The story is a unique one. In 1894 two early American golf clubs, Newport and St. Andrews, attempted to conduct national amateur championships. When C.B. did not win either, although he did come close in both instances, he vociferously claimed each was not a true national championship because of inconsistent rules and were not conducted by a true national body. As a result of the furor he created, five prominent clubs came together later in the year to form a national governing body for golf in America. The organization, first known as the Amateur Golf Association of the United States, later became the United States Golf Association.
The next year, Macdonald won the very first U.S. Amateur by the whopping score of 12-and-11 in the final at Newport, to become America’s first true national champion.
Not only was old C.B. a wonderful player, he was golf’s first great character. Many stories abound, but the one that stands out concerns his beloved National Golf Links. When one of the members of the new club mentioned to Charlie that the club should build a windmill on the course similar to the ones that dotted that end of Long Island since the late 1600s to provide power for grinding grain, Charlie agreed and had one built. And when it was finished, he then sent the financier a bill for its construction! To this day, the handsome windmill stands between National’s second green and the 17th tee.
And to top off this Renaissance man’s golf career, Charlie wrote one of the very best golf books ever – “Scotland’s Gift – Golf”.
Championship golfer. Golf course architect. Organizer. Bigger-than-life character. Esteemed author.
Charles Blair Macdonald was all of these. And now he’s an honored member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.