Saturday, March 14, 2009

George B. Kirsch's "Golf in America"

George B. Kirsch is professor of history at Manhattan College. He is the author of Baseball and Cricket: The Creation of American Team Sports, 1838-72; Baseball in Blue and Gray: the National Pastime During the Civil War; and several other books.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Golf in America, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book discusses the first golf and country clubs founded by wealthy German Jews in the early twentieth century, with special attention to the Lake Shore Country Club of the suburban north shore of Chicago. At that time Jews were beginning to move to the northern suburbs of Chicago. Those who wished to play golf and join a country club were barred from the Protestant golf clubs because of their religion, so they launched their own. I write:

The Lake Shore Club spent $750,000 on its course, clubhouse, and locker rooms. It also promoted the development of Highland Park and Glencoe as a Jewish summer colony, and it enrolled some of the richest and most powerful men in Chicago’s German Jewish community and in the city itself. For example, one of its members, Julius Rosenwald, was president of Sears, Roebuck and was reputedly the richest man in Chicago.

The dual goal of Golf in America is to present a concise narrative and social history of golf in the United States from its origins in the 1880s to the present. Page 99 is only partly representative of the book’s approach and viewpoint in that it refers to a group of German Jewish golfers who were wealthy enough to found their own country clubs when they were denied admission to those controlled by Protestants. Their experience is only a small part of the story of golf in America. The main theme of my volume is the surprising growth of golf as a popular, mainstream sport in the United States. I contrast its image as a sport for rich people with the reality of widespread enthusiasm for the game by people of both sexes from a wide range of classes, ethnic backgrounds, and races in the United States—long before the rise of Tiger Woods. In short, Golf in America chronicles and interprets the experiences of all American golfers, not just upscale members of elite country clubs, but also presidents, legendary professionals, patrons of municipal links, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, television and film celebrities, and handicapped and blind participants.
Visit the Google book search page for Golf in America, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Read "The Recession and Golf" by George B. Kirsch.

--Marshal Zeringue