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History of Golf


Golf is generally a sport associated with the urban areas of the United State and, with its rural background, North Dakota hardly seems to be place with much in the way of a recorded history of golf. In the 1920's Bobby Jones, who was winning tournaments as an amateur, excited the world of sports and golf courses sprang up all over, including North Dakota. Most of the golf courses found in the state today have their beginnings in the mid 1920's but the first golf links go back much earlier.

It appears that Jamestown had the first permanent golf links as early as August of 1898 but the history of golf in North Dakota could go back earlier than that according to the Carrington Independent in May of 1899. Richard Sykes, founder of a number of towns in North Dakota may have established a links course as early at the mid 1880's at Carrington or Jamestown. Sykes was born in England and was very involved with the sports of rugby and golf.

In 1898 the Wahkiakan Golf Club began at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks among the students and a course was established but the game quickly spread to include some of the more prominent people in town. A golf club was organized in July of 1899 and it was on this date in 1900 that construction began on the first golf clubhouse in the state. The cost of the clubhouse was estimated at over $500.00. It was located adjacent to the links on University Avenue near the Convent along 17th Street and consisted of a three-roomed structure containing a main room and two separate dressings rooms for the ladies and the men. At the same time, a golf professional, Professor Watson, of St. Paul, was brought to Grand Forks to teach the scientific theory of golf to the members. The Grand Forks club soon hosted a tournament which included teams from Winnipeg, St. Paul, Fargo and Jamestown. Other golf courses at Bismarck and Dickinson soon sprang up but it was the 1920's that saw the major increase in golf across the state.

North Dakota’s love of the game of golf has a long history and recently, nationally ranked golf courses have made an appearance in the state bringing in the tourist dollars which may be excellent news for lovers of the game. With a state comprised of 70,702 square miles, there’s room for a lot of golf courses.

By Jim Davis

Grand Forks Daily Herald May 22, 1900

The Bismarck Tribune June 29, 1898

Grand Forks Daily Herald June 26, 1900