Inter-Club Golf Competition In Michigan In 1901
As early as 1901, there was a thriving competitive golf scene in Michigan, with matches arranged between members of different clubs. and at least one nearly statewide championship: the Post Cup.
Among the clubs appearing in newspaper reports in 1901 were Washtenaw Country Club, Detroit Golf Club, Country Club of Detroit, Ann Arbor Golf and Outing, Pointe Aux Barques Golf Club, Battle Creek Country Club, Waniken Golf Club, Kalamazoo Country Club and Saginaw Country Club. An unnamed club in Jackson also is mentioned.
Actually, a great many of the courses go unnamed in early articles The courses often were referenced by the town, as though readers were supposed to know which club was there. Thus, there’s an Ann Arbor “team” and an Ypsilanti “team.” At that point those can only refer to Golf and Outing and Washtenaw CC. That could reflect the relatively small number of clubs, but also reflects the generally sloppy nature of newspaper writing in those days.
Clubs that were not mentioned (that I could find), but that also were in existence at the time were Wawashkamo, Harbor Point, Wequetonsing and Les Cheneaux. There surely were many more (and many lost to time).
A “statewide” competition in 1901 was the C.W. Post Cup, played by five teams on November 14, 1901. (I find the November date interesting. Was the weather generally warm enough in November in 1901 to play golf?).
The winner of the “Post Cup Championship” was a team of two players from Washtenaw Country Club: Mr. Bennen and Mr. Todd. The Free Press reported that they shot 208 over 36 holes. The Washtenaw team defeated the team of Flansberg and Campbell from Waniken “by one hole.”
That sort of reporting doesn’t really clarify whether it was stroke or match play.
C.W. Post was the breakfast foods magnate who founded the Post Cereals brand in 1895 in Battle Creek. A native of Springfield, Illinois, he came to Battle Creek to be treated at a sanitarium operated by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. The Doctor, along with his brother W.K. Kellogg, was the inventor of Corn Flakes, which were part of the diet of the sanitarium’s patients.
Do some reading on the Kelloggs. It’ll leave you shaking your head. Post also had his issues.
Interestingly, the Post competition excluded Detroit clubs (presumably Detroit Golf Club and Country Club of Detroit).
Was there already a Detroit vs The Rest of the State dynamic at play in those days?
The exclusion probably didn’t bother the Detroit Golf Club and the CC of Detroit, who were engaged in multiple cross club competitions. The Detroit Free Press reported on several of those.
Among the competitions was a September 22, 1901 event in which a “Country Club” team defeated the “Detroit club” at the Grosse Pointe Farms links. The match play final score was 16 to 2 in favor of The Detroit Country Club.
Also in play that day was a women’s golf competition. The event was a nine hole event played with an “unknown bogie” of 55. A Mrs. Case won the game on the number.
The reporting suggests that they’re playing a “blind bogey” game where a random number is drawn in secret before the game. The “Blind Bogey” number can be anything between par and 100. At the end of the tournament, the player whose handicap adjusted score is closest to the Blind Bogey number wins.
The September 8, 1901 edition of the Free Press reported that the Detroit Golf Club defeated the Washtenaw Golf Club by eight holes at their home course. That home course was not one of the current Donald Ross designs, though. Ross’ designs for DGC did not come about until 1916.
A Free Press article on October 27, 1901 covers intra-club competitions at the Country Club (of Detroit) and Detroit Golf Club. The final paragraph, however, suggests a Washtenaw County Championship held at the Golf and Outing Club for the first half and at Washtenaw Golf Club for the second.
These sorts of competitions likely remained the most important in Michigan until the formation of the Golf Association of Michigan in 1919.