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From Fields to Fairways

From Fields to Fairways: Classic Golf Clubs of Minnesota

Rick Shefchik
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    From Fields to Fairways
    Book Description:

    From Fields to Fairways is the first book to thoroughly explore the history, architecture, and joie de vivre of Minnesota golf clubs, bringing to life the personalities who founded and shaped the clubs and courses. Featuring more than two hundred photos, this will be the book of record on Minnesota’s illustrious golf history for fans and players of all handicaps.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8035-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Illustration]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: From Fields to Fairways
    (pp. xi-xiii)

    No one knows when the first golf shot was struck. There are competing claims that the game was invented by shepherds roaming the sandy linksland of Scotland, and that the sport evolved from a hockey-like game calledkolf,played in Belgium. We do know that golf was banned in Scotland from 1457 to 1502 because it interfered with military training. When the ban was lifted, the game became popular with kings, queens, and commoners over the next three centuries. The first important annual golf tournament, the Open Championship, was contested at Prestwick, Scotland, in 1860.

    Golf was already being played...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Wellspring The Town & Country Club (1893)
    (pp. 1-21)

    Early in the summer of 1893, a young, disgruntled reporter for the St. Paul Dispatch wandered into William Peet’s insurance office, looking for society gossip. He walked out with a misunderstanding that would lead to the creation of Minnesota’s first golf course.

    Thirty-seven years later, in 1930, Peet—the last survivor among the young men who had conceived of St. Paul’s Town & Country Club in 1888—wrote a letter to the club president, Dr. E. L. Kannary, explaining the origins of their golf course. Peet described the up-and-down fortunes of the fledgling club, which had been seeking a reason...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Cradle of Championships The Minikahda Club (1898)
    (pp. 23-49)

    The Minikahda Club was founded in 1898 by banker Clive T. Jaffray and a handful of other powerful Minneapolis businessmen. It was the site of Minnesota’s first important golf championship: the 1916 U.S. Open, at which amateur Charles “Chick” Evans—using just seven clubs, half the number allowed today—defeated an international field. Eleven years later, on a redesigned course, Bobby Jones crushed Evans in the finals of the U.S. Amateur on his way to establishing himself as the greatest player of his era—and one of the greatest of any era.

    Minikahda’s origins were quite humble. A shady Minneapolis...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Lake Superior Gem Northland Country Club (1899)
    (pp. 51-65)

    In the autumn of 1898, real estate man Alfred Taussig, attorney Edward Towne, lumberyard owner Charles Woodruff, and building supply dealer Dwight Cutler pedaled four miles eastward from downtown Duluth, looking for land on which to build a golf course. At Thirty-Ninth Avenue East they climbed a haystack and looked across a rolling meadow that seemed to tumble down the hillside to the shores of Lake Superior.

    The property, known as the Howell estate—now the site of the new Duluth East High School at Ordean Field—must have reminded the men of the pasture-turned–golf course they had recently...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Crossroads of History Interlachen Country Club (1909)
    (pp. 67-87)

    On a bitterly cold January day in 1910, Minneapolis newspaperman George Bickelhaupt and attorney Ransom J. Powell got off a streetcar in Edina and began trudging across a snow-swept farm field with a satchel that contained $12,000 in gold and gold certificates. Their destination was a farmhouse near Mirror Lake, where they intended to make a payment on the land that would become Interlachen Country Club.

    Bickelhaupt and Powell represented a group of Bryn Mawr golfers and businessmen who had spent the past year quietly scouting locations for a new private golf club. Bryn Mawr was about to be plowed...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Sailors and Golfers White Bear Yacht Club (1912)
    (pp. 89-111)

    Having developed a taste for golf at the Town & Country Club, Lucius Pond Ordway—a St. Paul plumbing supply dealer—saw no reason not to have a course at his sailing club ten miles northeast of the city. It would give him something to do between regattas.

    The first White Bear Yacht Club was established on the shores of the lake in the fall of 1889. By then, trains were making the thirty-minute trip between St. Paul and White Bear Lake each hour. Boating enthusiast Ordway was one of the first to build a summer cottage at the lake...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Ross Shows His Stuff Woodhill Country Club (1915)
    (pp. 113-125)

    Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey has consistently ranked at or near the top of polls as the greatest golf course in the world. Since it opened in 1914, golf course architects have flocked to the sandy pine barrens, not far from Philadelphia, to see the course for themselves.

