Three Gems in the Hamptons
New York’s Long Island unquestionably has some of the best golf in the world. Potential golf rich rival areas can be counted on one hand: the sand belt area of Australia, The Monterey Peninsula and sections of England, Ireland and Scotland. In this month’s newsletter we review the golf club histories of this unique area. There is so much to cover that we have split the newsletter in two this month. This portion will cover the three gems that exist in the Hamptons: Shinnecock Hills and The National in Southampton and Maidstone in East Hampton. The second newsletter will cover Garden City, Fishers Island, Bethpage Black and others. Long Island has played host to over 13 major championships.
Shinnecock Hills written by Ross Goodner in a limited edition of 500 copies was published in 1966. One of the most expensive of all golf club histories, it is only 48 pages. The book is blue with gilt and the Shinnecock logo of an Indian head. The book itself is actually not one of the better golf club histories but is valuable due to its scarcity and the special place that Shinnecock holds in the golfing world. The most interesting feature of the book in our view is the translucent dust jacket. It is made of a very unusual fabric. It is generally referred to as the “spider web” jacket because the motif is of a spider web with spiders crawling. The jacket material is fragile and rips easily so it is quite difficult to find this book with a good jacket present.
Shinnecock Hills 1891-1991 was edited by George Peper and was issued in alimited edition of 1,000. It is based on the original text by Ross Goodner and contains 88 pages, including many illustrations. The cover is a green plastic and gilt lettering and has an illustration of the Shinnecock Indian head.
A much rarer item is Some Facts, Reflections, and Personal Reminiscences connected with the introduction of the game of golf in the United States more especially associated with the formation of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. This was written by Samuel L. Parrish a former president of the club and is 20 pages and softcover. It contains a picture of the clubhouse in 1923 and an 1892 sketch by McKim, Mead and White.
Another book that covers Shinnecock extensively is Golf in America by James Lee, written in 1895. Although not only about Shinnecock, Lee was a member of the club and he reviews the original, now changed, course in detail.
The National Golf Links of America
Shinnecock’s neighbor, the Charles Blair Macdonald designed National Golf Links of America is a decidedly low key affair. The club does not seek any attention and publicity and thus has not published any histories. If you have been fortunate enough to drive through the narrow entrance gate and have played the National you have experienced one of golf’s great pleasures.
Macdonald’s autobiography Scotland’s Gift published in 1928 by Scribner’s is a good place to start if you are interested in the National. Macdonald was a man with a large ego, and it comes through in this book. He writes extensively about The National in the book. This 340 page book is highly recommended for the serious collector because Macdonald was such an influential figure in American golf. The book contains a fold-out map of The National at the rear.
The Evangelist of Golf, written by George Bahto is a biography of Macdonald published in 2002. It is the closest a book has come to being a history of The National and includes extensive historical material and a hole-by-hole review of the course. A highly recommended book.
If you are a National aficionado you can seek out various members hand books the club has published over the years. We site several only as examples below. National Golf Links of America Members 1986 is asmall white book, only 32 pages, and the cover is adorned with the National logo (the links man). At the time dues were $1,450/year with an initiation fee $10,000. The 1955 version is 27 pages and at the time the club had a golf committee, a yachting committee and an airport committee. The book lists the founders, house rules, general rules, constitution, and contains a copy of the original certificate of incorporation.
National Golf Links of America by-laws. Published in 1927, 50 pages the book is half white/half maroon with a gilt title and a gilt circle in maroon stating National Golf Links of America with an eagle illustration. This was the original logo used by the club before it adopted the links man. The by-laws warns “automobilists on the club property must not use cutouts nor exceed a speed limit of twenty miles per hour, this because the noise coming from the cut-outs is extremely annoying to the golfers, to whose interest the club is primarily devoted.” C.B. Macdonald comes through loud and clear!
The Links waspublished in 2004 in a limited edition. It was published for the members of The Links Club and done by our favorite golf book team of Anthony Edgeworth and John De St. Jorre. This exclusive club located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at 36 E 62nd Street is a sanctuary in the city. While not a golf book, one of the founders of the club is none other than Charles Blair Macdonald who references it frequently in his autobiography. The membership has included David Rockefeller and Presidents Bush, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, as well as many others in the top rung of American society. The exclusive club had early ties to the U.S.G.A. due to MacDonald’s presence. The book has a green plastic cover with the gilt links logo, is 57 pages and was issued with a green protective slipcase.
National Golf Links of America: Statement of Charles Blair Macdonald, 1912, Southampton, NY was published in a limited edition of 100. It is quite special since it was distributed to the founders of the National Golf Links of America. It is only 28 pages and includes an illustration of the course scorecard and course layout as full pages. Tan hardcover with red letters, signed by Macdonald on page 21.
Located about 10 miles further east than both Shinnecock and The National is Maidstone. Although ranked #60 in the top #100 golf courses in the world by Golf Magazine, Maidstone is an under-rated and special golf course. A links style course located on the Atlantic Ocean it has played host to many golfing greats.
History of the Maidstone Golf Club 1891-1941, published in 1941 was done in a limited edition of 500. The president of the club at the time of the book’s publication was Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan Am Airways. The book is an extensive history and has many illustrations. How many courses can boast that their members used to fly into the Hamptons from New York on their sea planes?
The Maidstone Club 2 Volumes 1891-1941 and 1941-1991 was published by Phoenix Publishing, East Hampton, NY in a limited edition of 750. This two volume set was published with a blue slipcase. Both are blue cloth with gilt lettering and gilt logo. The first volume is a facsimile reprint of the original history from 1941. The second volume covers 1941-1991. Includes a list of members from both 1941 and 1991 in the rear of each book. The book includes a picture of Bobby Jones when he played at Maidstone in 1933 dressed quite nattily. Maidstone is much more than just a golf club; it includes tennis and a beach club and this reflected in the history.
The Maidstone Links was published in 1997 and is credited to David Goddard. This 144 page book contains extensive color and black and white photographs and is very well done.