From east to west, the sport has become associated with the good life. And perhaps nowhere else is life, and golf, as good as it is in California.
In the early morning of February 22, 1888, as America prepared to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, Scotsman John Reid gathered some friends in a cow pasture across from his home in Yonkers, New York, to lay out three holes for a game of golf. Reid had previously asked his friend Robert Lockhart to purchase and ship two dozen gutta-percha balls, three wooden clubs (a driver, brassie and spoon) and three iron clubs (a cleek, sand iron and putter) from famous Scottish clubmaker Old Tom Morris. Six months later, when Reid formally organized the “St. Andrew’s Club,” golf had finally arrived in the United States.
From amateur golfer Francis Quimet’s thrilling playoff victory in the 1913 U.S. Open to Tiger Woods’ historic career Grand Slam, Americans have been at the top of the game. Legends such as Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have inspired a nation to swing — be it in a cow pasture, on the White House lawn or even in space. Fifteen of the last eighteen U.S. presidents have played to varying degrees (president Woodrow Wilson described the game as “an ineffectual attempt to put an elusive ball into an obscure hole with implements ill-adapted to the purpose”) and in 1971 Alan Shepard, the captain of Apollo 14, hit three one-armed shots with a makeshift 6-iron on the moon.
Now from east to west, the sport has become associated with the good life. And perhaps nowhere else is life, and golf, as good as it is in California. Home to one of the world’s most famous courses, Pebble Beach (namesake of Jesper Parnevik’s youngest daughter), California offers ample opportunities to play a round surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. Among the west coast’s oldest courses is San Francisco’s historic Presidio Golf Course — setting for the golf event of the season: The Summer Golf Scramble. Hosted by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, the Australian-American Chamber of Commerce and the British-American Business Council, the tournament provides a splendid opportunity to entertain employees and customers — and tee up business deals.
First established in 1895, designer John Lawson commented on the peerless setting and topography of the Presidio course: “God shaped this land to be a golf course, I simply followed nature.” History now haunts these panoramic fairways as they course their way through eucalyptus and Monterey pine. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed troops on course as he was escorted by the “Buffalo Soldiers” of the famed Ninth Calvary; in 1906, the fairways served as refuge for victims of San Francisco’s devastating earthquake and fires.
The Presidio course, now storied for its tight fairways and creatively placed bunkers, was expanded to 18 holes in 1910 and subsequently redesigned and lengthened by the British firm of Fowler and Simpson. The 6500 yard environmentally managed course, bounded by the bay and the Legion of Honor, has a notable list of visitors which includes Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Charles Schultz and Joe DiMaggio.
By Sofia Englund
PR&Communications SACC San Francisco/Silicon Valley