America's first golf club marks a major anniversary

St. Andrew's Golf Club
Photo by Jim Krajicek Photography

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 | 10:54 a.m.

We celebrated the Presidents' Day holiday a few days ago, but today is actually George Washington’s birthday. It's also a significant day in the history of golf in the United States.

On this day in 1888, a small group of hearty golfers staged the first known exhibition of golf in America – over three holes laid out by John Reid and John Upham in a cow pasture in Yonkers, N.Y. And on Nov. 14, 1888, these golfers formally established The Saint Andrew's Golf Club, which remains the oldest continuously existing golf club in the United States.

That makes 2013 the club's 125th anniversary year, and it is going all-out to celebrate. Among the big events on its calendar are the Folds of Honor Golf Tournament (June 4) to support the families of deceased and disabled members of the military; Celebrating Women in Golf (June 5), marking the history and growth of women's golf in America; the 125th Anniversary Celebrity Golf Tournament (June 7); and the Gala 125th Anniversary Dinner Dance (June 8) at the Waldorf Astoria in midtown Manhattan.

Its age isn't the club's only claim to fame. Here is a list of some other firsts achieved there:

--the first photograph of golf in America (1888)

--the first recorded mixed foursome, played on March 30, 1889, when Upham teamed with Mrs. John Reid to defeat the team of Reid and Miss Carrie Law

--the first American ''clubhouse,'' including a rudimentary 19th hole, was the famous apple tree where Reid and his friends hung their coats while playing in the apple orchard that became the club's second course

--the first U.S. Amateur Championship, at match play, was hosted by St. Andrew's in 1894 – and won by St. Andrew's member L.B. Stoddart

--the first U.S. Open was hosted by St. Andrew's, also in 1894

--Saint Andrew's member Henry O. Tallmadge suggested and organized the Dec. 22, 1894, meeting of five golf clubs that resulted in the creation of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

--St. Andrew's published the first Yearbook (or Handbook) in America containing a club's list of members, officers, and committees, as well as its constitution and by-laws in 1895

--St. Andrew's also organized and funded the first U.S. Public Links Championship. The tournament, for players who didn't belong to a USGA club, was held at Van Cortlandt Park, the nation's first public course, in 1896

--Saint Andrew's member Charles E. Sands won the first Olympic gold medal for golf in 1900.