don't think anyone bemoaned that," Burton told reporters, referring to George W. Bush's month-long summer getaways. "I think it's important for the President, as with anybody, to take a little time, spend time with his family, and recharge his batteries."

Obama's plan for the week is not to have one, Burton said. "You know, he's on vacation, so everything is a little bit loose," Burton said. "You know, you wake up, you have some breakfast, you work out and then you decide, oh, what do I feel like doing today? He's doing that just like anybody else."

Mammoth tooth found on course

11,000 year-old 10 pound mammoth tooth found on course

A groundskeeper at a Michigan country club found an 11,000-year-old-tooth from a mammoth while cutting weeds on the golf course, The Detroit News reports.

Scott Beld, a research specialist at the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology, tells the paper the tooth appears to be from a Columbian mammoth, which can grow as tall as 13 feet.

The 10-pound tooth appears to be from a female adolescent, Beld says.

The owners of the Morrison Lake Country Club in Saranac are pleased by the rare find but are keeping the exact location secret to keep people from tromping on the fairways, The News reports.

Wood TV 8 of Grand Rapids reports that paleontologists say they believe there are many more bones at the site. Watch the TV report below or click here for a link.

Girls Win Solheim Cup

August 24, 2009


United States Wins Third Consecutive Solheim Cup


Morgan Pressel delivered the clinching point with her 3-and-2 victory over Anna Nordqvist on Sunday, and the United States won its third consecutive Solheim Cup with a 16-12 decision over Europe in Sugar Grove, Ill.

After Nordqvist missed an 8-footer that would have kept the match going, Pressel’s teammates, who had been watching at the side of the green, leapt up and started celebrating.

“This is so important to us,” Pressel said. “It’s not about pride. It’s not about money. It’s about country. It’s about our teammates.”

Michelle Wie, whose 3-0-1 record this week was the best of any player on the United States team, grabbed an American flag and held it aloft as the crowd cheered.

The Americans were heavy favorites. They had some of the top players in the world; four of Europe’s players were ranked 125th or lower. They had won the last two Solheim Cups and were unbeaten in the United States.

But the European captain Alison Nicholas worked to inspire her team, including playing video messages from Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal. Midway through the day, Europe was leading in 6 of the 12 matches.

“Most of the day, I didn’t think it was going to happen,” the United States captain Beth Daniel said.

Angela Stanford gave the Americans their first boost, beating Becky Brewerton, 5 and 4, to give the United States the first point of the day. Paula Creamer followed with a victory over Suzann Pettersen, and Wie rebounded to beat Helen Alfredsson, 1 up.

FIRST-TIME PGA WINNER Ryan Moore won for the first time on the PGA Tour with a birdie on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Kevin Stadler at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

Moore and Stadler could have avoided the playoff, but they each bogeyed No. 18. Moore, who had five consecutive birdies on the back nine, had two chances to seal the victory after his approach on the third playoff hole rolled to 6 feet. He then sank a putt.

REID CAPTURES TRADITION Mike Reid made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat John Cook and win the Jeld-Wen Tradition in Sunriver, Ore., for his second career major title on the Champions Tour. Reid’s only other tour win was the 2005 Senior P.G.A. Championship.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 Walker Cup at Merion

Merion Golf Club is privileged to host the 42nd Walker Cup Match on September 12th and 13th, 2009. The Walker Cup pits the finest amateur golfers from Great Britain and Ireland against those from the United States. While Merion has hosted many other USGA events, this is the first time that we will host the Walker Cup. We’re quite proud that Buddy Marucci, a Merion member, will captain the United States team, as he did for the 2007 U.S. victory at Royal County Down.

The Walker Cup features spirited, intense competition between the two teams in an atmosphere that captures the utmost in sportsmanship. Merion and the USGA are eager to welcome a knowledgeable gallery, and Merion will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 spectators each day.

We hope that you will enjoy this website and that you will want to attend and support this marvelous amateur golf competition. Ticket information is available by clicking on the "Tickets" heading above. Merion looks forward to welcoming the finest amateur golfers in Great Britain and Ireland and those from the United States for this exciting match.


Rick Ill, President
Merion Golf Club
Rod Day, Chairman
2009 Walker Cup Committee

Eight Players Named To US Team for 2009 Walker Cup Match
Far Hills, N.J. (Aug. 9) – Eight of the 10 amateur players who will comprise the 2009 USA Walker Cup Team have been selected by the International Team Selection Committee of the United States Golf Association. The 2009 Walker Cup Match will be played Sept. 12-13 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

The eight players are:

Bud Cauley, 19, of Jacksonville, Fla.
Rickie Fowler, 20, of Murrieta, Calif.
Brendan Gielow, 21, of Muskegon, Mich.
Brian Harman, 22, of Savannah, Ga.
Morgan Hoffmann, 19, of Saddle Brook, N.J.
Adam Mitchell, 22, of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Nathan Smith, 30, of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Drew Weaver, 22, of High Point, N.C.

To view the US Team Photo Gallery, click on the photo below.

The final two players of the team that will compete against 10 amateurs representing Great Britain and Ireland will be named following the conclusion of the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship, scheduled to be played Aug. 24-30 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

The captain of the USA Team is George “Buddy” MarucciJr.,57, of Villanova, Pa., a playing member of the 1995 and 1997 USA Teams, as well as the captain of the victorious 2007 USA Team at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Ireland. Marucci is the reigning USGA Senior Amateur champion, though he will not be able to defend his 2008 title due to a scheduling conflict with the Walker Cup Match.

The biennial Walker Cup Match consists of 16 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate shot) matches. The USA Team has won the last two Matches, posting one-point victories at Chicago (Ill.) Golf Club in 2005 and Royal County Down in 2007. The USA leads the series overall, 33-7-1.

You can read short bios about the USA team members on the USGA website .
About the USGA

The USGA is the national governing body of golf in the USA and Mexico, a combined territory that includes more than half the world’s golfers and golf courses. The USGA annually conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open, 10 national amateur and two state team championships. It also helps conduct the Walker Cup Match, Curtis Cup Match and World Amateur Team Championships.

The USGA also writes the Rules of Golf, conducts equipment testing, provides expert course maintenance consultations, funds research for better turf and a better environment, maintains a Handicap System®, celebrates the history of the game, and administers an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program, which has allocated more than $65 million over 13 years to successful programs that bring the game’s values to youths from disadvantaged backgrounds and people with disabilities. For more information about the USGA, visit

GB&I Walker Cup Final Squad Announced

August 3, 2009, St. Andrews, Scotland

Ten players have been selected to form a final Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad for the match against the USA at Merion Golf Club, Pennsylvania, on 12 - 13 September.

