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Nathaniel T. Lovell

1923 team captain 

The Yale golf team won the national intercollegiate championship every year except one from 1905 to 1915 and then remained winless from 1916 to 1923. Jess Sweetser did win the individual championship in 1920, and Dexter Cummings won it in 1923. Yale’s home course had changed from The New Haven Golf Club to Race Brook Country Club in 1913, and there were some who attributed Yale’s long drought to this.

One of those was a Yale senior and the 1923 team captain, Nathaniel Lovell (Class of 1923), who wrote a letter on December 14, 1922 to J. T. Blossom, the Manager of Athletic Control, urging the construction of a new Yale golf course. “The present facilities are very inadequate,” he charged, “and they may be denied to Yale men in the very near future.” He continued, “The only club in New Haven that permits student members is the Race Brook Country Club. That this one club could not provide adequate facilities, was clearly demonstrated when we had our college tournament this fall, to help in the selection of the team in the spring. … 67 entered, but since 20 did not belong to Race Brook, a third of the candidates were eliminated.” He went on to suggest that if “there are 60 men at Yale who play well enough to try for the team, there are 400 men who would join a college course. (That is the estimated number of members needed to make a course self-supporting.)” He further pointed to the “increase in the popularity of golf” and the long waiting list for memberships at Race Brook, fifty of which were taken up by Yale students. Finally Lovell speculated that if it were not for “the efforts of Mr. Pryde,” the club secretary (and Yale coach), those student memberships would have already been eliminated. “We students cannot expect Mr. Pryde will be there forever.”

Three years after his graduation, the university course had become a reality. But, like Seth Raynor, Nathaniel Lovell was not there to enjoy it. After graduation he had returned to his home in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 1925, he was the Manchester Country Club champion and held the amateur course record of 72. In January 1926, he sustained a minor scratch on his face, which became infected. A week later, Lovell was dead of what was identified as blood poisoning. It is interesting that less than two decades later, in 1942, the antibiotic that would likely have prevented his death was used for the first time on a patient with blood poisoning. This was penicillin, and it was administered by a Yale medical intern at New Haven Hospital, Rocco Fasinella, later a member of the Yale Golf Club.

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