Reading: James P. Lee, Golf in America, Montreal, Quebec: Legacy Golf, 2001: a Review

Golf Calendar, February. (1899), by Edward Penfield (1866-1925)
Golf Calendar, February. (1899), by Edward Penfield (1866-1925) | Source

...and in Canada, too

James P. Lee, Golf in America, Montreal, Quebec: Legacy Golf: an imprint of St Remy Media, Inc., 2001, ISBN 1-894827-00-7, p.p. 195

(Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO, USA.)

...

This is a Canadian reprint of a golf classic, which was first issued in 1895.

A noted feature of this edition is the Foreword by President George H. W. Bush, the letter 'W' in his name referring, of course, to 'Walker': the former President's grandfather, George Herbert Walker was the founder of the Walker Cup, and President of the United States Golf Association. In this Forward, Mr Bush stresses the genteel values which author James P. Lee enumerated in 1895, and with which the game has come to be associated: 'the patience, the etiquette, the spirit of fairness and competition, and the discipline that are required to play well and to play properly'.

The author traces the history of the game in Scotland and the emergence of many clubs in the United States in the late 19th century, some as far west as Colorado Springs, CO (1). Predictably, most of the clubs described are in the Northeastern United States, not least, in New York and New Jersey.

A particular feature of the book of special interest to Canadians is the details of various golf clubs in Quebec and Ontario, which already existed before the turn of the 20th century.The writer readily admits that golf has been longer established in Canada than in the United States because of the abiding British influence. In 1895, singnificantly, Toronto Golf Club had Canada's only 18 hole course, situated at Fernhill, on a plateau overlooking Lake Ontario (2). (What would he have made of all the golf courses today in the GTA and beyond?) He also speaks of the Queen's Royal Hotel in Niagara (3), and of courses in Kingston and London.

But interestingly, among the Canadian courses, it is those of Quebec that seem to engage the attention of James Lee. The Royal Montreal Golf Club and the Quebec Club at Cove Fields are mentioned as those which were already great rivals (4), the Montreal course, however, being the larger.

The scenic context of various Canadian courses is also stressed by the writer. The writer also predicts international contests with Canadians!

In the late 19th century golf was very much a woman's game. In the Royal Montreal Golf Club, the regular presence of about 80 regular women golfers is mentioned (5).James Lee includes a now quaint-looking photo of women golfing in long, impractical dresses (6).

Thus an interesting cameo of golfing perceptions at the end of the 19th century was made accessible by this reprint.

(For good measure, I have supplied a photo of a poster from the end of the 19th century depicting golfers.)

May 3, 2013

Notes

(1) James P. Lee, op. cit., p. 58ff. Interestingly, this Canadian reprint was issued in collaboration with a publisher based in Colorado Springs (see above).

(2) Lee, p. 91

(3) Lee, p. 92

(4) Lee, p. 93

(5) Lee, p. 192.

(6) Lee, p. 58; other photos in the book, however, seem at times uncannily contemporary.

MJFenn is an independent writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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