The ten players in the squad are as follows:

Wallace Booth (Comrie)
Gavin Dear (Murrayshall)
Tommy Fleetwood (Formby Hall)
Luke Goddard (Hendon)
Matt Haines (Rochester & Cobham Park)
Stiggy Hodgson (Sunningdale)
Sam Hutsby (Liphook)
Niall Kearney (Royal Dublin)
Chris Paisley (Stocksfield)
Dale Whitnell (Five Lakes)

Squad reserves:

1. Paul O'Hara (Colville Park)
2. Rhys Enoch (Truro)

The squad will make a trip to Valderrama Golf Club in southern Spain on August 9-12 as part of advance preparations for the match.

This group will ultimately be named as the confirmed team subject to no British or Irish player winning the US Amateur Championship (to be held at Southern Hills, Tulsa, on 24 - 30 August) and claiming automatic selection to the team via that route.

The announcement of the final team of ten to compete at Merion will immediately follow the conclusion of the US Amateur, or the point in time at which no eligible British or Irish player remains in that Championship.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Obama's Game Makes Time,29307,1873056,00.html

See: Photo of Obama and Biden putting on the White House green.

By Michael Scherer

Presidents, like normal people, tend to seek in others what they admire about themselves. Which brings us to the par-5 12th hole at Woodlawn golf course in Fort Belvoir, Va., on Father's Day. Vice President Joe Biden, an 8 handicap, has leaked a 3-wood into the trees near the green. He stands amid the underbrush, talking with his match-play teammate, the President of the United States. (See pictures of presidents at the beach.)

Take a drop or risk the trees? A few inches off either way, and the ball will ricochet into the forest. The stakes aren't high: Barack Obama, who has golfed almost every weekend since it got hot in Washington, plays a dollar a hole. But these leaders have more than money on the line. They are facing down their aides, men a fraction of their age. And no one wants to lose. (See pictures of the worst golf fashion.)

After a time, Obama steps away, and Biden reaches for his wedge. The ball miraculously splits the trunks and bounds onto the green, less than 20 feet from the pin. Amid the caravan of golf carts, including those of the Secret Service detail, a doctor and the ever present nuclear-code-toting military aide, there is an eruption of applause. "Calm under pressure," Obama calls out, bequeathing to Biden his own most valued attribute. "That's why he's my Vice President."

Since Dwight Eisenhower evicted the South Lawn squirrels tearing up his putting green, every President but Jimmy Carter has been a golfer. John Kennedy was known for low scores and a graceful swing. Ronald Reagan, whose scores were a state secret, putted down the aisle of Air Force One. Bill Clinton established a reputation for fudging his score — cheating, some said — in rounds with campaign donors while chewing an unlit cigar on the tee. George W. Bush played the way his father H.W. did, like a race against time, until the last years in office, when the son banned himself from the game because he didn't want to send the "wrong signal" to the mothers of the Iraq-war dead. (Read "Ronald Reagan's Golf Balls? Step Right Up!")

Obama, who took up golf in his mid-30s as a relaxing alternative to basketball, did not find much time to play during the campaign. But now that his game is out of the closet, it is clear that he duffs in much the same way that he tries to govern. "You can really tell a person's personality by the way he plays golf," says Wellington Wilson, a longtime golf buddy. "He just goes with the flow. Not too high. Not too low." (Read "How Good is Barack Obama at Golf?")

Whereas Clinton was known to shout, curse and rehit balls until he liked his shot, Obama never cuts a corner in golf, say his companions. No mulligans. No five-foot gimme putts on the green. "I've never seen him get to the point where he just picks up," says Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director and a regular partner. "I've seen him write a 10 down. I've seen him write an 11 down." (See the top 10 U.S. Open golf duels.)

But that doesn't mean the President always behaves like a gentleman. As in basketball, Obama is a trash-talk enthusiast who tries to get into the heads of his opponents and sucker them into taking more difficult shots. "He is very strategic about his use of it," says Eugene Kang, the 25-year-old White House special-projects coordinator, who played with the President at Andrews Air Force Base in late June. "It's always fun to make the putt and give him a nice little look at the end." (See pictures of Barack Obama's college years.)

The jawing can get especially fierce when the opponent is press secretary Robert Gibbs, with whom Obama shares some golfing characteristics. "His game is severely handicapped, as is mine," Gibbs says. (Estimates of the POTUS handicap, for which there is no official documentation, vary from 16 to 24.)

Most of the President's longtime golfing buddies say the First Game is improving. After a brief flirtation with a new Nike driver, Obama has returned to his Titleist and is still struggling to master his new hybrid woods. He putts solidly and is working on his bunker shots, once an Achilles' heel.

The President keeps the game in perspective. Most days Obama does not win or lose more than a few dollars. The Father's Day outing ended with Biden and Obama each collecting $2, though Biden paid for the hot dogs after the front nine. Wilson, who has been playing with Obama since 1999, keeps all his Obama winnings in an envelope, which he has promised as a college fund for Sasha and Malia. As of early July, the envelope contained $2.25.,8599,1914663,00.html

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bubba Mac Blues at AC Country Club

Bubba Mac Blues at AC Country Club


South Jersey, New Jersey
(That's Us)

This appears to be a weekly event - every Thursday maybe.

What an invite:

Bubba Mac Blues Band
July 16, 2009 (Thu)
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Atlantic City Country Club
1 Leo Fraser Dr
Northfield, NJ 08225
ph. 609-236-4465


Bring the Family for Blues, BBQ, and Atmosphere!

Flip Flops, Shorts, and a Silk Shirt.…

Weekly Raffle Prizes for Golf and Brunch!

Join us outside on the patio overlooking beautiful views of the AC Skyline.

Free Line & Jitterbug Dance Lessons!

Enjoy our NEW BBQ patio food menu.

Compete in family fun games and Dance to the Bubba Mac Blues Band.

Recreate the memories from the Bubba Mac Shack!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interview with Tom Doak

Interview with Tom Doak

April 1, 2000

Bill Kelly: What sparked your interest in the game of golf, and when did you know that you wanted to be a golf course architect?

