The Yale Golf Association

The Yale Golf Association

Alumni have been encouraged to return for golf at a Yale venue for more than 100 years. Articles in the Alumni Weekly in the 1890s pointed out the ease of traveling from New York to New Haven by train and then by trolley to the first tee at the New Haven Golf Club. Matches between golf team members and alumni were reported in that era. Coach Ben Thomson began taking the team south in the spring, soon after he arrived at the Yale Golf Course in 1926. By the 1930s he was taking the team to Scotland. Who paid for these trips is not known. But, given the background of most of the players of that time, it would not have been a problem. After the Depression and World War ii, students were more diverse and in need of financial support. A group of alumni formed the Yale Golf Association (Y.G.A.) to provide that support.

Before the 1970s, the Y.G.A. activities were simple and straightforward. On the first Saturday in May, the Yale Golf Association Annual Meeting and Lettermen’s Reunion took place after a tournament matching alumni against team members. The event served as a reunion for team alumni and a fund-raising event. In addition, an appeal letter was sent out annually to all Yale Golf Club members, soliciting donations for the team’s annual spring trip. The founders of the Y.G.A. are not known, but Widdy Neale, Burt Resnik, Alan Needleson, Arthur “Ace” Williams, and Dick Tettlebach were active members.

With the arrival of Coach David Paterson in 1975, the association became more active and focused. Board membership was expanded and there was stable leadership, with Herb Emmanuelson as president from 1963 to 1983 and Giles Payne from 1983 to 2003. David Paterson has been very successful raising funds from alumni, parents, and “Friends of Yale Golf.” He started a second revenue-raising tournament, the “Scratch Cup,” and later, a third tournament, the Yale Men’s College-Am. It is played in the fall on the Friday preceding the Macdonald Cup.

Jim Rogers, the 1968 captain, was elected president of the association, along with several new board members in 2003. A new mission statement was adopted that added preservation of the golf course itself to the association’s traditional mission. The annual meeting and championship tournament were moved to Monday, and a foursome competition was added to the usual medal play event. Under the dynamic leadership of tournament director, Ian MacAllister (Class of 2000), the inaugural “Yale Golf Association Championship and Outing” in May 2004 was a huge success. It attracted 112 golfers, and its spirited auction and raffle were a historic fund-raiser. Another event was added later that year, the Yale Women’s College-Am, which like the men’s, is now played in conjunction with the Yale Women’s Fall Invitational tournament. The highlight of the day is a pre-round clinic given by an LPGA pro. During its first three years, through the efforts of board member Jack Curren, the Sea Island Resort has been the title sponsor. This event has also been an important revenue source. Julie Hansen (Class of 1988) joined Jim Rogers as co-president in 2005. After a very successful tenure, Rogers was replaced by Ian MacAllister at the end of 2006.

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