Way Back Wednesday: Harleston Green, America’s first golf club

Way Back Wednesday

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Back before the days of putting greens and PGA tournaments, Charleston became home to the first golf club in the United States, Harleston Green.

Also known as the South Carolina Golf Club, the club was founded in 1786 by a group of Scottish merchants shortly after the first golf clubs and balls arrived in America. Back then, a golf ball was called a ‘feathery’ and was made from three pieces of bull hide stitched together and stuffed with goose or chicken feathers.

It is believed that the group of Scotsmen played their first round of golf in Charleston at Harleston Green park, a “course” located between Calhoun and Beaufain streets stretching from Rutledge Ave to the Ashley River.

This early rendition of a golf course did not resemble a course that you would find today. It had no set number of holes, no greens, and no designated tee area. There were no flags to mark where the holes were dug, so golfers sent “finders” to stand by the hole and alert others of the impending shot by yelling ‘fore!’. These “finders” became what we know as modern-day caddies.

Legend also has it that Harleston Green’s membership fees were used to maintain the grounds, now commonly known as “green fees.”

Although not much is known about the history of Harleston Green after the turn of the nineteenth century, the Country Club of Charleston claims to be the club’s successor.

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