Niagara Gazette

Sports

August 18, 2013

Ken Ruggiero's Golf: Winged Foot and the Red Nine

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “The intent of my visit is especially for the examination of Hyde Park’s ‘new course.’ I met with Superintendent Ward and Wendell Kay (PGA professional and sectional secretary) together with Hyde Park greenskeeper Albert Bulges. The entire twenty-seven holes were covered. I also advised them of the elimination of several superfluous hazards, typical Duffer’s Headaches.”

And so we have established a credible connection between the Red Nine, which by 1935 had been integrated into a “new course,” and the famed Tillinghast. Let’s now step back another 35 years to the turn of the 20th century and to the very origin of the Red Nine Golf Course.

Gleaning information from “Niagara Falls Country Club-100 Years-1901 to 2001”, penned by local golf historian Tom Sheeran, I learned that on April 3, 1900, Arthur Schoellkopf and a handful of the Niagara Falls upper crust at the time (Frank Dudley, Alfred Gray, Peter Porter, to name a few) toured via automobile what was then called Sugar Street (now known as Hyde Park Boulevard) and came upon properties they deemed suitable for a golf course. The game was becoming quite popular, especially among the wealthy at the time.

Out of that car ride and subsequent discussions, the original Niagara Falls Country Club was founded on this Sugar Street area property in 1901 and, by 1906, it was well-established. By 1912, the golf club was deemed “prosperous” according to news reports of the period. The yearly initiation fee for a member at that time was a measly seven dollars and fifty cents!

By the summer of 1916, the NFCC membership had outgrown the existing nine holes at Sugar Street and the Evans Estate, owned by the Lewiston Heights Company, was purchased by the club as the next site for a newly planned NFCC. That course opened for play on June 1, 1919. Alfred “Alf” Campbell was the club’s esteemed first head professional. He was thoroughly admired by the nation’s golfing society and played with the likes of Walter Hagen before taking on NFCC.When the club moved to Lewiston, the Niagara Falls mayor during that time, William Laughlin, had the forethought to see something special in the now-discarded Sugar Street layout. He saw it as a means of introducing the popular game to the general public. He called on Campbell to evaluate the conditions of the (Red) nine. Campbell stated emphatically in news accounts that the Red Nine course was “splendidly adapted” for the game.

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