Tom Doak: I started playing golf when I was ten – my dad started taking us to his business conventions, which were often at golf resorts. Harbour Town, Pinehurst, and Pebble Beach were some of the first courses I saw, and they were so different than the little public courses near my home, that I became interested in why.

BK: You worked at St. Andrews. What did you learn there?

TD: I had a scholarship the year I graduated from Cornell to spend a year studying the golf courses in the British Isles, and spent the first two months of it in St. Andrews, caddying on the Old Course. I learned a ton there. The Old Course is the most interesting I’ve seen, probably because no one designed it.

You can’t just aim for the middle of the fairway – there’s a lot of short grass, but there are bunkers strewn all through it, so you have to learn the course and decide where it is best for you to aim. On some holes, your ideal spot will be totally different than your partner’s, who hits it 30 yards further.

BK: What is the basic difference between British Isle links courses and the basic American course?

TD: The main difference between British and American courses is attitude. British links are natural in origin, so their scruffiness is accepted as part of the game; if you get a bad bounce, you have to take it in stride. Most golf is played between friends or fellow club-members, in match play. Americans take their medal scores much more seriously – and, as a result, our golfers want their courses to be designed “fair” and maintained perfectly so they never get a bad break.

BK: When you came back you worked for Pete Dye; what did you learn then?

TD: I was lucky enough to hang around Pete Dye [note: not “Peter”; his actual name is Paul, but everyone calls him Pete] for three years after I got back from overseas, working on the construction of courses from Hilton Head to Palm Springs. Pete doesn’t just draw his courses and let someone else build them – he gets out there with the crew and redesigns them in the field. He spends a lot more time thinking about each contour and each bunker than most other architects do; and he can try our new ideas in the dirt, knowing that he can always soften them if he’s worried that they are too difficult. Most architects are afraid to take those sorts of chances, because they don’t know how their drawings will come out. That’s why Pete’s designs are more original, and more interesting.

BK: You seem to have some radical opinions on different aspects of the game. Could you comment briefly on what you think about a few of them?

TD: A lot of architects think I’m a radical, and yet Ben Crenshaw calls me a preservationist. Is it possible to be both?

I think it is, because golf architecture has changed so much over the past fifty years. It’s so competitive in the current boom, and it’s easy to move earth today, and the average client has so much ego tied up in his project, that it’s just very easy to get carried away with your design and bui9ld a course that’s too difficult and too expensive for the average golfer.

The old courses are much simpler – and they used what the land offered. That doesn’t mean they were easy; the great architects build challenge into their designs, because a course has to be challenging to be interesting.

But they did it by building three feet of slope into a green, not by building a three-acre lake in front of it.

BK: What makes a great course great?

TD: Great courses have a great variety of holes, a beautiful setting, and a style of their own.

BK: What about the restoration efforts on historic courses?

TD: I believe that the best courses of the master designers should be preserved; but I found out when traveling around this country that few are left intact. We have participated in the restoration of a few prominent courses, like Garden City and Pasatiempo. But restoration is a tricky thing – it’s still up to the present-day architect to determine what needs to be done, and different designers can produce very different results. I’m afraid the main reason for its current popularity is that it’s easier to sell the membershi8p on “restoration” than it would be to “change” their beloved old course.

BK: What is the role of the greens committee?

TD: The role of the greens committee should be to respond to the membership’s concerns about the course and to educate the membership on the design and maintenance of the course. Too many greens committee have it backwards – they’re so concerned with leaving the course better than they found it, that they try to tell the superintendent (and sometimes the architect) how to do their jobs.

BK: What is the biggest threat to the game of golf today?

TD: I think the biggest threat to the game is the rising cost of play. Of all the new courses being built, probably 90% are intended to be “high-end” courses with green fees between $50 and $100. That’s pretty steep for a beginning golfer, and it’s out of the question for juniors. When I started playing, it cost $1 per round for me to play our hometown municipal course, and $40 to play Pebble Beach. Most golf courses are too busy trying to make every last dollar to worry about who’s going to pay them ten years from now.

BK: Can groundskeepers succeed without using excessive chemicals?

TD: The best golf course superintendents keep their grass healthy. If they know how to do that, they won’t need much in the way of chemical input. The best managers will become ever more valuable as environmental regulations limit their alternatives.

BK: You call your company “Renaissance Golf.” Is there a real golf renaissance going on and what’s it all about, more money, or a return to the roots of the game?

TD: When I named the company ten years ago, I didn’t expect the boom that was coming. The name was more of a play on the “Renaissance man” ideal that we were involved in every aspect of the business, from designing new courses to restoring old ones, from project management to running the bulldozers, and even to golf writing and photography. There has unquestionably been a great boom of interest in golf course architecture in the past few years, and not just because there are so many Tour pros moonlighting as designers. There are a lot of talented people out there building courses in all sorts of different styles.

If I’ve accomplished anything, it’s been to remind people that great courses are first and foremost a product of a great site. The most influential courses of this decade – Sand Hills and Bandon Dunes – weren’t built because of a market study; they were built because the land was ideally suited to golf, just like the original links of Scotland were.

BK: How did you hook up with the Atlantic City Country Club?

TD: We were one of several firms interviewed by Hilton after they acquired the course. I think we were on their list because of our reputation for restoration work in the New York area; but I think we got the job because we listened to what they wanted, and we understood that this was more than a simple restoration.

They wanted to make the course more secluded from the homes around it, but open up with the views to the marsh and to Atlantic City. They wanted to eliminate the road crossings in the old layout as much as possible, for privacy and safety concerns. And they wanted to preserve the history of a 100 year-old golf course, but do it while rebuilding the course from the ground up. Every sprinkler head, every bunker, pretty much every blade of grass out there today is new, in total. Atlantic City cost more to rebuild than any of the ten brand-new courses I’ve designed.

The challenge was in treading the line between restoration and new design. This project had elements of both, and the client wanted us to keep a perfect balance.

TD: The new course isn’t supposed to be a “Tom Doak design.” It borrows a lot of its style from past incarnations – from pictures taken in the 1920’s, when there was a lot of open sand between the holes down by the shore. Several great architects had worked there before us, from Willie Park to William Flynn, and we tried to preserve something from each of them – from Park’s small elevated greens to Flynn’s “white faced” bunkering.

BK: What attributes of the course were kept the same, preserved and/or restored?

TD: The general flow of the routing is the same, although many of the greens have been repositioned slightly. Four of the greens were rebuilt with the same contours as before – the third, eighth, and eleventh [which used to be #12]. And, as I described above, the seaside and “classic” character of the course has been preserved and expanded upon.

