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SCIWAY.net: Info Source

South Carolina’s Information Highway (SCIWAY), http://www.sciway.net, a wonderful partner in all-things-SC, has featured Harleston Green – 1st Golf in America, http://HarlestonGreen.wordpress.com, as a “Site of the Day.”

SCIWAY.net has also made a link to HG.WP.com on the “SC Firsts” page:

2 responses

  1. Brian

    If this event of golf clubs shipped from Leith is historically correct and golf was played on Harleston Green why did the game cease to be played in the ‘South’?

    Can you also say who the Scottish Merchants were? Or is there a source in the USA that can be contacted. This is all a bit of a puzzle as St Andrews Golf Club in ‘Yonkers’ claims to be the first golf club in the USA and was competitive with others that followed on from Nov 14th.1888. None of the American books on golf I have mention Harleston and my collection runs to about thirty and includes ’50 years of American Golf’ by H B Martin published in 1936.


    February 8, 2012 at 10:43 am

    • rynoyak

      Great questions and ones that undoubtedly would be hotly debated were the club at Harleston Green still around today!

      Regarding your first question about the end of play on Harleston Green, this is very easily understood given the context: Harleston Green was a public area used for numerous activities of the Charleston community (horse riding, picnicking, animal grazing, etc.). With the expansion o the city, this green became housing communities, of which you can still find realty listings for near the College of Charleston. Of course the preservation of the area for posterity was not on the minds of the leisure golfers, so they would simply have found other past times or other locales or perhaps even the interest died out for a spell. It is reported that while the Harleston Green became defunct, the actual South Carolina Golf Club carried on with annual competitions and simply moved to a different, and permanent location for play. (I forget the name of this reported relocation though it is in my sources for the blog, and I will get it to you in a later comment.) It also seems that the Club died out with the move or with a change of individuals involved, a generational change. So, the history and tradition of a golf club and a golf course were not preserved, though the game certainly remained continuous from that first time.

      The NY claim seems to carry the weight of evidence and support only because it is a preserved tradition from its inception and because of that, it is able to show evidence and be popularly recognized. A SC claim can only really be made for earliest documented (see my blog sources for direct sources) golf play on American soil, which though continued on for several years eventually lost a distinct lineage to the modern day. Even if the Club were preserved, the course is lost forever to neighborhood streets of downtown.

      My hope would be for a near-accurate recreation of the Harleston Green course in a nearby location, perhaps up the Ashley River. Even if the tradition/lineage is a broken one in Charleston, it is the oldest, and it is certainly worth making more of this great heritage.

      Given that the evidence of golf in Charleston is of Leith men, the context puts it all together: Scottish merchants (David Deas, whose brother and himself settled down with other Scots in Charleston becoming prominent members in the city as well as the State since Charleston was the Capital for so long), wealthy enough to play the expensive game, from the greatest golf heritage of the time in Leith, seeing the like-conditions of rolling dunes and heather scrub on the Green, pursuing their leisure whimsy in the new land and spreading it to others of the burgeoning city and economy of mid-1700’s Charleston.

      Great questions, thanks!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm

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