NAME RECOGNITION, AT LAST!
I had just heard the story of an African-American woman, Katherine G. Johnson, an aeronautical engineer and mathematical genius, who finally got the recognition and high-echelon status she deserved at NASA. This recognition occurred when astronaut John Glenn, who trusted Johnson, above all others in the space program, thanked her for her calculations that contributed so much to his safe and successful space travel.
You can appreciate the irony, then, when I tell you that just an hour later, I heard of a man who is deserving of overdue recognition.
Even more, ironically, I found about this man, Herbert Strong (1880-1944), for the very first time, when finding out about another private golf club, Clearwater Country Club in Clearwater, Florida, boasting a wonderfully-challenging wonderfully-conditioned course the public can now pay to play, and that was designed by Strong.
When I checked, and found out that Herbert Strong was given no mention in The Story of American Golf, a classic book by Herbert Warren Wind, the doyen of golf writers, and no mention in Golf in America, a book celebrating the first one-hundred years, by the editors of GOLF Magazine, I was stunned, considering what I had found out about Strong’s fine work that went beyond his design of Clearwater Country Club’s golf course. Meanwhile, architects like A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross (who was joined by Strong in the design of the Knickerbocker Country Club course in Tenafly, New Jersey), were provided “ink.’
What is at least as tragic, and maybe more tragic, as it taking too long for Katherine G. Johnson to receive recognition as a superb aeronautical engineer, is the tragedy, historically, of it taking so long for Herbert Strong to get his recognition as a first class golf course architect, and to have a course named after him, just like Johnson had a building named after her. Why more tragic? To date, Strong has not been signaled out for his greatness!
I could not believe that this golf pro from England and one of the founders of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, who, after becoming a golf course architect, designed such fine courses as several in New York I’ve played – Island Hills, Metropolis, Nassau – and also Island’s End in Greenport, New York (on the Orient Point tip versus the Montauk end of Long Island), the second eighteen hole course I ever played, as well as those in Florida that I have also played and liked very much, notably Riomar in Vero Beach.
Additionally, Strong also designed many other courses, such as Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Quebec, Canada, a course I have not played, but have heard good things about from fellow golf writers, notably Canadian Lorne Rubenstein, a fine writer of magazine articles and books, like me a former winner of the American Golf Writers Championship, and a golf traditionalist and historian.
I hope I will not be forgotten when I die, considering what I have written, namely in books and magazine pieces, as my biography attests.
Thinking further about this issue, as long as my books end up on microfilm or are preserved in some way, so the pages don’t crumble, I guess I will be alright.
In the meantime, I am interested in hearing from you about others in the golf world who are deserving of recognition but have been cheated out of recognition, and to stir your memory let me say one more thing on this subject of being remembered in one’s time or in the future, and how one will be appreciated, if at all.
I am reminded of the poem, “Ode to the Grecian Urn”, in which John Keats, the Romantic poet, envies the figures decorating the urn, because although frozen in time, they will always be dancing, albeit each in their one position, yet happily, forever, however long that is.