BK: What major changes were made and why?

TD: There are a host of changes: An irrigation pond had to be added on high ground, to prevent saltwater intrusion; it’s right up by the pro shop, at the foot of the first tee.

The second green was relocated north of the road, shortening that hole considerably, and the fifth hole was lengthened by moving the green back to where the old second green sat.

A large expanse of sand was restored between the third and fifth fairways.

The fourth green was relocated to bring the marsh into play on the right.

The sixth green was moved back about 40 yards, creating a very long three-shot par 5.

The seventh green was moved forward to make a very long par 4 into the wind.

The old eleventh hole was eliminated, and the holes on either side of it were lengthened. The tenth now plays as a dogleg par 5, with the green on the far side of the pond which used to be behind it; and the new eleventh is a very long par-4, with dramatic cross-bunkers about 100 yards short of the green.

The par-3 12th [formerly the 13th] green was elevated and the left side cut away, creating the deepest bunker on the course.

The par-5 13th was lengthened by moving the green back to the left.

The 14th and 15th are now new holes, built around a new section of tidal marsh which we created. This was our most significant change; previously, the 15th and 16th were both medium-short par-4s playing downwind, and neither made very dramatic use of the marsh. The new 14th starts from a tee out on a dramatic point in the marsh, heading to a narrow fairway which dog legs to the right – long hitters can try to cut the corner and drive the green, but it’s a big carry. Then, the par-3 15th plays back into the wind to a green on another point, with marsh around three sides.

The 16th and 17th holes are similar in length to what was there originally, but the greens on both holes are now guarded by large sand-dune features, to further the seaside character of the course.

The 18th has been reduced to a 400 yard par-4 by shifting the fairway to the right and shortening the tee. Before, most golfers were playing a half-blind lay-up second shot; now they’ll need a good drive to get to the corner, and then they’ll face a more challenging approach to the green with its great setting in front of the old clubhouse.

BK: What kinds of grass were used, and why?

TD: Tees, greens and fairways are all bentgrass; the mowed rough is bluegrass, but there are also several large areas of un-mowed fescue rough in the open spaces. A new bentgrass called A-4 has been used for the greens – it’s much finer and more dense than any variety I’ve seen before, and it was selected in hopes of keeping poa anue in check. They’ll have to keep the greens fast, or this grass will get too thick.

BK: What’s the new length, overall, and what’s the par for the course?

TD: You’ll have to check with the pro shop for the exact length; I think it’s slightly shorter than before, actually. But par has been reduced from 72 to 70 so it will play harder for low handicappers.

BK: What’s the new signature hole?

TD: The third hole was Leo Frazer’s favorite, and it might still be, since we preserved it intact. The short par-4 14th is the biggest change – the tee on the point is so dramatic, nobody would believe that it had always been there, overgrown with trees. It’s a gambler’s hole – you could make an eagle if you drive the green, but you could also lose a sleeve of balls trying to make the carry. But I think our biggest success is that we’ve made several holes more dramatic, so that different people will have different favorites. The seventh and eleventh are killer par-4’s: in the southeasterly summer winds, they’ll be two of the hardest holes in New Jersey. At the other end of the spectrum, the fourth, twelfth and seventeenth are all within the average golfer’s reach, but when you miss one of those greens, it’s going to get interesting.

BK: What are the short holes and the ones most likely for someone to ace?

TD: The fourth and twelfth are both under 150 yards – I think the fourth is a bit shoorter. But both are downwind, so you may need some help from the flagstick if you’re going to make a one. You might have more luck at the 17th – the cup will usually be hidden by the dune on the right, so your caddie might kick one in for you.

BK: Was the course designed for tournament play?

TD: We really didn’t think much about tournament play in the changes we made to the design. Obviously, it has been a popular sight for the U.S. Women’s Open, and the new course would be more challenging than ever for them – but I don’t know if that’s in the cards. The one drawback is the lack of acreage – for galleries, corporate tents, parking, and the circus that accompanies major tournaments nowadays.

BK: What are the prospects of encouraging players to walk the course and maintain the caddy tradition?

TD: Because play will be limited, we didn’t build any cart paths for the new course. Players will be able to take a caddie, or drive on the fairways if they choose a cart. The caddy experience is exactly the blend of personal service and golfing tradition which the new course is supposed to represent.

BK: In your book “Anatomy of a Golf Course” you mention “grow in” time as a factor. How long will the “grow in” time be at ACCC, and when do you anticipate the course being open for play?

TD: The eighteenth fairway was the last to be planted, just after Labor Day of 1999; but the last three or four holes were set back a bit by washouts at the start of the hurricane season. They’ll sill need a bit of growth this spring to mature. I’d be happy to play the course as it stands today, but the standard today is so much higher – everybody wants it to be perfect before they open the door. I suspect that will be sometime in May (2000).

BK: What were some of the special problems presented by the ACCC job and how did you overcome them?

TD: From a design standpoint, the challenge was keeping that balance between restoration and new design. Fortunately, my “signature” as a designer isn’t a particular style of bunkering or greens, but in making the most of the land with whatever style suites it best; so I inherited a lot from the old course, instead of butting heads with it.

From a logistical standpoint, it was just difficult to do that much construction on a tight acreage. The only place to stockpile topsoil or park equipment was on another fairway; it got to be like a big shell game. And the irrigation system is the most complicated I’ve ever seen, so after it was trenched in, we pretty much had to shape all the bunkers and greens over again to restore what we intended.

BK: What is the future of the clubhouse?

TD: As I understand it, the design of the clubhouse will be thoughtfully preserved; like the golf course, it will be refitted completely, but from the outside, it’s supposed to look the same as it does today.

BK: You are pretty young, and golf is pretty old. What do you see is the near future of the game, what role to you want to play, and what’s the future of the ACCC?

TD: As a student of architecture, I’ve seen first-hand how much the game has changed over the past 100 years, by seeing how courses have evolved. Every new generation of golf courses has been longer and harder than the last, to preserve the challenge of the game in response to improvements in equipment, in course conditioning, and in the general level of play.

The problem is, all of our best old courses are on limited acreage, and they were lengthened as much as they could be a generation ago. So we have to de-emphasize length as the benchmark of design, and re-emphasize all the other attributes of classic design – bunkers which force the golfer to choose his line of play carefully, greens with enough character to make the short game as challenging as the long game, and maximizing the natural beauty and vistas of each property.

