A polished, adroit history of America’s first golf course, studded with yarns and deep with context, from golf-writer DiPerna and the course’s manager, Keller.
In the Greenbriar country of West Virginia, in the open spaces of woodland and tumbling hills outside White Sulphur Springs, sits Oakhurst, the first golf course laid out in the US—which happened, it has been agreed, in 1884. The course was built by four young men of substance who had migrated to lovely Greenbriar for various reasons. A cousin of theirs was set to arrive, and to entertain him properly—he was a fervid golfer, a Scot temporarily plying his game in Ceylon—they designed a nine-hole course, though “design” is a grand term, for golf courses were still rather makeshift affairs at the time: even playing at St. Andrews was a matter of picking an object down the links to aim at. The four builders and their guest became the Oakhurst Club, and remained the only five members. DiPerna and Keller do an exemplary vest-pocket job outlining the history of golf, its migration from Scotland (where it evolved, though ancient traces of it can be found in France, Belgium, Holland, and elsewhere in Great Britain and Ireland), and its passage to the Greenbriar. Additionally, the authors have a sharp eye for salient and entertaining moments in the game’s history, from the part it played in the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, to the pleasurable stories associated with Oakhurst, such as the club’s motto, “Sure and Far,” though Russell Montague, one of the original fivesome noted that “none of us were very ‘sure’ and we certainly did not drive very ‘far.’ ” Oakhurst fell into disuse but has been restored and can be played today with the equipment of old.
Fans of the sport will relish this savory slice of golf’s past, gracefully served. (51 b&w illustrations)