Always on the lookout for rare golf club histories, we stumbled upon a real gem this past summer. The Toy Town Golf Course, located in Winchendon, Massachusetts was designed by Donald Ross. Winchendon is located in Northern Massachusetts and was known at the time as “Toy Town”.
Could it be that a course we have never heard of has a club history worth more than the most storied courses in the world like Shinnecock, Cypress Point and Royal Liverpool? Indeed. This rarity can be found very seldom and when it is, it sells for thousands of dollars.
“Toy Town” was so named by Paul E. Converse, who was the driving force behind making the entire town over in the image of toys. Converse served in the Civil War and when he returned home his business fortunes declined. McClure’s Magazine did a fascinating profile of him in 1913 and tells his story well. At the time, almost all toys in the US were imported from Europe, and Germany in particular dominated the market. Converse saw a market opportunity to makes toys in the U.S. and built a factory there which was very successful. Winchendon was gripped by toy fever at the time or the McClure’s article and it describes getting off the train and seeing the Toy Town Tavern and buying Toy Town chocolates.
The Toy Town Golf Course (D & J C18700) was privately published c1926 and was written by A.D. Converse, presumably a relative of Paul’s. The book is only 26 pages and contains many photographs of the course. The cover of the book features a child on a toy horse over a golf ball and the words, “Ride Your Hobby at Toy Town.”
Toy Town Golf Course still exists as the Winchendon Golf Course. From their website, “Winchendon is a short, narrow course with small greens (with many breaks) and hilly fairways that are basically untouched from the day Ross redesigned them in 1926. Some of the bunkers and tee sizes have been modified over the decades. It requires an accurate short game, and local knowledge helps the golfer overcome the often tricky lies.”