We also have to recognize that the best players in the world will continue to improve, and if we don’t want the great courses of the past to become obsolete for championship play, sooner or later we will have to change the specifications of the golf ball to counteract all the other advances in golfing equipment.

Thirty or forty years down the road, Atlantic City Country Club will need work again, to upgrade its irrigation system if nothing else. But if my design work and my writings have made an impact, I hope that this course and many others like it will still be appreciated for what they are, a test of golf that is far more than a long-driving contest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gerald Catena - Golfing Gangster

KELLY'S CLASSICS - Gerald Catena - Golfing Gangster

Back in the days of Enoch "Knucky" Johnson, when gangsters were among the pillars of the community, Abner "Longie" Zwillman was responsible, according to the Kefauver Committee, for about 40% of all illegal liquor in the United States between 1926 and 1933, unloading most of his supplies along the Jersey coast.

One of Zwillman's young lieutenants, Gerald "Jerry" Catena, was also friends with Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Like Zwillman, Catena was from Newark, involved in the trucking business and the longshoreman's union and served as an underboss in the Vito Genovese mafia family.

Catena also liked to play golf, one of his most popular pastimes, a passion for which eventually led him to prison.

Said to have attended the April 1929 convention of organized crime leaders in Atlantic City, Catena was there when the "Lucky" Luciano-Meyer Lansky Syndicate was officially inagurated to divert mob money earned during prohibition into gambling operations after its eventual repeal.

Al Capone, who also attended that meeting, suddenly disappeared for a few days, only to surface at the train station while arranging for his arrest in Philadelphia, said to be a strategy to take some of the pressure off the other, lesser known gangsters, like Catena. Capone's missing days in Atlantic City were said to have been spent at the clubhouse of the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.

Catena may have also attended the conclave of American mobsters in Havana in 1946, the year he formed Runyon Sales to distribute Lion pin ball machines in New Jersey.

Catena was listed as being among those identified as being at the 1957 Apalachin, New York meeting of mob bosses, which was broken up by local police and removed any doubt about the existence of the Mafia. When Genovise soldier Joe Valachi became the first "made" member of the Mafia to break the oath of omerta and testify before Congress, he mentioned Catena as being one of the Genovese family capos.

Catena was what the mob calls an "earner," as his pin ball machines could be found in every pool hall, bowling alley and mom and pop grocery store in every town in New Jersey. When the office of Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo was wiretapped, DeCarlo was overheard saying that "Catena has more money than anybody, except Meyer Lansky," the mob's senior accountant.

At some point a number of Bally slot machine appeared in the locker room at the Atlantic City Country Club, providing a small but appreciated income for the club.

When club owners Sonny Fraser and Philadelphia-Ocean City builder Jack Kelly opened the Atlantic City Race Track in 1946, the first legal gambling in New Jersey, Florida Senator George Smathers complained that the track was competition to Florida gambling and mentioned the fact that they had illegal slot machines in the Atlantic City Country Club. Instead of getting rid of the slot however, Sonny Fraser sold the club to his brother Leo, who kept the slots until a New Jersey State trooper conference at the club led to them being removed.

When the owner of Lion pinball, Ray Moloney died in 1958, Catena's Runyon Sales took over the company, which also distributed Bally machines in the state, thus giving them a monopoly on pin ball machines in New Jersey. Catena cemented his relationship with the Chicago warehouse based Bally when his daughter married Michael "Mickey" Wichinsky, Bally's Nevada distributor.

When Vito Genovese was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1960, there was considerable speculation as to who would replace the mob boss, but instead of a mob war breaking out, Catena was given the responsibility for the family's New Jersey operations, while Thomas Eboli ran the New York side of their family's business.

When it became known that Catena was a major stockholder in Bally, the company bought out his shares in order to satisfy the Nevada gambling authorities, but he continued to run the company that distributed Bally machines in New Jersey.

Some of these pin ball machines were rigged to pay out so many "free-games" that the store owners would reimberse the winner with cash, thus being a slot-machine before legal gambling came to New Jersey.

In 1970, at the age of 68, Catena was sent to jail for being a stand-up guy in refusing to answer questions before a grand jury looking into mob activity in th state. He was sent to Yardville state prison with two other mobsters who refused to talk - Philly mob boss Angelo Bruno, a member of the national Commission, and Nicky Scarfo, who would later replace Bruno in a the midst of a bloody mob war.

During Governor Brendan Byrne's 1977 re-election campaign, he promised to keep oganized crime "out of our State!" Then, setting the ground work for casinos in Atlantic City, Byrne appointed JOe Lordi the first chairman of the Casino Control Commission. Lordi's law firm had previously represented the Catena family - in civil court, not on criminal matters, and one of Lordi's brothers worked as a bartender in one of Catena's restaurants. And while he was Essex County Prosecutor, Lordi approved a gun permit for one of Catena's "soldiers."

Lordi's response was simply, "If you lived in the Ironbound section of Newark, it was a hopping area. The mere fact that you rub shoulders with somebody or eat in his restaurant doesn't make you an associate."

When the New Jersey casino law was written, in order to encourage competition, a casino company could not own more than three casinos or buy more than half of its slot machines from any one company.

But since there were no other slot machine manufacturers other than Bally, the law was changed to allow for Resorts, the first casino, to buy all of its machines from Bally.

Then Bally decided to get into the casino business itself, and purchased and leveled the historic Marlboro-Blenheim Hotel and built Bally Park Place. But first they had to get rid of William O'Donnell, the Bally director who was once partners with Catena and Sam Klein in Runyon Sales/Lion pinballs.

Lordi skirted around all of his issues and maintained his position in the government, despite the transparency of his mob connections, but Jerry Catena and Sam Klein couldn't get around it, mainly because of their golf game.

One of the things these guys like to do was play golf, and despite the New Jersey restrictions placed against associating with certain known criminals, Casino Control Board investigators photographed Klein playing golf with Catena at Clarence Geist's exclusive Boca Raton resort in Florida.

Then Commission chairman Peter Echeverria called their golf games "horrible," in that they had "openly and notoriously" associated in "complete disregard" of the state's restrictions.

They just couldn't help it.

For Catena and Klein, it was one of the most expensive game of golf they ever played, as Klein's casino license was revoked, he was forced to resign, sell his Bally stock and fined $50,000.

