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John Reid

Scot Gets Most of the Credit as ‘Father of American Golf’

Much controversy surrounds the American origins of golf. But according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Golf as an organized game in the U.S. usually is dated from the founding of the St. Andrews Golf Club at Yonkers, New York on February 22, 1888.” ■ John Reid gets most of the credit as “Father of American Golf.” He was the St. Andrews Club’s first president and most ardent promoter. The balls and clubs were brought from Scotland and the game was started on a cow pasture with three holes. The club and course have been moved several times, but from 1897 into the 1980s its location was Hastings-on-Hudson. ■ Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1840, Reid emigrated to the U.S. as a young man. When his friend Robert Lockhart, also from Dunfermline, brought back golf clubs and balls on his return from a trip to Scotland, Reid borrowed the clubs to show friends how the game was played. ■ On Nov. 14, 1888, Mr. and Mrs. Reid decided that it was time to get the club organized formally. They invited the half dozen men interested to the Reid home for dinner. Officers were elected with John Reid named president. As more equipment was imported from Scotland, club membership grew and by the spring of 1889 the club had about 12 members. ■ The custom of having a “wee drap” at the “19th hole” may also have been started by Reid, who invited friends in for a drink after a game. ■ The minutes of the first meeting of the St. Andrews Golf Club have been carefully preserved. They show that John Reid wrote the constitution and bylaws of the club. Records also show that Mrs. Reid and Miss Carrie Law played in a mixed foursome on March 30, 1889, and were probably the first women to play golf in America. Reid died in Yonkers in 1916.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546