    One of those architects—Donald Ross—was determined to top Pine Valley, and he chose a site in Orono, just north of Brown’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka, as the location of the course that could stand up to the world’s best.

    There had been golf on Lake Minnetonka as far...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Players’ Club Minneapolis Golf Club (1916)
    (pp. 127-145)

    By the time the U.S. Open came to Minikahda in 1916, golf was booming—and there weren’t enough courses in town to satisfy the growing demand. The only two Minneapolis-area clubs—Minikahda and Interlachen—were overcrowded and had long waiting lists. On February 1, 1916, a group of seven men from the Minneapolis Athletic Club met to explore the idea of starting a new club.

    At the next meeting, a committee reported that they’d found 30 prospective members and a 133-acre site in Golden Valley along Bassett Creek. The name Minneapolis Golf Club hadn’t been used since the Bryn Mawr...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Rising from the Ashes Golden Valley Golf and Country Club (1916)
    (pp. 147-161)

    When most of the Minneapolis Golf Club’s members packed up their mashieniblicks and left Golden Valley for St. Louis Park in October 1916, those who stayed behind continued with their plans to build a golf club. After all, the Minneapolis Golf Club had been created to fill an obvious need for more golf holes in the metropolitan area. The remaining members at Golden Valley were convinced one more golf club could survive, too.

    The club’s 133-acre site, a combination of pastureland, cornfields, and swamps bordering what is now known as Bassett Creek, was considered less convenient than Minnesota Golf Club’s...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Tillie’s Gift Rochester Golf & Country Club (1915)
    (pp. 163-175)

    Minnesota is blessed with two A. W. Tillinghast golf courses because his daughter Elsie married Mayo Clinic physician Phillip Brown in 1922 and moved to Rochester.

    Albert Warren Tillinghast, born in Philadelphia in 1874, became one of the nation’s most famous and in-demand golf course designers after an earlier career as a reporter and syndicated golf columnist and a solid record as a competitive amateur golfer. He frequently visited his daughter and son-in-law in Rochester while making trips around the country to design courses.

    Rochester already had a nine-hole golf course when Dr. Brown and his wife moved to town....

  15. CHAPTER TEN Raynor Comes to Minnesota Somerset Country Club (1919)
    (pp. 177-187)

    When Charles C. Gordon and C. Milton Griggs split from the Town & Coun try Club in 1919 to start their own golf club, they had two fundamental goals: to build an outstanding golf course and to have an uncrowded golf course.

    Charlie Gordon and Mil Griggs had been present at the inception of the Town & Country course, which began in 1893 with a few tomato cans sunk into a cow pasture. They learned to play as the course developed and came to love the game as so many of their fellow Town & Country members had. Gordon, who...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Professors’ Legacy Midland Hills Country Club (1920) University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course (1915)
    (pp. 189-209)

    There has been much confusion about the intertwined origins of Midland Hills Country Club and the University of Minnesota Golf Course. That confusion is understandable: Both courses were started by University of Minnesota professors who wanted a golf course close to the campus. The briefest explanation is that the original nine-hole University of Minnesota course opened in 1916 and was redesigned and expanded to eighteen holes by Tom Vardon in 1929; Midland Hills was designed by Seth Raynor and opened for play in 1921. But the details of their interwoven origins are more complicated than that.

    The two eighteen-hole courses...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE No Longer a Rich Man’s Game Municipal Golf (1916–34)
    (pp. 211-231)

    Until 1916, there was no such thing as a public golf course in Minnesota. Private courses had a monopoly on the game.

    Around 1905, there had been an abortive attempt by members of the Town & Country Club to convince the City of St. Paul to establish a public golf course. William F. Peet of Town & Country Club chronicled this effort in his 1930 reminiscence about the beginnings of golf in Minnesota: “There were then a very few municipal golf links in this country and in our misguided enthusiasm we thought the time was ripe to start one here,...

  18. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Jewish Golf Oak Ridge Country Club (1920) Hillcrest Golf Club (1921)
    (pp. 233-245)

    Private golf clubs were flourishing in Minnesota by 1920—but private clubs were by nature exclusionary, and Jews were among those excluded. Yet there was desire—and, in some cases, means—among Jewish golfers to establish a club where they could play the game.

