The Kingdom of Golf in America
By Richard J. “Pete” Moss (history emeritus)
University of Nebraska Press (2013)
Starting in 1915, Charles Beach and a few friends launched a golf club called Olympia Fields outside Chicago. Just nine holes on flat farmland. The initiation fee was $60 and annual dues were $25.
By 1929 Olympia Fields had four 18-hole courses. It had a clubhouse with a dining room for 800, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a swimming pool, a laundry, a tailoring and valet service, a small hospital, an ice-making plant, a dance pavilion, a hotel with 80 rooms, and a dormitory for 300 employees. It had 4,000 members and 1,400 registered caddies. In 1927 dollars, it was appraised at $3.5 million. There were other private clubs like it around the country.
Olympia Fields was the embodiment of what Richard J. “Pete” Moss, emeritus Gibson Professor of History, calls “the Golden Age of American golf,” from the 1890s through 1930.
Moss’s latest book, The Kingdom of Golf in America, is a page-turner for those who share his devotion to the sport. He has a deep bag of facts, anecdotes, colorful personalities, and personal opinions, the package of which contains sound ideas for another book or two. (He previously published Golf and the American Country Club and Eden in the Pines: A History of Pinehurst Village.)
Treatments of racism, gender inequality, and the influence of the game on presidential politics rarely surface in most golf literature, but Moss doesn’t flinch in examining the dark side of the first two and the convoluted nature of the last.
The caddy system and state and regional player organizations spurred early development of some black golfers and the trickle upward of women players. Tiger Woods may be the most successful golfer, but few blacks have been successful on the PGA tour, and African-American women still are not a force in the way Asian women are. Corporate sponsorship and big television deals seriously favor the men’s game.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, in the role of Charles Beach, is creating a chain of ever-longer, harder, and more expensive courses from Scotland to California. Moss is not in favor of such things. Turn off the water, he says. Brown up the courses. Return the game to what it once was. —Bob Moorehead
Lawrence Collins ’89
Collins, who was born in France and brought up in France, England, India, and the United States, is based in Bordeaux. A guitarist, singer, and composer, he formed the Lawrence Collins Band more than 15 years ago and now plays more than 100 shows a year, mostly in France. Acoustronika is his 10th album. It blends acoustic rock, electro, reggae, jazz, and funk. Think Dave Matthews with a distinctive world-music/techno influence.
Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey through
a Country’s Descent into Darkness
Alfredo Corchado, LL.D. ’10
Penguin Press HC (2013)
“Fear is a survival skill,” Corchado said in Lorimer Chapel when he won the 2010 Lovejoy Award for his fearless coverage of the U.S.-Mexico border for the Dallas Morning News. Drug cartel death threats against Corchado cited at the Lovejoy Convocation also figure prominently in his book, which explores his complicated relationship with the country where he was born. Midnight in Mexico, praised widely in popular press reviews this summer, succeeds in part because Corchado transcends the dispassionate voice he learned as a journalist. Nowhere is this more affecting than when he drives his parents back to their hometown in Laredo to pay their respects at the grave of a sister who died there as an infant. Confrontations on the highway with cops that can’t be trusted and cartel caravans cast ominous shadows over Corchado’s errand to confront a very dark passage in his own history. —Stephen Collins ’74
Rebecca Hoogs ’97
Stephen F. Austin State University Press (2013)
This is Hoogs’s first full-length book of poetry, and it’s deceptively powerful, with everyday images interwoven with bits of history, archaeology, and all of it spun into the thread of the things we think when no one is reading our thoughts.
There are poems that call it like it was or could have been, right from the get-go. Like “Woodwinds.”
First chair, first clarinet—I had no choice but to lead a section of uglies./The blonds all played the flute, silver tips in a hollow-boned flutter at the feeder./I kept my mouth against the reed,/the lick of the wood, the bamboo buzz./And while they perfected the head tilt/trill—the purse and kiss—we plowed/through Souza’s oompas.”
This is just a piece of the poem, which follows full disclosure with a question, turns the poem into a mirror, and demands the reader look at the image full in the face.
A former student of Colby professors Peter Harris and Ira Sadoff, among others, Hoogs leads us back through places we know we’ve been but somehow missed the signposts that she adroitly arranges, playing language, hitting just the right—but delightfully unexpected—note. —Gerry Boyle ’78