August 25th, 2012 at 5:28 pm | | Posted by BHB Admin
This is the second in a series of three articles on the current plans and process to demolish the Jefferson Park Golf Clubhouse. See Part I here.
by Mark Holland and Mira Latoszek
The citizen golf activists: E.C. Cheasty And Sherwood Gillespy
Soon after the first Olmsted Brothers preliminary report in 1903, and for two years after presentation of the 1912 Olmsted Seattle Park Plan, golfers lobbied the city to turn the planned 9-hole design into an 18-hole configuration. Among these pioneering golf activists were Seattle Park Commissioner E.C. Cheasty, and Sherwood Gillespy (1953-1912), who brought a petition with 1000 signatures to the City Council asking for an 18-hole course at Jefferson Park. Unfortunately, Sherwood Gillespy died in 1912, and his friend E.C Cheasty followed him the next year, passing away in 1913, never to play golf at Jefferson Park or know if they would succeed in bringing an 18-hole golf course to Beacon Hill.
Fortunately, their tireless dedication did pay off in 1914 when Seattle hired a renowned golf course architect to rework the original Olmsted 9-hole design. To honor the efforts of Sherwood Gillespy, his friends commissioned a statue of him with sculptor Max Nielsen of Denmark, and placed it in front of the first golf clubhouse in 1915. A round bronze plaque commemorates him with the inscription: “Erected by the friends of Sherwood Gillespy. A kindly, lovable man, an ardent golfer. The founder of the idea of a municipal golf course in Seattle.” Ninety seven years later, the weathered bronze statue of Sherwood Gillespy still stands in front of the Jefferson Park Golf Course Clubhouse, missing only his club.
Thomas Bendelow, architect of the Jefferson Park 18-hole golf course
In 1914, after a decade long lobbying effort by golfers, Seattle hired Scottish born golf course designer Thomas Bendelow
(1868-1936). Known to work in a “naturalist” style, and often called “Olmstedian” in his approach, Thomas Bendelow was the logical choice to carry through the Olmsted vision into the 18-hole design. On May 12 of 1915, the Jefferson Park municipal golf course opened to the public. It was the first municipal golf course in Seattle. As testament to the timelessness of Bendelow’s design, the tees and fairways of the 18 remain much the same today as when the golf course first opened.
Thomas Bendelow, once disregarded as insignificant and even mediocre in golfing lore, is currently experiencing a revival. Thanks in part to the historical research and work of his grandson Stuart Bendelow, and a trending popularity in golf industry media, Tom Bendelow is now regarded as one of the most prolific golf course designers in American history. It is said more Americans learned to play golf on Bendelow-designed courses than those of any other golf course architect. As an early promoter of municipal golf courses, Tom Bendelow was at the forefront of the movement for municipal golf in the United States. In fact, he was often called the “Johnny Appleseed of Golf.”
In 1895, at the start of his career, he designed the first 18-hole municipal golf course in the America, converting a 9-hole course into an 18 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Working for the Spalding Company (1900-1920), Tom Bendelow designed golf courses all across the United States. It is estimated he designed anywhere from 488 to 1000 golf courses throughout his career. He is well known as the architect of the famous Medinah Golf Courses outside of Chicago, home of many professional golf tournaments. In 2005, Tom Bendelow was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame.
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