Early Golfers: “The Best People” and the Poor


Charles “Chick” Evans, Jr. (1890-1979), the great amateur golfer, writing about the beginnings of golf in American in the June 1922 issue of Vanity Fair, said,

“Across the water [golf] came and our best people took it up. They had discovered it in their travels abroad. It is true that poor people played it in Britain, but it seemed very sure that they would not do so in America. … To say that you played golf, however badly, and Heaven knows most of the early golfers played very badly, was in a manner of declaring yourself a member of the best American society. The right sort of people were playing golf…”

The American woman poet, Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876-1959), a peaceful but committed activist in reform movements ranging from anti-lynching to opposition to child labor, looked at the new game from a different perspective. A stanza from a work called “Through the Needle’s Eye”  has become famous as a statement against child labor:

            The Golf Links

The links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

These lines were first printed in The New York Tribune on January 1, 1915.

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