Catena's parole was considered violated and he was returned to prison, where he died a few years later.

Eventually, in 1998, Bally-Hilton, led by Wally Barr, purchased the Atlantic City Country Club and expanded their casino ownership to five casinos in Atlantic City.

Bogie the Clubhouse Cat

Bogie Obit

Requiem for a Feline
Bogie the Clubhouse Cat

November 1982 - January 2001

We are sad to report that Bogie, the cat who called the Atlantic City Country Club his home for nearly twenty years, has passed away.

Since he first arrived at the Northfield Links in November, 1982, a kitten that could curl into the cup of your hand, Bogie was an ever-present, if unobtrusive fixture around the venerable old clubhouse.

Named by Drew Siok, the son of golf pro Don Siok, Bogie could usually be found laying around by the bag-room door, unless there was a tournament.

When there was a tournament Bogie would usually perch himself on the corner of the registration table, ensuring that he would get a playful pet from the passing players. Other times he would sit in an empty golf cart, looking for some attention, and waiting for the action to begin. Among those celebrities who took a particular liking to Bogie while visiting the club were Perry Como, Sam Snead, Julius boros, Fred Couples, Joe Namath, Dr. J., Tom Smothers and Frankie Avalon.

With his bright orange fur, white underbelly and blue eyes that begged to be petted, Bogie often mingled with the golfers on the practice green and accompany them to the first tee before retreating for a nap back in the bag-room.

When Bally-Hilton first purchased the club, longtime employee Kenny Robinson obtained assurances from company executives that Bogie would always have a home. With his passing, Kenny burried Bogie on the course, where a small shrine will recognize his friendly contribution to the kindred spirits of the club.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Charles "Chick" Evans

Primary patron of Willie Anderson's family, Charles "Chick" Evans

Charles "Chick" Evans
And Atlantic City Country Club

Chapter 19 of Birth of the Birdie

Leo Fraser, in the course of his life in golf, knew many great players, but of them all, he concluded, "I caddied for him and I can't imagine anyone being a better golfer than Chick Evans, and I've seen them all."

Harry Vardon also named Evans as the best amateur he played in America.

In 1916 Evans won the U.S. Open, using only seven hickory-shafted clubs, then won the U.S. Amateur Championship, a more significant tournament at the time and one which included a fourteen year old Bobby Jones.

After winning both he came to Atlantic City to play an exhibition with Clarence Hackney.

In an article in the 1946 Sonny Fraser program Evans wrote:

"Visiting the Atlantic City Country Club was a dream of my boyhood and like many another dream it came true. I have seen this course of history several times, once when I was named national champion."

"When in Atlantic City I played golf with and stayed at the home of Mr. Henry McSweeney. I seemed to learn most about Atlantic City Country Club from this fatherly man in whose house I often found lodging when in Atlantic City. Sometimes we walked around the old club house in the long twilight after dinner and sometimes we went down a few miles or so to the sea and there we talked while the water rolled softly to the sandy shore."

"I learned from him that golf is played at Atlantic City Country Club from January to December on regular greens without Winter covering in the most equable temperature in the United States, and with plenty of sunshine, but I must confess I saw little sunshine when I was there."

"Atlantic City Country Club is one of the oldest clubs in the United States, having been established in 1897. When you play on the course where golf was played for so many years, you feel that every yard is enshrined with the memories of golfers. There can be seen the sweeping galleries of the National Amateur Championship which was held there, and the outstanding figures of the game. All of the golf seems before you and your thoughts dwell upon Chandler Egan, who was one of the most peculiarly beloved golfers in America, and travel on to other golfers and other tournaments."

"My love for Atlantic City Country Club is as simple as a matter of colors. I have always loved gray; women like my mother whom I have loved have worn it beautifully, and Atlantic City, as I've seen it, is always one shade of gray or another and sometimes several. It is the light mist from the sea that gives its color and name to this old gray spot in New Jersey and the vigorous life to its inhabitants."

"My first round of golf at this famous club was a disapointment for I had expected too much; but from then on my enjoyment and interest grew enormously. When one is completely enveloped in the golfing atmosphere, has wandered over the course and has talked with many golfers, then the actual Atlantic City Country Club feeling is his."

"I think that every entry in the Sonny Fraser Tournament will see the trophy cup as an expression to his national memory and will envision Sonny as a loving, great man and great golfer, sitting in his quiet way beside this great course."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First 16 Foreign US Open Champions

1 -1895 – Horace Rawlins - England - Newport CC , RI
2 -1896 – James Foulis - Scotland - Shinnecock Hills
3 -1897 – Joe Loyd England - Chicago Golf Club
4 -1898 – Fred Herd - Scotland - Myopia Hunt Club
5 -1899 – Willie Smith - Scotland - Baltimore CC
6 -1900 – Harry Vardon - Jersey – Chicago CC
7 -1901 – Willie Anderson - Scotland – Myopia Hunt Club
8 -1902 – Laurie Auchterlonie - Scotland – Garden City Golf Club
9 -1903 – Willie Anderson – Scotland – Baltusrol Golf Club
10-1904 – Willie Anderson – Scotland – Glen View Club, Ill.
11-1905 – Willie Anderson – Scotland – Myopia Hunt Club
12-1906 – Alex Smith – Scotland – Onwentsia Club
13-1907 – Alec Ross – Scotland Philadelphia Cricket Club
14-1908 – Fred McLeod – Scotland – Myopia Hunt Club
15-1909 – George Sargent – England – Englewood Golf Club
16-1910 – Alex Smith – Scotland – Philadelphia Cricket Club

1911 – John McDermott – USA – Chicago Golf Club
1912 – John McDermott – USA - Country Club of Buffalo

Francis Ouimet - USA
Walter Hagen - USA
Jerome Travers - USA
Chick Evans - USA
Walter Hagen

Ted Ray in 1920 – Jersey -

Monday, June 15, 2009

Willie Anderson's Local Links

Willie Anderson - 4 Time US Open Winner - Local Links

In the sixteen years between the first U.S. Open golf championship and Johnny McDermott becoming the first native born American to win the national open, the English and Scottish professionals prevailed, Willie Anderson said to be the best of the lot.

The 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage, if won by Tiger Woods, the odds-on-favorite, would put him into yet another elite category - winning four U.S. Open titles, back-to-back titles, and the first since Willie Anderson to win the national championship four times in a decade.

Willie Anderson, ah yes, the lad did well, and got a bad rap, almost as bad as Johnny McDermott himself.

