125 Years After the First College Golf Match, a Rematch


On a fall day in 1896, a bunch of Yale college students, caught up in a brand new sports activities craze referred to as golf, traveled from their New Haven, Conn., campus by practice and stagecoach to a course north of New York Metropolis — one of many few golf equipment within the nation on the time — to tackle some chaps from Columbia.

In what grew to become the primary intercollegiate match within the nation, Yale swept Columbia, with all six golfers profitable their matches.

Earlier this month, after 125 years, Columbia lastly bought its rematch.

“That is a rare day for our sport — the collegiate sport was born 125 years in the past,” Columbia’s present coach, Wealthy Mueller, stated to the 2 groups gathered on the apply inexperienced of the Saint Andrew’s Golf Membership in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Sure, the primary faculty golf match was performed between two Ivy League groups which have hardly ever cracked the highest 100 Division I colleges in many years.

In fact, these have been totally different instances in faculty sports activities. For many years after the primary intercollegiate soccer sport was performed by Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, Ivy League soccer groups would stay athletic powerhouses making nationwide headlines.

Equally, in faculty golf, the 1896 match signaled the start of Ivy dominance. The next yr, the primary faculty nationwide championships have been held, and practically each workforce and particular person title via 1930 was received by an Ivy League college — particularly Yale, whose 21 nationwide titles are nonetheless essentially the most of any faculty.

Credit score…The New York Instances

This was lengthy earlier than huge warm-weather state colleges like Houston (16 nationwide titles) and Oklahoma (11) loved dominant eras after the N.C.A.A. took over the nationwide championships in 1939 and have become feeders for the P.G.A. Tour.

The Yale males’s golf coach, Colin Sheehan, who loves his golf historical past, just lately got here throughout two New York Instances articles from 1896 overlaying the Yale-Columbia match, which he promptly talked about to Mueller.

The coaches organized a commemorative replaying of this match that grew to become the crucible of intercollegiate golf, to get their gamers fired up about faculty golf historical past and traditions, and to make for some spirited competitors.

The unique match was performed on Nov. 6, 1896, at the Ardsley Casino, which had opened the earlier yr as one of many nation’s first 18-hole programs and whose members included distinguished financiers equivalent to Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt and J. Pierpont Morgan.

The membership, now referred to as the Ardsley Nation Membership, in close by Dobbs Ferry, was not obtainable to host the match this fall. And due to logistical issues with the unique date, the coaches scheduled the match for Oct. 22 at Saint Andrew’s, which is Columbia’s house course and has its personal place in golf historical past.

Based in 1888, the membership claims to be the oldest frequently working golf membership within the nation (although a number of golf equipment make claims to varied variations of this title) and is without doubt one of the 5 golf equipment that in 1894 based the USA Golf Affiliation.

In reality, Columbia and Yale have had many rematches through the years, with Yale profitable most, however each groups now largely play a tournament-only schedule as an alternative of head-to-head matches.

In order that they agreed to play this one as an unofficial scrimmage. Nonetheless, the significance of this momentous problem match appeared to register with the gamers as they pulled as much as the membership not in stagecoaches however in glossy passenger vans.

They filed out wearing shiny golf shirts, baseball hats and khakis or shorts — a far cry from their 1896 counterparts, who wore knickers, monogrammed blazers, tweed caps, gown shirts and bow ties.

The 1896 groups performed their finest six gamers in a holes-won format, with the victor being the workforce with essentially the most whole holes received by all gamers. The coaches determined to maintain that now-obscure format for the rematch and to play their full beginning lineups of seven gamers every.

An official on the primary tee — Mueller’s son, Kurt, 9 — introduced every twosome together with the names of the 1896 golfers who performed within the respective group.

In a single group, William Sung, 18, a Columbia freshman, was paired towards Yale’s Darren Lin, 21, a senior.

Their counterparts 125 years in the past have been Yale’s Roderick Terry Jr. and Columbia’s G.C. Pier. Terry beat his opponent 7-0 and carded an 88, the day’s lowest rating. It was additionally a formidable feat, provided that Terry and his teammates have been hitting rubberlike gutta percha balls with handmade wooden-shafted golf equipment that, as an alternative of numbers, bore names like brassie, niblick, spoon and cleek.

As for Lin and Sung, each grew up in California competing in junior golf tournaments and honing their swings with the assistance of prime educating execs, video aids and varied studying instruments. On the course, they use vary finders that give actual yardage to a goal.

“It’s cool to see how far golf has come. It’s actually surreal how essential the expertise has change into,” stated Sung, whose driver had a head fabricated from aerospace titanium.

In 1896, golf was simply starting to take root in the USA and had solely just lately “discovered its means among the many faculties,” as a preview of the match in The Instances famous.

A second Instances article, recapping the match, detailed how Yale blanked the fledgling Columbia squad 35-0. The victorious Yale gamers every acquired a “First Intercollegiate Golf Meet” medal.

Columbia’s defeat was no shock. Positioned in Manhattan, Columbia had no house course and had solely pulled a workforce collectively weeks earlier than the match. Its star participant, talked about in an 1896 Columbia Spectator article as L. Tappin, was “off his sport” and misplaced by 4 holes as his workforce was “overwhelmed by a big rating however nonetheless didn’t shame themselves.”

“They have been mainly bringing a knife to a gunfight,” Mueller stated. “You possibly can think about how quiet that stagecoach trip again was for Columbia.”

So this time, the Columbia males have been enjoying “with the load of historical past on their shoulders,” he stated.

“We bought such an enormous butt-kicking the primary time round,” he stated. “A few of my guys stated they have been by no means extra nervous than on that first tee.”

The superior Yale workforce grew out of an explosion in golf reputation in New Haven coupled with the 1895 opening of the New Haven Golf Membership close to campus.

Yale had dozens of golfers on its workforce, and the beginning six was stocked with expert gamers from distinguished golf households, together with John Reid Jr. and F.C. Havemeyer, whose fathers helped discovered the usG.A.

Reid Jr. received his match towards Columbia by 10 holes and would win the primary Yale particular person nationwide title in 1898. He was the son of John Reid, a Scottish immigrant who helped discovered Saint Andrew’s in 1888 as a three-hole monitor in a cow pasture in Yonkers.

The elder Reid’s previous golf golf equipment are displayed within the John Reid Room at Saint Andrew’s within the authentic clubhouse the place members like Andrew Carnegie and Stanford White relaxed, stated Rick Powers, a member of the membership’s historic committee.

Ivy League athletic dominance, together with golf, ultimately light as huge state faculties outdoors of the Northeast grew in stature and the Ivies prioritized lecturers over athletics.

“I joke that everybody on the workforce is right here as a result of Conrad Ray didn’t make them a proposal,” Sheehan stated of the boys’s golf coach at Stanford, the golf powerhouse the place Tiger Woods performed.

Yale remains to be a dominant pressure within the Ivies, and regardless of its unfamiliarity with Saint Andrew’s, it had its moments within the latest match. There was Ben Carpenter’s difficult up-and-down from simply off the inexperienced to win the sixteenth gap and Lin’s again 9 comeback that included a chip-in on 18 to edge out Sung, 1-0.

However ultimately, the day belonged to Columbia, whose 15-2 victory rubbed some balm on that 125-year-old spanking.

Seeing his workforce rise to the historic second, Mueller stated later, was “by far the proudest second in my 22 years of teaching.”

That night time, he stated, he texted his gamers that the Columbia chaps from 1896 could be proud.

“Even supposing they’re lifeless now,” he wrote, “I’m additionally sure that tonight they’re smiling down upon you all basking within the redemption.”



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