Jackson Park Golf Course Addtional Information & History

History was made on May 11, 1899, as the first golf course west of the Alleghenies opened to the public. The site of the nine-hole facility was on a landfill laden with bricks, pillars and other debris from the demolished structures of the old Chicago World's Fair. With the opening of Jackson Park's course, perceptions of golf for only the affluent began to slowly change. The Chicago Inter Ocean at the time wrote: 'The course at Jackson Park is a long stride forward in the popularizing of the royal game. When first imported to America, golf received no mark of popular approval; its culiarities were ridiculed more mercilessly than even tennis, when that was a novelty, Golf was called a fad of the upper ten, and all the paraphernalia of clubs and caddies and initiated jargon of 'tees' and 'halved holes' and 'stymies' are food for laughter. But the sturdy, breezy game has made way, and today the progressive policy of the South park had has put it within reach of the plain people." Newspaper accounts of the new public course were so complete, specific details of each hole's characteristics were reported. At the formal opening ceremony, three dignitaries had the honor of teeing off first at the new course. Play began on the second hole as the first hole was deemed too dificult and potentially embarrassing. This was due primarily to a 30-to-50-yard water hazard located immediately in front of the first tee. At the second hole, the trio-consisting of the president of the South Park Board, Joseph Donnersberger; South Park Board Superintendent Frank Foster; and Judge Murray Tuley were ready to commence play. While Tuley belonged to the Riverside Golf Club, Donnersberger had before that if never even seen a golf ball. First up, he sliced into the rough. Foster followed with another slice. Tuley was then next. The group's third slice was recorded, this time an extreme a spectator was nearly struck. The judge hit again, this time landing in the fairway a scant 50 yards. It was felt at the time that history would remember Donnersberger and Foster as respectively the grandfather and father of public golf in Chicago, but the reality is that their memory has long been forgotten. Others who were also instrumental in the development of the Jackson Park facility were members of the quadrangle Club from the University of Chicago. Comprised chiefly of professors and students, these advocates of the game performed yeoman services in providing golf for the masses. Members of the Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Delta Phi and Phi Delta Theta fraternities ere regular participants on the links. With so many novices flooding the public course, the joining golf shop sold clubs in rudimentary fashion. Customers buying a four-club package were advised the "massie" was for drives, the "iron" for long fairway shots, and "mashie" for approaches and finally the "putter" for greens play. Originally a nine-hole layout, Jackson Park's facility expanded in 1900 to 18 holes. The following year, a separate nine hole course was constructed. Though the combined hole facility featured clay teeing areas, sandy fairways and greens-often with more pebbles than strands of -the site always attracted huge followings. But then Jackson Park's municipal courses were the only public golfing facilities in the area until 1907. Additionally, the price was right-golf was free until 1920.

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