Golf comes to Boston
from the American Golfer December 1912

The old Scotchman above referred to, having seen the golf clubs off in a corner, inquired where the links were located. He was told that there were none around Boston. Surprised to find golf clubs where there were no links, he made further inquiries and as a result was referred to Mr. Wright. 

They talked for some time on golf, with the result that before leaving, the old fellow promised to send Mr. Wright an enlightening book upon the game. Mr. Wright concluded that would be the end of the matter, but sure enough, the book later arrived. Considering that it would be nothing more than fair to show appreciation of such an act, Mr. Wright read the book carefully and decided to give the game a trial, which led to the golfing party at Franklin Park on Dec. 10, 1890. 

Boston Herald is taken the following account: "The Royal game was played on local grounds yesterday for, it is believed, the first time in the history of the city. "For some weeks it has been whispered in athletic circles that a game was on tapis, but those principally interested kept their own counsel, and when the contest came off, spectators were conspicuous by their absence, excepting a Herald man who was present by invitation. 

 The gentlemen composing the foursome were Messrs. Fred Mansfield, the expert tennis and cricketer; Sam Macdonald, George Wright and Temple Craig, while Mr. J. B. Smith admirably filled the onerous position of scorer. 

A vintage post card of the Golf Links at Franklin Park, Boston Massachusetts

 

"Before the game could be attempted it was necessary that permission to use Franklin Park be obtained and that permission the commissioners granted as soon as asked. In fact, everybody interested contributed something; the Park Commissioners the ground, Wright & Ditson the clubs and balls, Mr. Smith dug the holes and scored, the other players gave their time and energy, and the Herald man carried the spare sticks and niblick, filling for the nonce the humble but useful position of caddie. 

"Bitterly blew the blast and rapidly was the mercury in the thermometer seeking the shelter of the bulb when the pioneers of the game foregathered near the northern boundary of Franklin Park. Although Mr. Smith had shown much sagacity in laying out the links, and the holes included many hazards and bunkers, the prospect was almost as a result was referred to Mr. Wright.  

Although Mr. Smith had shown much sagacity in laying out the links, and the holes included many hazards and bunkers, the prospect was almost had to fish their gutties out of the tangle. Then followed one of the most solemn rites of golf and one which should never be neglected. It was accompanied by crackers and cigars. The second round was a repetition of the first, except that the play was better. Everyone enjoyed the game and acknowledged to an attack of golf fever. 
At present the necessary implements are scarce in Boston. Those loaned on this occasion had been imported from Scotland, but as it is said that the Boston Athletic Club will shortly take up the game, there should soon be many a set of sticks owned in the city. 

The following were the scores of yesterday: the game was again taken up in March, 1891, on the 28th, when a links was laid out on Crescent Beach, the players on that occasion being Mr. Wright, Mr. Macdonald, Mr. Mansfield, Mr. Charles Bramble and Mr. Frank Bates, with Mr. J. B. Smith and Mr. Wright's son, Beals, then being scorers and caddies. Mr. Wright won the tournament, "which was scratch, as such a thing as handicap was not thought of," says the writer. He went on: "Mr. Wright held that golf was the coming game and at that time wished to stock up with the goods, but his partner thought differently, and he did not push the matter." 

A copy of any ad for golfing equipment sold at Wright & Ditson
Wright & Ditson, Francis Ouimet's employer at the time of the 1913 US open

There were a few points about those early attempts at the game which the Herald writer did not mention. According to Mr. J. B. Smith, who is still in Mr. Wright's employ, the procurement of the permit to play at Franklin Park was not quite so easy. The Park Commissioners knew absolutely nothing about the game, and wanted to know how it was done and what damage would be done to the park. Mr. Wright himself had to appear and explain and as he knew one or two of the members, this speedily won their consent. Mr. Smith in addition to occupying the role of scorer also was the "first greens keeper in the district," in that he had to make the holes. The method was simple, but effective. Mr. Smith took along an axe and chopped the holes in the frozen ground, not round, but square. 

Mr. Wright chuckles even now about that "tournament" at Crescent Beach. He had read in the book sent him by the old Scotchman that the best links were those laid out on the seashore, hence the selection of Crescent Beach for play. From Crescent Beach, or, as it is now called, Revere Beach, down to Point of Pines there is a long, straight stretch of hard sand, hard enough and smooth enough below the high tide level to make a fine automobile race track. 

The golfing party waited until the tide went out before beginning play. It was not long before Mr. Wright divined that there must be something wrong about his interpretation of the book's message that seashore courses were best, or else that there was a vast difference between the sand at Crescent Beach and that abroad. Trying to get the club heads through that hard sand was disastrous. Shafts began to break like pipe stems and the result was a very much splintered set of clubs that went back in the caddy bag. 

Of the original four who went to Franklin Park in December, 1890, there were two present at the latest Old-Timers' tournament, Mr. Wright being one and Mr. Macdonald the other. These two are as enthusiastic ever golf to-day, or more so, than after their first trial at the game. Not the least pleasing feature of the play at Wollaston was that Mr. Wright tied for the second best gross, with 83, and also tied for the second best net prize.



George Wright

There certainly was a fine list of Old-Timers there, not the least conspicuous of whom was Mr. Laurence Curtis, of The Country Club, "father" of the game in that club and one of the earliest presidents of the United States Golf Association. It was a delightful day for Mr. Curtis, who on his inward round played about the best golf in his career, doing the last nine holes in 39 and having a total of 89 for the round. Mr. Herbert Jaques, who, with Mr. G. Herbert Windeler, has done so much to provide The Country Club with such a fine course as it now has, again was on hand.

To learn more about golf coming to Boston, continue your search here....

 

1913 US Open

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