Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

ALBION’S FIRST GOLF COURSE

Morning Star, November 22, 2015, pg. 4

A happy Thanksgiving to all my readers of this column. I’ve never written about the popular sport of golf in this column before, and so this week I thought I’d take a swing at it. Albion’s first organized endeavor at golf was a course conceived in the summer of 1898 by a group of four or five interested persons. The group included prominent local physician and surgeon, Dr. Edward L. Parmeter (1855-1931), and built a six-hole course on a land subdivision owned by the Doctor "across from the East Ward School," according to an 1899 article. Dr. Parmeter was also an early president of the Union Steel Screen Company and served on its board of directors.

Following that description, this would be the area north of E. Michigan Avenue, west of N. Clark St. and most particularly in the Lombard and Sydenham Sts. vicinity today. The course probably went northwards to at least Barnes St. and possibly to the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks. You’ll notice that houses in this neighborhood are not the old 19th century Victorian ones found elsewhere in our city, as this area was developed later, thus allowing for sufficient acreage for a golf course in 1898.

By the spring of 1899, the group gained a half dozen more members, and local interest in the sport burgeoned during the summer months. Course designer and golfer W. H. Way, the first professional at the Detroit Country Club, came to town the week of October 15, 1899 to expand the links into a 9-hole course which would be prepared for use the following spring.

That same month, our local golf enthusiasts decided to officially organize their endeavor into the Albion The Albion Recorder stated in its October 19, 1899 issue, pg. 1: "The Albion Golf Club is now one of the social institutions of this city, its principal object being to further the interests of the game in this locality. One of the most pleasant features will be the weekly golf teas to be instituted in the early summer, which will be conducted by the lady members of the club." Notice the article stated "golf teas" served by the ladies, rather than "golf tees" used by the men.

To help promote the new sport, the club held an exhibition on November 7, 1899 featuring noted golfer William V. Hoare of Dayton, Ohio. He held the U.S. championship long distance driving record of 269½ yards at the time. Golfer Hoare promoted the English golfer Willie Dunn’s brand of golf clubs here, and named local contractor George E. Dean as his sales agent. Ironically, Hoare would patent some clubs of his own design years later.

By the time 1900 rolled around, the club membership was up to 50 persons. Annual membership fees were as follows: Gentlemen 17 years of age or older, $3.00; ladies, $1.50; boys under 17, $1.50. The entrance fee for everyone was $1.00.

Harper’s Office Golf Guide of 1900 gives us these details: "Albion Golf Club, at Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan, nearly a mile from the depots of the Michigan Central and Lakeshore Railroads. Organized 1899. Entrance fee: $1.00 Annual dues: $3.00. Membership: 50. The club has an excellent nine hole course which was laid out by W. H. Way in October, 1899."

In looking at the first list of officers of the club, it is quite apparent that the majority of them were Albion industrialists from the Gale Manufacturing Company. Officers of the club were: H. R. Stoepel, president; H. K. White, Jr., vice-president; Newman Miller, Secretary; H. K White, Jr., captain; Dr. R. L. Parmeter, treasurer; and Harry Pullen, greenskeeper.

Who were these men? Herman Stoepel was treasurer of the Gale Manufacturing Company, while Henry Kirke White, Jr. was secretary of the Gale. Isaac Newman Miller was a bookkeeper at the Gale. Dr. Rolland R. Parmeter was a young Albion physician and son of Dr. Edward L. Parmeter upon whose land the course was built. Harry W. Pullen was a watchman at the Gale. Historical reference: The White family clan was from Detroit, and had purchased the Gale Manufacturing Company from the Gale family in 1887. No doubt they used their extensive Detroit business and social connections to help bring golf to Albion.

Another member of the club was Rev. William M. Jaquess, pastor of the local First Presbyterian Church from 1897 to 1904. I’m sure he was called upon to pray first, and couldn’t play on Sundays. Also a member of club was Lewis E. White [listed as Key E. White in Harper’s], auditor for the Gale Manufacturing Company.

What was playing the course like? Back then, each hole course not only had its own number, but name too! Here are the given names of each hole, and the yardage. 1) Long John, 425; 2) Bunker Hill, 133 (Note: The end of Lombard St. used to be called Bunker Hill); 3) Mulberry Bend, 365; 4) Way Down East, 332; 5) Shorty, 160; 6) Westward Ho, 305; 7) The Master Stroke, 171; 8) The Straight and Narrow Path, 169; 9) Home Sweet Home, 214." Total yardage: 3,224.

What happened to the golf course? Lombard St. was constructed during World War I and first appears in the 1917-18 Albion City Directory. The golf course would have been gone by then. It is apparent however that this golfing endeavor wet the appetite of local industrialists and professionals who wanted a larger/better location, and so they became charter members of the Duck Lake Country Club when it was formed in 1922. Appropriately, Dr. Edward Parmeter was a charter member of the Duck Lake club.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a portion of the 1901 map of Albion showing the east end by Clark St. The street with the dotted line is Michigan Avenue. The small square labeled "17" is the East Ward School. Across the street (north) was the golf course. Notice there are no Lombard or Sydenham streets in this block. Also observe that Mingo St. was the first street on the west, and Barnes St. was located on the north. This block was the location of Albion’s first golf course. How many of our readers knew that there used to be a golf course here?


The east end by Clark St. Next: ALBION STREET NUMBERING

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All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic

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