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Home The Decades Victorian The United States Golf Association was formed -- in New York City.

The United States Golf Association was formed -- in New York City.

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VAV!/December 22, 2011

December 22, 1894, the foundation of the United States Golf Association (USGA) marked the formal organization of American golf. The centralized body wrote rules, conducted national championships and implemented a national system of handicapping. Today, the USGA plays a pivotal role as the game's historian for the collection, display and preservation of artifacts and memorabilia at its Museum and Archives in Far Hills, N.J.

In the beginning...

In September, 1894, William G. Lawrence won a "national amateur championship" at Newport (R.I.) Golf Club. In October, Laurence B. Stoddard won a "national amateur championship" at St. Andrew's Golf Club. Runner up in both events, C.B. Macdonald,  called for the formation of a governing body to oversee and conduct a universally recognized national championship.

The Amateur Golf Association of the United States - soon to be called the United States Golf Association - was formed on Dec. 22. Charter members were Newport Golf Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, The Country Club (Brookline, Mass.), St. Andrew's Golf Club (Yonkers, N.Y.), and Chicago Golf Club.

In the same year, America's first golf magazine, The Golfer , is published in New York, N.Y.

1895 - Charles B. Macdonald won the first official U.S. Amateur championship at Newport Golf Club and the first U.S. Open was held the next day at the same club. 

Mrs. Charles S. Brown (Lucy Barnes) wins the first U.S. Women's Amateur championship at the Meadow Brook Club in Hempstead, N.Y.

James Lee, wrote the first golf book in America 'Golf in America: A Practical Manual.'  

1898- Coburn Haskell and Bertram Work design and patent a wound-rubber golf ball, which flies farther than the gutta-percha ball.  Meanwhile, the United States Open expands to 72 holes from 36 and is held for the first time at a separate course from the Amateur.

'Birdie' enters the golf vocabulary at Atlantic City Country Club in New Jersey when Ab Smith said a fellow member hit a "bird of a shot" and suggests a double payoff for scoring one under par on a hole.

1900 -  British Vardon becomes the first sports figure in history to endorse a product, using his "Vardon Flyer" ball througout the tour.

1905 - Harry Vardon publishes The Complete Golfer , which explains, among other things, the Vardon grip.

1906 - In Great Britain, William Taylor applies for a patent on a dimple design for golf ball covers

Three-time U.S. Amateur champion Walter Travis founding American Golfer magazine and serving as its first editor in 1908. 

The USGA rules in 1909  that caddies, caddie-masters and greenkeepers past the age of 16 are professionals. The age would be raised to 18 in 1930, 21 in 1945, until the ruling was rescinded in 1963.

Arthur F. Knight obtains a patent for a seamed, tubular, steel golf shaft in 1910. Steel shafts, however, are still illegal. The R&A bans the center-shafted putter, while the USGA keeps it legal, marking the first time that the USGA diverges from an R&A equipment ruling.

During 1911,  the USGA increased yardage for determining par:

Three - up to 225 yards

Four - 225 to 425 yards

Five - 426 to 600 yards

Six - 601 yards and over

1912 - The USGA introducing a handicap limit of six on entrants for the U.S. Amateur.

1916 - The Professional Golfers' Association of America is formed in January. 

1917-  Par yardage is again changed:

Three - up to 250 yards

Four - 251 to 445 yards

Five - 446 to 600 yards

Six - more than 600 yards

1919 - The first golf book to use high-speed sequence photography - Picture Analysis of Golf Strokes , by Jim Barnes - is published.

1920 - The USGA creates the Green Section for turfgrass research.  In that same year, the USGA and R&A agree to a standard ball - 1.62 inches in diameter and 1.62 ounces.

1922 - An admission fee ($1) is charged for the first time at the U.S. Open. 

Intended for all interested countries, the first Walker Cup match between amateurs from the United States and Great Britain (the only taker) was  held at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.

Public-course golfers got their own tournament - the USGA's Amateur Public Links Championship.

Walter Hagen was  the first professional to found a golf equipment company under his name.

1924 -  Gound steel-shafted clubs permitted in the United States by the USGA as of April 11; the R&A continues to ban their use in Great Britain until 1929.

The USGA introduces sectional qualifying rounds for the U.S. Open.

1927 -  The United State Department of Agriculture said it developed "the perfect putting green grass" -- creeping bent.

