21. Moss The Country Club

21. Moss The Country Club - 1'1 4 I NTRODUCTION try...

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1'1 4 INTRODUCTION try ~l~bbers to mean bewildered/ vacuous/ slightly hedonistic and mam politically incorrect people . b . h 1 1 I mothly m ng t y co ored clothes The 1 h founded and nurtured the 1 b b . peop e w o c u s etween 1880 and 1930 h complex than th· were muc more IS modern stereotype suggests. One of this book/s . :u~poses is to accurately portray what the elite classes hoped to accom::~~ y mventmg the country club and . . F . m many ways by making golf their . mally/ for reasons that will b 1 game. ecome c ear as you read the book I t k f granted that the count 1 b d I a e or ry c u an golf are inextricably linked In sh t cannot comprehend one with t d . or I you ou un erstan mg the other. I ( i I r i ! THE C/OUNTRY CLUB IDEA AND AMERICAN EXPERIENCE C OUNTRY CLUBS start in the living rooms 1 dining rooms 1 and city club meeting rooms .of men and women who wish to establish a private social and athletic domain. They draw a line between public and private space and install a collective (the membership) as the lords and ladies of that private domain. Such was clearly the case with the founding of the Country Club, in Brookline/ Massachusetts/ perhaps the -- -~ ~-~-~---~-~·-----·----4- first and certainly thenwst imp~;-tant such club in the United States. In early April 1882 James Murray Forbes held a dinner party at his Commonwealth Avenue home. After dinner Forbes, a railroad tycoon, introduced the idea of forming a club in the suburbs of Boston. The gentlemen present that evening agreed to sign a circular explaining the aims of the proposed clubi the circular invited Boston's elite to join in the enterprise. Over the next fifty years and beyond this process or one much like it occurred again and again 1 until most American towns had at least one such club. Solid numbers are hard
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i I ,v· 6 GOLF AND THE AMERICAN COUNTRY CLUB to find, but by 19 30 there were at least four thousand country clubs in the United States. 1 To understand why Forbes held his dinner party and why the idea spawned there prospered, we need to understand certain aspects of Ameri- can life in the 1880s and 1890s. The country club idea drew considerable strength from the long and mostly glorious history- of the voluntary asso- ciation in the United States: Well before the Civil War Alexis de Tocqueville noticed the passion with which Americans formed associations. He was particularly interested in political associations; he was also impressed by the fact that Americans of "all stations of life" formed associations "of a thousand different types." He noted that unlike aristocratic soCieties, a democratic nation needs voluntary associations to overcome the helplessness that de- mocracy and individualism forced on its citizens. Certainly forming coun- try clubs does not have the same moral gravity as forging abolition societies to end slavery, but Tocqueville stressed that once the habit to associate had become general, Americans bonded together to achieve purposes both great arid sma!J.2 Voluntary associations have indeed been central in American life. Church
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Fall '10 term at University of Michigan.

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21. Moss The Country Club - 1'1 4 I NTRODUCTION try...

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