The Beginning of American Golf
Considered the beginning of American golf history, in 1887 a New York linen merchant, named Robert Lockhart, received a package of two dozen gutta- percha balls and six golf clubs. Lockhart, a Scottish immigrant who played golf in Musselburgh as a kid, bought the balls and clubs from Old Tom Morris himself in his shop at St. Andrews during a trip back to Scotland. Lockhart and his two sons took the balls and clubs to a park on the West side to try them out. A policeman, bemused by the scene, got off his horse and took a few swings. With his first swing he hit a wonderful shot as far as the ones Lockhart had hit himself. The policeman then proceeded to miss the ball on his next few attempts and walked away quite displeased. After trying out the clubs, Lockhart gave the equipment to his boyhood friend John Reid, who was an executive at J.L. Mott Iron Works. Reid and five friends took the equipment and laid out three short holes on pastureland that was across from Reid’s home in Yonkers. Since they only had the couple clubs, Reid played a friendly match against one of his friends, John Upham.
Soon Reid and his friends moved to larger pastures, one of which had a bunch of apple trees. The group was nicknamed “The Apple Tree Gang” and Reid became known as “the father of American golf.” By year’s end they formed the St. Andrew’s (with an apostrophe) Golf Club and within a few years they had a nine hole course in Hastings-on-Hudson with a little clubhouse and a growing membership. The club’s famous members would include business men of repute such as Andrew Carnegie. Golf was finally starting to gain footing on the Eastern seaboard of America.