The amount of early North American golf history represented by these 55 scorecards is staggering. We are not talking about 5 or 10 or 15 cards here from among the earliest courses in America, which would be fabulous in their own right, we are talking Fifty-Five! While some of the golf clubs that issued these cards are famous today, there are others that virtually nobody today knew existed. These 55 cards represent 55 deep wells of golf history.
The cards in this lot date from various points within the 1890s to 1910. Any scores marked on any of these cards were made using wood-shafted clubs and either guttys or early rubber core balls. Many cards simply are marked "189_", "190_", and "191_", so the golfer need only put in the last digit of the year. The cards marked 191_ by definition would allow for a "0" to be written in, so they were included by the auctioneer as part of this lot. Some cards have had the date filled in by the golfer. Not all of the cards have dates. In those instances where they don't, the auctioneer made a
concerted, conscientious effort to catalog the cards based on
physical and stylistic factors—and the nature of the card. The
auctioneer makes no guarantees that every single one of the 55 cards is dated
accurately. But the effort was made to do so.
For example, the two different Palm Beach Golf Links cards are not dated but they offer only six holes (laid out by Alex Findlay, incidentally).... A little looking on the web and we learn the Palm Beach Golf Links dates to 1896-1897. <https://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/20181228/palm-beach-history-breakers-is-where-golf-truly-began-in-palm-beach> It's interesting as the article just referenced notes that there is some question as to the number of holes on the original course: "Documents recounting the first course describe it as a nine-hole course,
but some 1897-98 newspaper articles indicate it had six holes ..." These two cards provide proof that the original course was 6 holes.
Updated 7-12-2020 : Then there is the Baltusrol scorecard. Baltusrol was founded in 1895 and by all accounts they played on a 9-hole course, finally expanding to a full 18 holes in 1898. The Baltusrol scorecard in this lot, however, shows that Baltusrol had ten holes that were used to make an 18 hole round before they had 18 actual holes. (Check out the card to see how 10 holes were used to make 18). A second Baltusrol card in this lot shows the full 18 holes built in 1898. The 10th hole on this "Baltusrol Old Course" card is 300 Yards. By the 1904 US Amateur held at Baltusrol, the 10th hole had a new island green and measured 330 yards. The 18 holes of the Old Course, however, were plowed under to make way for the Tillinhast-designed Upper and Lower courses that opened for play in 1922.
Ever play a round of golf that had two par 3 1/2 holes and two par 4 1/2 holes? They used to do just that at Upper Montclair, and The Upper Montclair "191_" card in this collection proves it. It took years before anyone made a par on any of those 4 holes! (An eventual card change unlocked the flood gates!)
There are a number of postcards that attach to some of the scorecards in this collection, some of the postcards actually dating 1910 or earlier. The Baltusrol clubhouse postcard is postmarked 1906. The clubhouse burned down in 1909.
This lot includes an 189_ Royal Montreal Golf Club scorecard. Founded
in 1871, Royal Montreal is the oldest club still operating in North
America, consequently this scorecard could be the oldest one of the lot.
Some of the cards were once in a scrapbook setting so there are marks on the back of the card caused by their removal, but hey, they are still great scorecards due to their exceeding scarcity.
The bulk of these cards are in fantastic condition. Many are mint. Somebody was very careful to collect and preserve these cards many years ago.
These cards would add a major dimension to any golf collection anywhere in the world. It's extremely unlikely that a lot like this will come up again anytime soon, if ever. This is your shot—don't miss it.
Note: All the cards in this lot are pictured. They are presented
in mylar page holders that are pictured first the front side, then the
back side, and then the next page and repeat. In some instances cards
are out of their sheet protectors for a closer look. These are not duplicates. They are
the same card(s) that are shown in their mylar sheet protector(s).
A rough data base that lists all the cards in this lot was prepared.
It is shown in the very last image of this lot. A few
notes about the cards were into this data base, but the notes while far from complete or consistent are hopefully helpful.
A few more points. There were some great course designers represented by these cards. The auctioneer searched out only a few:
Dutchess County was designed by the 1874 British Open Champ Mungo Park, Willie Park's brother.
Oakland Golf Club and Dyke Meadow were designed by Tom Bendelow.
Westbrook Golf Club and The Golf Club of Lakewood were designed by Willie Dunn, Jr.
Palm Beach Golf Club was designed by Alex Findlay, the father of American Golf.
At random, the auctioneer googled Crescent Athletic Club of Brooklyn to see what that golf course was all about. And what history that club has! It was The Place to belong once upon a time, but golf is hardly spoken of in its history on the web. However, The Crescent Athletic Club 1897 scorecard in this collection documents the course they played on in previously unknown detail.
I just googled another card: Dyker Meadow Golf Club. Wow! That place created a fair bit of controversy!
Going one card at a time through this collection and searching out the history of these early golf clubs and courses would uncover an incredible amount history that attaches directly to the cards in this lot. The BGI card in the mylar sleeve has a blue post it note with a question mark. I believe that card was made later.
These early scorecards are a truly a treasure.