Not long ago, two honorary members of the Sunday Morning Group invited the rest of us to play a round on Yale University’s golf course, whose official name is the Course at Yale. (The U.S.G.A. lists Yale on its GHIN handicap website under “T,” for “the”—an approach to alphabetization that may not be entirely unrelated to the rules mess at this year’s U.S. Open.) Seventeen of us accepted the invitation, and the sign below greeted us when we arrived (I stole it on our way out, so that we could hang it in our locker room at home):
Yale was a collegiate golf powerhouse in the late 1800s and early 1900s — as I learned from Golf at Yale: The Players, the Teams, the Course, by John A. Godley and William W. Kelly. In 1923, the widow of a wealthy alumnus bought a 720-acre estate near the campus and gave it to the university, and Yale hired Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor to design a golf course that would put Princeton’s to shame. The property was rocky and densely wooded, and the construction ended up costing more than $400,000, making Yale’s the world’s most expensive golf course, by far, up until that time. (Augusta National, completed five years later, cost a quarter as much.) The fairways and greens were poorly maintained the first time I played it, in the early 1990s, but everything is gorgeous now. Yale is one of my favorite courses anywhere, not least because it has more interesting blind shots than modern courses ever do. Here’s my brother, John, fiddling with the hole-location indicator on the third, whose green is invisible from the fairway:
We had good weather for most of our round, but shortly after we made the turn it started to rain.
Then it started to rain more:
There was no lightning, though, and when the locals had all run for cover we had the place to ourselves. Here’s what the fifteenth green looked like when we got to it:
And here’s Barney lining up a putt on the sixteenth:
After our round, we were treated to lunch by Mark, our host, who used to be a member of our club but switched to Yale after his wife got a job nearby:
I drove home with the seat heater on high, to dry out my pants. I had to run the defroster, too, because of the steam. Fun day.