Pittsburgh's Golf Course in Schenley Park 
thrown open to the public.
American Golfer July 1912



In a drizzling rain, Pittsburgh's  Golf Course in Schenley Park was formally thrown open to the public in the presence of several hundred persons. Speeches appropriate to the occasion were delivered by a number of Pittsburgh's noted public men. Delightful music was furnished by a band during the dedicating festivities. An address on "The People's Links," was delivered by Mr. Jos. G. Armstrong, Director of the Department of Public Works. "The Fair Green" was City Solicitor Charles A. O'Brien's subject. 

Congressman J. Francis Burke spoke on "Keep Your Eye on the Ball." City Councilman Enoch Rauh also spoke. Immediately after the speeches Congressman Burke drove the first ball from the tee. The new club house, built by an appropriation of $10,000 by the city council, is equipped with lockers, shower-baths, and a broad veranda and is well suited for the needs of the present day golfer. 

The city has employed Willie McBride, a well-known professional, to assume charge of the course. An interesting foursome was played by the speakers. In past years the Pittsburgh Golf Club, a private club, had been using the links for their own purposes. 

From The American Golfer August 1912

So successful have the public links in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park proven that the building of additional links in different parts of the city is now under contemplation. The links which are conducted by the city have proven very popular, and the city is now planning to enlarge the clubhouse built this season. It has already proven too small and three times as many applications are in for lockers as can be supplied. Through the untiring efforts of City Solicitor Charles A. O'Brien, it is quite likely that the city will utilize the Riverview Park grounds and establish a free golf course for the Northsiders. Mr. O'Brien was instrumental in having the City Council appropriate $10,000 for building the new 80 locker clubhouse in Schenley Park, this year.

From The American Golfer October 1912

There is a movement now afoot for the formation of a club among the many players who frequent the City's public golf links in Schenley Park. There would be many advantages to the players through the formation of such a move. Among those behind the movement are City Solicitor Charles A. O'Brien, the "father of free golf links" in Pittsburgh and Willie McBride, the professional in charge at the Club. A meeting will be called within a short time to perfect the organization.

From The American Golfer December 1912

In token of esteem a beautiful loving cup was presented to City Solicitor Charles A. O'Brien, last month, by the golf players who frequent the public links, in recognition of his faithful efforts in providing free golf for the people. The cup is 18 inches in height, and is handsomely decorated. On one side is the following inscription: "Token of esteem to Charles A.O'Brien, Esq., City Solicitor of Pittsburgh, Pa., 1912." On the other side, "Presented by golf players using Schenley Park public links in recognition of his efforts in providing a golf course free to the general public."

From the American Golfer January 1913

During the past season the new Schenley Park Golf Club of Pittsburgh has come into existence as the result of the Council's ordinance in making the Schenley links a public course. The club is now preparing a set of by-laws and expect to apply for admission in the local association. The new club boasts of quite a large membership at present and by the time summer arrives will likely have a membership of 300. The club includes many representative men of the city.

From the American Golfer February 1913

Golf agitation is at such a fever heat that a widespread appeal has been made to the City Council, asking for the appropriation of one of the North Side parks to be turned into a public golf course. Ever since the former Pittsburgh Golf Club's course was made public by action of Council, residents of the North Side have been busy preparing a petition asking that a course be constructed. Many of the free parks could be turned into excellent golf courses without much expense and loss of time. Some action was taken concerning the proposal last fall, but nothing was done at that time on account of the lateness of the season, but satisfactory word was given that something would be done before the opening of the golf season for this year.

A vintage photo of the golf course in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park
Schenley Park Golf Club of Pittsburgh

There has also been much discussion that a 9-holes course would be laid out in the picturesque Highland Park, situated in the most aristocratic section of Pittsburgh. However, nothing has been accomplished to verify this report. The park is plenty large enough for the purpose.

