History of Golf - Part Five America and Golf

By George WhiteJuly 24, 2002, 4:00 pm
It is not known for certain when golf came to America ' only that when it got a toehold in the 20th century, America became the world leader in great players.
 
The earliest known reference to golf in America is a Dutch ordinance at Fort Orange ' later Albany, N.Y. ' in 1659.A History of Golf by Robert Browning gives a translation of the edict:
 
The Honourable Commissary and Magistrates of Fort Orange and the village of Bererwyck, having heard divers (diverse) complaints from burghers of this place against the practice of playing golf along the streets, which causes great damage to the windows of the houses, and also exposes people to the danger of being injured and is contrary to the freedom of the public streets;
 
Therefore their honours, wishing to prevent the same, hereby forbid all persons to play golf in the streets, under the penalty of forfeiture of Fl. 25 for each person who shall be found doing so.
 
There is much belief that what was played was not Scottish golf, however, but the Dutch game of kolven. Browning writes that, There is no reason to suppose that kolven as played in the Dutch colony in 1659 differed in any respect from the Dutch kolven already described in Chapter III (a game played on ice, told in the origination of the game of golf.)
 
Another reference to the game is an advertisement in Rivingtons Royal Gazette, a New York newspaper, in 1779.This ad confirms the tradition of golf being played by Scottish officers in New York during the period of the Revolutionary War.
 
This ad stated: To the GOLF PLAYERS ' The Season for this pleasant and healthy Exercise now advancing, Gentleman may be furnished with excellent CLUBS and the veritable Caledonian BALLS, by enquiring at the Printers.
 
Recent research into records at the port of Leith show that clubs and balls were shipped the colonies as early as 1743.A shipment of 96 clubs and 432 balls were sent to Charleston, S.C., that year.And in 1786 the South Carolina Golf Club was established, followed by the Savannah Golf Club in 1795.In 1811, a Miss Eliza Johnston issued an invitation to her wedding at the Savannah Golf Club.
 
Did they refer to golf as we know it?We dont know ' there is nary a newspaper account in this era that a match was actually played, nor are there golf relics.Golf was the rage in Scotland at this time and some theorize that the people of South Carolina were merely copying names which were European.Others hold firm to the belief that golf was actually being played in America.
 
At any rate, the War of 1812 pitting the U.S. against Britain effectively killed the game in America for decades.Golf was seen as British and would not be in favor in the United States for 80 years or so.
 
The first North American golf club, therefore, was not in the United States.Three-hole courses had sprung up in Montreal and Quebec, brought to the area by a military ships officers from Scotland.And on Nov. 4, 1873, the Royal Montreal Golf Club was born.It would be 15 years before a similar golf club was established in the United States.
Russell Montague of Pittsburgh, who studied as a young man in Britain, founded a course in 1884. He and several of his golf-loving colleagues enthusiastically participated, but they eventually moved away and play was discontinued in 1910.A Scot, J. Hamilton Gillespie, brought golf to Sarasota, Fla., in 1885.His two-hole course in the middle of town was revolutionary at the time, but it, too, failed to survive.
 
Which brings to the scene one John Reid, a New Yorker from Scotland who had often seen the game played while a youngster growing up on Scotlands seaside links.Reid settled in Yonkers, N.Y., and became an executive with an iron foundry.
 
He learned that in 1887 friend and fellow Scot Robert Lockhart was going to Scotland on a business trip.Reid requested that Lockhart order some clubs and balls while at St. Andrews, which Lockhart did.When the shipment of six clubs and balls arrived in the winter, Lockhart excitedly went to the Hudson River, which was iced over, and hit a few shots.Then he delivered the implementsto Reid.
 
Reid had intended to wait to play until warmer weather in the spring, but on Feb. 22, 1888, he was home for the holiday of Washingtons Birthday.The day was clear with relatively mild temperatures, so Reid hurriedly got together a few of his friends and laid out a three-hole course in a Yonkers cow pasture.
 
The little group was smitten, and when summer came, they built six holes and moved to a nearby 30-acre site.In November of 1888, they formed an informal club ' the St. Andrews Golf Club.As it developed, it was the first surviving golf club in America.
 
The Shinnecock Hills club gets credit as the first to have a real course built on rural turf. The area chosen was along of the Great Peconic Bay on Eastern Long Island and shares were sold at $100 each.A clubhouse was erected and in 1891 play commenced.
 
The first 18-hole course in America was the Chicago Golf Club, built in 1893.And in 1894, the first national amateur events were played.
 
That summer the Newport (R.I.) sent out invitations and 20 players attended to compete at medal play.Charles Blair Macdonald, who was to gain fame as a course architect, was heavily favored and shot 89 in the opening round.In the final 18 holes, however, he struggled fitfully and shot 100, handing the tournament to W.G. Lawrence.Macdonald was upset, claiming the tournament should have been settled by match play, not medal.
 
A month later, Macdonald was one of 28 players to compete in a national tourney at St. Andrews.He managed to get all the way to the finals, where he lost to Laurence Stoddard in a playoff when Macdonald sliced his tee shot into a cornfield.His excuse this time was that he was ill.
 
Such controversies caused the United States Golf Association to be formed on Dec. 22, 1894.Representatives of five clubs were invited ' St. Andrews, Shinnicock Hills, Chicago Golf Club, Newport and The Country Club at Brookline, Mass.Macdonald finally won the event, played at Newport, routing Charlie Sands, 12 and 11 in the first U.S. Amateur.
 
One day later, 10 pros and one amateur took over the course to play the first U.S Open. The Open was strictly an afterthought, the Amateur considered to be where the real competition was.Horace Rawlins, an Englishman, won. And one month later, Mrs. Charles S. Brown won the U.S. Amateur, arranged on short notice and played in Hempstead N.Y.
 
Golf in America had indeed begun.
 
By 1900, the explosion of the game in America was complete.Proof was that, at the turn of the century, there were more golf clubs in the United States than there were in Britain.
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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.


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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1