    Jews were rarely hired in traditionally Anglo-Saxon-controlled industries like agriculture, milling, mining, lumber, transportation, and banking, but some Jews were able to forge successful careers in garment or cigar manufacturing, insurance, law, and medicine. A private golf club was not beyond the financial reach of the Jewish community.

    The roots of Jewish golf clubs in the...

  19. CHAPTER FOURTEEN Bring the Family Edina Country Club (1923)
    (pp. 247-255)

    Minneapolis real estate mogul Samuel S. Thorpe had grand plans for a housing development in the lightly populated farming village of Edina, bordering the southwest corner of Minneapolis. In 1922 Thorpe bought three hundred acres bounded by Minnehaha Creek to the west, Sunnyside Road to the north, Arden Avenue to the east, and West Fiftieth Street to the south, and named it the Country Club District. The land was originally part of a quarter-section tract that had been claimed by William Hoyt in 1855, and it had passed through many hands before Thorpe bought it. The site included a mill...

  20. CHAPTER FIFTEEN Spreading the Game Southview Country Club (1919) Stillwater Country Club (1924) Minnesota Valley Country Club (1924) Mendakota Country Club (1925)
    (pp. 257-285)

    By the 1920s, golf had become so popular and fashionable that no self respecting community of any size wanted to be without a course of its own—and no one wanted to have to drive to Minneapolis or St. Paul to try to get a tee time at one of the overcrowded municipal courses.

    On September 18, 1919, sixteen men gathered at the Commercial Club in South St. Paul to start a golf club originally called Louogden, named after meatpackers Louis Swift and Jonathan Ogden Armour, and later renamed Southview Country Club. Each of the sixteen kicked in $1,000 to...

  21. CHAPTER SIXTEEN The PGA Arrives Keller Golf Course (1929)
    (pp. 287-305)

    Keller Golf Course was not the first public course in Minnesota—it was preceded in the 1920s by Theodore Wirth (then known as Glenwood), Phalen, Columbia, Gross (then known as Armour), Highland Park, Meadowbrook, and at least two that no longer exist—Matoska (Gem Lake) and Hilltop (Columbia Heights).

    But Keller was unquestionably the best public course in the state for decades and certainly must have been considered one of the better public courses in the country, given how quickly it became the site of national tournaments. Keller gained national recognition from its first year of operation in 1929 and...

  22. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN James J. Hill’s Retreat North Oaks Golf Club (1949)
    (pp. 307-323)

    After the golf course construction boom of the 1920s, the industry came to a near standstill through the 1930s and 1940s. The Depression put many new courses and expansion plans on indefinite hold, and World War II brought material shortages, transportation limitations, and the indefinite absence of healthy younger men, always the game’s core participants.

    Even after the war, golf’s renewal was mostly about getting golf—and golf clubs—back to where they had been in peacetime.

    One Minnesotan was not interested in returning to the prewar status quo. Louis W. Hill Jr., grandson of Minnesota railroad tycoon James J....

  23. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Golf’s World Stage Hazeltine National Golf Club (1962)
    (pp. 325-352)

    By the end of the 1950s, few states could match Minnesota’s pedigree when it came to hosting the top names and tournaments in golf. The Minikahda Club had been the site of both a U.S. Open and a U.S. Amateur; Interlachen had captured the attention of the world when Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open there in 1930. The PGA Championship had been held in the state three times: twice at Keller and in 1959 at the Minneapolis Golf Club. The pros, from Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen, to Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus...

  24. AFTERWORD The Modern Classics: Golf’s Last Building Boom
    (pp. 353-356)

    When Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997 at the age of twenty-one, by a record margin of twelve shots, the golf world was swept up in a mood that former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan might have called “irrational exuberance.”

    Tiger’s storied burst into the national sporting consciousness was simply confirmation of what everyone in the golf industry believed to be true: a new generation of players was coming to the game. The children of the baby boomers had discovered golf. It would no longer be the stodgy pastime of comfortable, white suburban retirees. Young people of both genders...

  25. National Tournaments in Minnesota
    (pp. 357-358)
  26. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 359-360)
  27. Index
    (pp. 361-369)
  28. Back Matter
    (pp. 370-370)