The Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. club will celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the first collegiate golf match played in the United States—Columbia vs. Yale. Originally contested at the Ardsley Country Club (then known as the Ardsley Casino), Yale easily captured that match 35–0. “The Saint Andrews Golf Club is the perfect setting to host such an event,” says Columbia Director of Golf Rich Mueller.
The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. is hosting the 125th Anniversary of the first collegiate golf match played in the United States—Columbia and Yale men’s golf teams—on October 22.
The original match was contested on November 6, 1896 at the Ardsley Country Club (then known as the Ardsley Casino). Initially, five college teams were invited to compete in the event—Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale—showing that the game among Ivy schools was slowly taking shape. Unfortunately, Harvard and Penn found it “difficult to field teams” for the event, but Princeton did commit, and by at least one account, was quite good. However, Princeton’s team decided not to participate in the match because team members wanted to watch the football game against Harvard.
According to the New York Times’ recap of the event published on November 8, 1896, the event was exceptionally well-attended and garnered lots of local interest. Each side put forward their best six players in a holes-won format. Yale easily captured the match 35–0.
Yale men’s golf head coach Colin Sheehan undertook much of the planning for this anniversary event and compiled a number of historical records to catalogue the development of golf in New Haven and at Yale, the Yale Daily News reported.
“We’re very fortunate to sit here with the oldest and most decorated team and the most well-known college golf course,” Sheehan told the News. “It’s a joy to bring the history out and to celebrate it. I was a senior in the fall of ’96 and we would have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of intercollegiate golf in the spring of ’97 when I graduated. It’s a chance to share the early history of the program and golf in New Haven.”
Before golf was popular among undergraduates at Yale, older Yale affiliates were enjoying the sport, the News reported. In 1895, Theodore Woolsley and Justus Hotchkiss began playing golf after advice from Hotchkiss’ Scottish cabinetmaker, Robert Pryde. Woolsley and Hotchkiss introduced the game to Yale affiliates, who created a New Haven Golf Club that year and a Yale-specific group the next year in 1896.
By November of 1896, Yale would win its first match against Columbia and in the spring, Yale won the first intercollegiate championship. Sheehan hopes to celebrate this anniversary next spring, the News reported.
Columbia Director of Golf Rich Mueller praised this year’s host.
“The Saint Andrews Golf Club is the perfect setting to host such an event and we would like to thank those at the course for helping to make it a reality,” Mueller said.
At 133 years old, Saint Andrew’s Golf Club is the oldest, continuously operating golf club in America and is the home course for the Columbia University men’s golf team.
Other historical items of note: Yale was the first college in the country to have a golf team and it was organized by John Reid Jr., whose father (John Reid) was a Scottish émigré who helped co-found The Saint Andrews Golf Club with Robert Lockhart in 1888. Two of the five Yale golfers that day were the sons of the five founders of the USGA. Additionaly, the Saint Andrew’s Golf Club was a founding member (along with The Country Club, the Chicago Golf Club, the Newport Golf Club and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club) of the United States Golf Association.