Pro Golf Charities Begin During The Great War

I’m currenty reading Mark Frost’s The Grand Slam : Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf, which like his The Greatest Game Ever Played covers not only a single event, but also the society in which the event took place.

The beginning of the book covers the world of golf in which Bobby Jones grew up, with Francis Ouimet’s US Open Victory, and the barnstorming visit of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to Atlanta, which got young Bobby’s attention.

Then, Frost goes on to write about how the impact of the Great War on golf. In it, he lets slip a tidbit that I found fascinating and thought that I’d pass on …

In 1915:

Harry Vardon had just turned forty-four, his condition being fragile at best, being acepted into any active branch was out of the question. Realizing that to be seen practicing his profession might bring offense during a time when death lists filled the newspapers, Harry approached the Red Cross with the idea of playing exhibition matches to raise money, and enlisted J.H. Taylor and James Braid to help him. Their “Great Triumvirate” events proved a solid success, the birth of a tradition in golf that has contributed millions to charities ever since.

A few years ago, I was engrossed by a PBS series called “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century,” the premise of which was that much of what we were in that century was forged in the fires of World War I. It seems that golf charities, too, owe their origins to that seminal event.

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