As McDermott is known as the forgotten American hero, Willie Anderson is the forgotten son of a small Scottish community that produced dozens of legendary golfers, none more forgotten than Anderson.

"In his short life Willie Anderson compiled a record second to none," writes Francis R. S. Broumphrey, "but circumstances conspired to make this first great American golfer almost forgotton."

There's a lot of bull about Willie Anderson floating around, but Douglas Seaton seems to have the story down pat, so I'm going to quote a lot from him, adding some of my own tid bits, and focusing on his local New Jersey and Philadelphia area golf professional jobs and Open victories.

Willie Anderson’s biographer Douglas Seaton writes of Famous North Berwick, Scotland golfers, Willie Anderson among them. Many thanks to Douglas Seaton for all he the research and writing he's done, which can be found in his book and at: []

According to Seaton, Willie Anderson "was born 21st October 1879 at 18 Westgate opposite the Abbey Church.… educated at the Public School in North Berwick...was a licensed caddie on the West Links from the age of eleven, and on leaving school he apprenticed as a club maker under Alex Aitken in Gullane."

"Willie Anderson, aged 16 years sailed for America on the S.S. Pomeranian from Glasgow,” writes Seaton, “arriving at Ellis Island in March 1896...A report in the New York Times stated that Willie Anderson had arrived on Sunday 21st March 1896 to take up his position at Misquamicut Golf Club, Watch Hill on Rhode Island and that the famous amateur Horace Hutchinson considered Anderson to be one of the best."

"In 1896 Anderson extended the course at Misquamicut to eighteen holes. Willie Park Jr. laid out the first nine the previous year, and then Anderson moved to Lakewood Golf Club NY...In his first U.S. Open, in September 1897, Anderson finished second, one stroke behind Joe Lloyd."

A golf pro at ten clubs over fourteen years, Willie Anderson spent time working as a golf pro at Baltusol and at Montclair, New Jersey, then three years at Apawamis C.C (1903-06); Onwentsia (1906-09), St Louis C.C. (1909-10).

Seaton: "Willie's father and brother emigrated in 1900 and when Willie left Montclair C.C in 1902 his father took over as resident professional. During this period Jerry Travers was a member at Montclair when he won the US Amateur in 1907 and 1910 and US Open in 1915. Tom Anderson Sr. remained at Montclair until his death in 1913. Willie's younger brother Tom Anderson Jr. also worked at Montclair in the 1909-10 season and as head pro in 1913-15. Willie's mother Jessie remained in Scotland with her four daughters living at 15, South Clerk Street, Edinburgh."

"During the winter months Anderson was pro at St. Augustine in Florida. In December 1899, Anderson traveled west playing in exhibition matches with U.S. Open champion Horace Rawlins. To earn some money Anderson and Rawlins worked as green keepers at Oakland Golf Club, San Francisco. They entered the Southern California Open at Coronado Beach which Anderson won by one stroke from Alex Smith. In the 1900 US census Willie Anderson was listed as a boarder living with a European couple in the town of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin."

"At the 1901 US. Open played at Myopia Hunt Club near Boston, Massachusetts, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith posted a 72-hole score of 331, to tie the tournament. In the first 18-hole play-off in Open history which had to wait until the Monday because Sunday was members day at Myopia, Anderson won by one stroke."

It was "At that championship, the American media picked up on Anderson's quote when he growled 'No, we're no goin’ tae eat in the kitchen,'" and setting the tone for other golf professionals, notably Walter Hagen, who refused to live by the outdated social standards that refused golf professionals access to the dining room.

Seaton: "Willie was furious when told the professionals could not enter the clubhouse. The players were eventually allowed to eat in a specially erected tent."

“At Christmas 1901, Anderson traveled to California where he was engaged in giving golf lessons at the Hotel Green in Pasadena."

For those who really want a detailed descrition, Seaton gives it to us: "Anderson was described as sturdy, with muscular shoulders, brawny forearms and exceptionally large hands. His accuracy was legendary particularly with his favorite club the mashie, equivalent to the present day five iron. He drove the ball more off his left than his right foot, hitting it 233 yards. The strongest part of his game was his brassie, particularly from a bad lie and he changed to the overlapping grip in 1900. His grip was even more of an interlock than that of the Laidlay-Vardon-Taylor school for the index finger of his left hand extended 'way through between the third and little fingers of the right, instead of allowing only the knuckle to show in that aperture. His was not the upright swing of a Vardon, but the flatter, fuller sweep of the typical Scot. Anderson regularly played with eight clubs: driver, brassie, cleek, midiron, one he called a pitching iron, heavy-centered mashie, large mashie-niblick, and putting cleek. He named the driver as his favorite; then mashie, midiron, and brassie."

Willie Anderson also engaged in the practice of hitting the ball blindfolded, sometimes as many as 200 balls at a time, a practice picked up by his friend and mentor, Chick Evans, a great local amateur.

"Described as a dour man "who attended strictly to business and displayed little sense of humour on the course, writes Seaton, Anderson "...was a mixer off the course and popular with his fellow professionals...Willie's unhurried move through the ball disguised effortless power and he was also a rhythmical putter but his main attribute was his unflappable demeanour. Golfers during Anderson's time essentially wore clothes formal enough to attend church in but not Willie Anderson. His typical attire was a tartan wool cap pulled low (to camouflage his large ears), baggy plaid trousers, a plain shirt, a cloth neckerchief (instead of a silk tie), and an old tweed jacket."

There is a classic golf photo of some early professional golf champions sitting under a tree, surrounded by caddies and young kids. Willie Anderson is the fellow in the middle, his odd unstuffy dress setting a new sporting style for players.

In 1902 Anderson was resident pro at Hotel Raymond in Pasadena, California, and on 17th September 1902, captured his first Western Open, then a major, shooting a record 299 for 72 holes with one round a 69. Anderson became the first player to hold the titles to the US two major tournaments, and no golfer had previously broken 300 for 72-holes in America."

"In October, the U.S. Open was played at the Garden City Golf Club," notes Seaton, "where Willie finished fifth, the new Haskell rubber-cored ball was now in use."