1930 - The USGA mandates use of a larger and lighter ball (1.68 inches and 1.55 ounces). This so-called "balloon ball" was  unpopular, and after only one year the USGA increased the allowed weight to 1.62 ounces, keeping the size at 1.68 inches. Meanwhile, the R&A stayed with the 1.62-inch, 1.62-ounce ball.

The concave-faced wedge was banned, but Gene Sarazen perfected a design of the sand wedge, with a wide flange, which remained legal.

Bobby Jones filmed a series of instructional movies, 'How I Play Golf .'

Billy Burke won the first to win a U.S. Open using steel shafts.

1934 - Helen Hicks became one of the first women to turn professional. There are no professional tournaments, but she promoteed products for Wilson-Western Sporting Goods Company.

1937 -  The first Bing Crosby National Pro-Am is held at Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego. It moved to Pebble Beach in 1947.

1938 -  A USGA Rule limited players to fourteen clubs. Some players (e.g., Lawson Little) had been carrying as many as twenty-five. The Rule was designed to restore shot-making skill.

1941 - The USGA developed a machine for testing golf-ball velocity at impact, but plans were put on hold until after the war.

1942 - A Rule change authorized players to stop play on their own initiative if they considered themselves endangered by lightning.

1946 - The first U.S. Women's Open was held, and the only one ever waged at match play.

1947 - The USGA revised and simplified the Rules of Golf going from 61 Rules to 21. The R & A didn't go along, however.

Also, the U.S. Open was televised - but only locally in St. Louis.

The Golf World magazine began publication.

1948 -  The first U.S. Junior Amateur was played. Golf Journalmagazine - originally USGA Journal Combining Timely Turf Topics - appeared.

1949 -  The Ladies Professional Golf Association replaced the Women's Professional Golf Association.

1951 -  The USGA and R&A held a joint conference and agreed on a uniform Rules of Golf worldwide, effective the following year. The only remaining difference was the size of the ball (the R&A permits a diameter of 1.62 inches compared with the USGA's 1.68 inches). The stymie was abolished, center-shafted putters were legalized (in Britain center-shafted putters had been illegal since 1909), and the out-of-bounds penalty was made stroke and distance.

Golf Digest began publication.

1953 - The World Championship became the first nationally televised tournament.

Tommy Armour's instruction book, ' How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time' was published .

1954  - The U.S. Open televised nationally for the first time and the holes are roped for gallery control.

1956 - Yardage for guidance in computing par was increased to current levels:

Three - up to 250 yards

Four - 251 to 470 yards

Five - 471 yards and over

1957 - Ben Hogan publishes an instructional classic: 'Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf .'

1958 - A new USGA system provided just one handicap for golfers, not "current" and "basic."

The PGA Championship changed from match play to stroke play. 

The USGA and R&A organized the World Amateur Golf Council, and held the first World Amateur Team Championship.

1961 - The PGA of America dropped the Caucasians-only clause from its constitution, allowing African-Americans to become members.

According to the National Golf Foundation, at that time in history, there were 5 million golfers in the United States.

1962 - For the first time, water hazards are marked with painted lines at the U.S. Open.

1963 - Clubmakers were experimenting with the casting method for making irons, enabling them to create a larger "sweet spot" than forged blades offer.

1965 - The U.S. Amateur changed from match play to stroke play. The U.S. Open was held over four days instead of three; no more 36 holes on the final day.

1968 - Croquet-style putting, recently employed by Sam Snead, was ruled illegal by the USGA.

The Tournament Players Division was created within the PGA.

1971 - The number of golfers in the U.S. had doubled,  there were at that time, 10 million.

1972  -The Colgate-Dinah Shore Winners Circle debuted on the LPGA Tour, offering the first six-figure purse in women's golf -- $110,000.

Spalding introduced the two-piece Top-Flite ball, constructed with a solid core inside a durable synthetic cover.

Title IX legislation was passed by Congress, forcing colleges to provide more opportunities for female athletes. The expansion of women's college golf increasedthe talent pool of the LPGA Tour.

1973 - The graphite shaft was introduced.

1974 - The Tournament Players Championship made its debut.

1976 - The USGA adopted the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls, limiting them to 280 yards under standard test conditions.

1977 - The U.S. Open was the first American golf event to provide television coverage of all 18 holes.

A major championship was decided by sudden death for the first time in the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach.

1978 - The Legends of Golf debuted, an event that led to the birth of the Senior Tour (now called the Champions Tour).

1979 - TaylorMade introduced its first metal wood. In the next decade, metal woods became predominant.


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