A new discovery of an old grave could become the latest tourist attraction at the home of golf.
That's what several golfing groups in Scotland hope, anyway.
Arnaud Massy – who made history as the first non-Briton to win the British Open back in 1906 – was buried in the Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland, after his death in 1950. But no one seemed to remember that fact for 63 years, until his unkempt grave was recently rediscovered.
The discovery provoked a huge response from the British golf community, which installed a new headstone during a reconsecration service last Saturday to honor Massy. According to The Scotsman newspaper, the ceremony was attended by representatives of the R&A; the British Golf Collectors Society; the European Association of Golf Historians and Collectors; Douglas Seaton, a golf historian from nearby North Berwick who actually located the grave; Hugh Henderson, a great nephew of Massy; Pierre-Alain Coffinier, the French Consul in Edinburgh; and a representative of the French Golf Federation.
''Hopefully many golfers will come here as a pilgrimage,'' said Coffinier. ''Arnaud Massy was one of golf's biggest champions and we are very proud that he has been honored with such a service in Scotland, where golf is at the core of its identity.''
One of golf's great early champions, Massy was born in the French resort community of Biarritz in 1877, and became a caddie to supplement the money he was making as a sardine fisherman. He met several top British golfers who spent the winter in southern France, and moved to North Berwick, Scotland, to pursue his love of golf.
By winning the 1906 British Open at Royal Liverpool, he became the first player from continental Europe to win a major – and was the only one until Seve Ballesteros won the 1979 British Open. He also won the first French Open in 1906 as well as the second French Open in 1907, as well as the first Belgian Open in 1910 and the first Spanish Open in 1912.
He put golf aside for four years to serve in the French military during World War I, and returned to the game in his 40s. He won his fourth French Open in 1925 at age 48, then defeated Bobby Jones in a 1926 exhibition match in France and went on to win the Spanish Open again in both 1927 and 1928.
''We are very pleased to be associated with this event,'' R&A representative Philip Truett told The Scotsman. ''If there are other champion golfers not recognized in the correct way, we should pursue this.''
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The recovery of the golf economy, like the recovery of the economy in general, is happening in fits and starts, and accelerating in some places more than others. One area where golf seems to be bouncing back better than most is Dallas-Fort Worth.
A recent story in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram highlighted how several golf facilities are starting to step on the gas for the first time in several seasons.
At Timarron Country Club – on Byron Nelson Parkway in the upscale Fort Worth suburb of Southlake – recent renovations costing seven figures added a media room, outdoor dining and a complete upgrade of food and beverage operations, the story said. And along with clubhouse renovations, the nearby Trophy Club improved its chipping/wedge practice area, expanded its putting area and renovated its driving range with a target fairway and greens.
Both those facilities are owned by the Dallas-based ClubCorp, which last year spent $65 million on renovations to its various properties, according to ClubCorp President and CEO Eric Affeldt. He also said the company would spend just as much this year as well, with some of the cash going to remodel the clubhouse at Arlington's Shady Valley Golf Club.
"The improvements will allow these clubs, already established in their communities, to stay relevant and offer even more value to their members," Affeldt told the Star-Telegram. "What we're trying to do is appeal to a broader customer ... what we can do for the entire family."
Some facilities are being transformed not by huge corporations but by individuals. Among them are Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth and Diamond Oaks Country Club in Haltom City, both of which were purchased by members concerned that the clubs might fail.
"You could see the downward trend," Dallas businessman George Sanders told the newspaper. "I felt the club was just going to go away. I didn't do this to get wealthy."
Within a month of buying Diamond Oaks, Sanders brought on Lee Trevino as a partner. He’s spent about $1.6 million for renovations, including new bunkers and new carts, and spruced up the clubhouse to make it a popular local destination. Now, he says, the club's wedding reception business is thriving, and the club is focused on marketing itself toward younger and value-minded golfers.
Another facility cited in the story is Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington, that city's first private country club, which is undergoing its first major restoration in its 60 years of operation. The facelift includes rebuilding the golf course, including bunkers and water features, and planting new grass.
"This has been a long time in the making and to see the wheels in motion makes this a very exciting time," PGA Head Professional Vince Pellman of Rolling Hills told the paper. "The golf course upgrade will not only bring our course into the 21st century but create a more fun and player-friendly course for members and their guests."