"The 1903 US Open was played at Baltusrol in New Jersey where Anderson was the first pro in 1898. … In the 1903 play-off for the US Open, which was marred by pouring rain, Anderson beat Brown by two strokes, 82-84. Willie Anderson became the first two-time winner of the Western Open on 1st July 1904 with a four-stroke victory over Alex Smith….One week later at the U.S. Open played over Chicago's Glen View Course, Willie didn't need a play-off this time as he prevailed by five strokes. Setting a U.S. Open record of 303 and his closing round 72 was also an 18-hole tournament record."

"Anderson designed clubs for Worthington Manufacturing and endorsed the 'near indestructible' Champion ball, Their woods bearing his signature were the first example of an autograph branded club made in America. In June 1905, Willie Anderson and Alex Smith returned to Scotland especially to take part in the Open Championship at St. Andrews. Smith finished sixteenth but Anderson's performance was disappointing, taking 86 and 88 for the first two rounds and failed to qualify."

When one golfer was asked how Willie Anderson played out of bunkers, "he was never in them," the response came, a fact we now know to be wrong, as Seaton notes.

"Willie struggled with the new bunkers at St Andrews, he was in eight of them in the first round. The bunkers were laid out by one of his father's apprentice green keepers from North Berwick, Hugh Hamilton. He took over from Tom Morris as head green keeper and was responsible for creating many of the bunkers at St Andrews and lengthened the course in reaction to the Haskell ball. The newspapers reported that Willie Anderson was dressed in a grey jersey and blue trousers and the headlines suggested he must be the first golfer dressed like that to drive off the first tee at St Andrews."

"Anderson and Smith returned to the States in September for the U.S.Open at the Myopia Hunt Club near Boston. At first, it looked as if Anderson was out of the running for a third straight title. Scores of 81 and 80 left him five strokes behind Alex Smith and Stewart Gardner. But…by the 70th hole, he had a four-stroke lead and held it together to prevail by two over Smith. Anderson received $200, a gold medal and custody of the cup was given to his club....The Eastern Professional Golfers Association was established in 1905 following a meeting held in Astor House, New York when over seventy pro's attended including George Thomson, and Willie Anderson was elected to the Executive Committee."

"In March 1906, Willie escorted his wife back to the USA where he had signed a contract at Onwentsia C.C. IL which was reported to be for more money than any other golf pro in the USA."

While some have complained that there is very little information available on Willie Anderson, Seaton has certainly found a lot, and it appears that we can still learn more.

"In 2006, Mike Marshall the historian at Apawamis C.C discovered that Willie Anderson's wife Agnes was born in 1883, the daughter of an Irish immigrant John Beakey and his wife Mary. Agnes was a native of Rye, Westchester, New York and they met while Willie was pro at Apawamis C.C."

"On 18th June 1908, at Normandie Park Golf Club in St. Louis , Anderson became the first three-time winner of the Western Open… and on 15th September 1909, Willie won the Western Open at Skokie Golf Club in Illinois, for the fourth time...Tom Mercer, a fellow pro and close friend of Anderson said that although Willie was not a glad-hander, he went that route with his friends, buying them drink and probably his convivial habits had much to do with undermining his health..."

"In 1910, Anderson returned from his winter post in Florida which he had for the previous six years, to take up the position of head pro at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, venue for the U.S. Open in June."

It was at this U.S. Open that a young, Philadelphia caddy, the teenage son of a postal clerk, tied for the lead and faltered at the end to the Scottish professionals. His father was surprised to read about his son the next day in the news papers. McDermott would come back to win the next two U.S. Opens back-to-back, and become the first native born American, and at 19, is still the youngest to have won the Open. And like Willie Anderson, McDermott would be touted as possibly the best to ever play the game, but whose career would be cut dramatically and tragically short.

As Seaton says, "It was reported in some quarters that Anderson's game had deteriorated but he was still playing to a high standard. In April 1910 he was second in the Florida Open, played several challenge matches with Gilbert Nicholls, described in the press as being of an excellent standard. In July he was a finalist in the Eastern Professional Golfers Association tournament. He did not show to defend his Western Open title at the end of August which may have been a reflection on his health."

There's a photo of Willie Anderson and Gil Nicholls together on the day before Anderson died. Nicholls was one of the old pros who played well in the early tournaments, and I believe, held the first professional's job at Seaview, only to be replaced by Scottish pro James "Jolly Jim" Fraser, when Nicholls had a run in with Seaview club owner Clarence Geist.

Seaton: "Exhibitions were still where Anderson made most of his money and in October he travelled to the Pittsburgh area for three 36-hole matches with other leading pros and amateurs. On 24th October the day after he and Gil Nicholls lost on the last hole to amateurs Eben Byers and William Fownes, Anderson returned to his home at Wissahickon Ave, Chestnut Hill near Philadelphia where he died the following day aged 31 years."

"On 28th October 1910, Willie Anderson was buried in Ivy Hill cemetery in Philadelphia. His father and mother attended the funeral. Three years later, Willie was followed to the grave by his father Tom aged 59 years after 13 years as pro at Montclair G.C. in New Jersey. Beside them is a statue of a golfer erected by the Eastern Professional Golfers Association whose president at that time was Jack Hobens the former North Berwick caddie."

"Following Anderson's death, the amateur golfer Charles Evans Jnr. twice U.S. Amateur Champion collaborated with businessman C B. Lloyd of the Goodrich Company to raise funds for Willie Anderson's widow. They organized a special exhibition of moving pictures of noted golfers at the Chicago Indoor Golf School with all proceeds going towards the fund."

It would be interesting to find out what happened to this early “moving pictures of noted golfers."

And you can’t read a story about Willie Anderson that doesn’t tell you that he died young from drinking too much, but that story just doesn’t hold water. For one, there are only a few references to him drinking at all, and one report seems to get all the play. In addition, he couldn’t have kept up his high standards of play if he was an alcoholic and drank himself to death, as previously reported in widely published accounts.

As Seaton puts it: "It was reported in some quarters that Anderson died of arteriosclerosis, a fatal hardening of the arteries. The Philadelphia Public Ledger said he suffered a brain tumor. Other sources suggest Anderson may have died from something less socially acceptable - acute alcoholism. Most modern descriptions of Anderson - ' dour' personality and 'boozy' lifestyle seem to emanate solely from one man quoted in one place - a profile of Anderson in the December 1929 issue of The American Golfer. In 2005, golf writer Bill Fields searched the Philadelphia City Archives and discovered the official cause of death for 31-year-old Anderson wasn't hardening of the arteries, as has long been reported but epilepsy."

There's a chapter on Chick Evans in The Birth of the Birdie. Coming right up.