Monday, September 22, 2008

Golf in the Bluegrass

Kentucky golf fans had plenty of reasons to celebrate the American Ryder Cup win over Europe Sunday – not only was the event held in Louisville on the Valhalla Course, but Kentuckians Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes were on hand to contribute to the win. Golf may not be the first thing that comes to mind about Kentucky, but the state does have a long history of enjoying the sport. As immigrants from Ireland, England and Scotland made Kentucky their home, they brought their love of the Scottish game with them. Middlesboro Country Club (below) is the oldest continuously played course in the U.S. and the second oldest course in the nation. 200 year old oaks and the Cumberland Gap serve as a natural backdrop.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the FDR-created WPA (Works Progress Administration) created golf courses all over the state including McCracken County, Jefferson County, Harlan County, Pike County and Kenton County. Many of these are documented in the Goodman Paxton photograph collection (see Noble Park Golf Course dedication in McCracken Co., 1940, below).

The UK men’s varsity golf team began in 1935 and the women’s varsity team followed 40 years later in 1975, although both maintained “minor sports” teams before achieving varsity status. The golf team's home course is the University Club of Kentucky off of Leestown Rd. in Lexington. (Men's varsity golf team, 1939, below)

To see more photographs of golf in Kentucky, search “golf” in the images database of KDL.
-- JC


Alex Grigg said...

1975-1935=40 years, not 50, or did the men's varsity team actually start in 1925?

JC said...

Thank you Alex -- it was 40 years, not 50. The post has been corrected.

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