Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Queens was king of golf

From the NY Post:

There's a tree that stands in front of 50-11 228th Street in Bayside, Queens, which very few people stop to look at anymore. It’s tall and spreads its shade from sidewalk to sidewalk, people stopping underneath in their cars and hustling into their homes, all in the name of haste.

“I don’t know nothing about no golf course,” one resident said recently as he came out onto his screen-enclosed porch shirtless, holding back his barking dog and refusing to give his name.

Not many know about the course that used to be here, and, as old as the tree is, it might only have the faintest memory.

That’s because Oakland Golf Club not only has disappeared physically, it has disappeared from the consciousness of a golf-crazed region. Right there in northern Queens was a cog in the early-American golfing landscape, a course that was home to the famed amateur Walter Travis, that hosted the legendary Harry Vardon on his American tour of 1900, and that was redesigned by the master Golden Age architect Seth Raynor in 1921.

Yet, in the post-WWII suburban expansion of New York City, ground was sacrificed in the name of progress. The death knell for Oakland came with the construction of the Long Island Expressway in 1952, the final nail in its coffin driven in by the Clearview Expressway in 1960.

To round off the list of great city courses gone missing, look upon another tree that currently sits in front of 230-41 28th Avenue, just north of Bayside High School. If the tree goes back about 60 years, it would have stood next to the wonderful green complex of the 16th hole at Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s Bayside Links.

MacKenzie designed Bayside just before going to help out Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts with Augusta National, and he built it as a playable track with the same spirit as his beloved municipal courses in his homeland of Scotland.


georgetheatheist said...

Just what is this fascination with golf? A bunch of idiots spending big bucks to hit a ball with a stick. Have you ever heard of anything more stuuuuupid?

Gary the Agnostic said...

What sport isn't a little stupid by that standard? I mean, in baseball a really successful hitter is someone who gets a hit 30% of the time (just kidding -- I love baseball).

Anyway, didn't part of the course become the campus of Queensborough Community College? I think that they were using the clubhouse as a school facility for a while.