From the American Golfer March 1913


A vintage photo of the clubhouse owned by the Pittsburgh Golf Club.
Pittsburgh Golf Club

  From the present outlook it looks as if there will be no more public courses instituted this year than were in session the past year. Much discussion had been rife during the winter months that a course would be built in one of the many North Side Parks. However, up to the present time there has been too much talk and too little accomplishment. A number of parks could be selected which would serve for a fair 9-hole course, but the pushing activity has not been forceful and as the opening of the season is fast approaching it looks as if the plans of the North Side contingent are doomed for this year. The announcement that a course might be made in Highland Park have also proven groundless. Although such a procedure could easily be accomplished.


From the American Golfer June 1913

After much unnecessary delay and anxiety on the part of the golfers who play on the City's Public Golf Links in Schenley Park, work of enlarging the clubhouse to meet the demands of the increasing number of golfers has finally commenced. An additional section is being constructed on the left wing of the present building and when completed will contain 206 additional lockers, arranging for the accommodation of 412 golfers. Each locker will be used by two persons. The fee for the use of a locker is $2.50 upon application to the Superintendent of the City Parks. Besides the additional lockers hot and cold showers will be instituted, giving the public all the advantages which one might receive at any private club. At the present time, including the standing number of applicants, it has been approximately estimated that 700 golfers have locker accommodations at the club. This increased congestion for one course easily proves that additional public courses in Pittsburgh are absolutely necessary. The authorities realize this predicament, but they have failed to alleviate this realized congestion. 

Two new courses have been spoken of in different parks of the city, but at the present writing nothing has been gleaned from any of the city solons whether such a procedure is really contemplated immediately. There has been much talk of constructing a course in Highland Park, but the situation is as grave as that which faces our friendly city, Philadelphia. Each has failed to cope with its present situation. The city officials do not care to injure the grass or possibly destroy a few trees by flying gutta percha. But the agitation is becoming so heated and the affair so publicly prominent that in all probability at least one new public course and possibly two will be in readiness for the formal opening next season. 

Cobb's Creek Golf Course,  Philadelphia's first public golf links. Circa 1916

For the enlightenment of the city fathers let it be authentically stated that Des Moines, Iowa, has three public courses and the figures for the recent fiscal year show that golf courses are more easily maintained than regular parks, where a person is ordered to keep off the grass and touch nothing. The Schenley Golf Club, of Pittsburgh, which was formed last season by golfers who inhabit the public links is still in existence with bright prospects for the season. The club has now a membership of about 125, and it is rapidly increasing. A meeting will be called this month to elect officers and prepare definite plans for the seasons play. Several cup tournaments will be scheduled. If the club is established on a firm basis it is likely that application will be made for membership with the local association. The club boasts of several good players and while they cannot be classified as a body of sterling golfers they can play a fairly good game.

From the American Golfer September 1913

 The Schenley Park Golf Club of Pittsburgh staged its first tournament of the season last month. The event was 18-holes medal play under handicaps and was open to any member during the three days scheduled. Mr. L. W. Bigham took first prize with a net 67. He covered the course in 82. Mr. S. B. Linhart and Mr. W. J. Diehl were tied for second and third prizes with a net 69. The new club is composed of members who frequent the public links in Schenley Park.

......the addition to the clubhouse for golfers who frequent the public golf links in Schenley Park has been completed and all of the lockers have been let. The new club-house now accommodates at least 600 golfers, not counting those who play over the course and who have no locker accommodations. During a Saturday afternoon it is estimated that over 300 golfers play during the day. And the course is fast showing the results of its heavy burden. Many inexperienced golfers slash away at their ball, chopping out large divots. Instead of replacing them, they continue onward, leaving the turf to die in the burning sun. As the result the fairgreens are showing signs of "worts." Then the greens are becoming bumpy and worn. However, its not the fault of the greenkeeper or the course itself. It is the individual golfer. The course is becoming so congested that a player is compelled to wait nearly 30 minutes at the first tee. And then the waits at different holes makes the game a laborious pleasure and a tiresome contest. Appeals have been made for more municipal courses, but the city solons do not see fit to construct public courses, for fear of destroying delicate trees and tender shrubbery.

Public courses in Pittsburgh have a history as long and as colorful as any in the country. Pittsburgh's efforts in this area are truly pride worthy.

To learn more about public golf courses in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, continue your search here......

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