In February 1888, a Scottish sportsman named John Reid and several of his friends took an armful of clubs, some gutta percha balls and hearts full of enthusiasm to a pasture in Yonkers for a friendly round of “Gowf”. There, in front of a gallery of bemused cows, they knocked the balls around an improvised three-hole course.
Before long, these golfing pioneers had commandeered their own "clubhouse"— an old apple tree from whose gnarled branches they hung their coats and obligatory flasks of fine scotch whiskey.
This was the birth of what was to become the oldest continuously operating golf club in the United States: The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club. Today’s members of Saint Andrew’s are a contemporary part of that “Apple Tree Gang,” one of the proudest, most unique fellowships in American golf.
The history of Saint Andrew’s is replete with “firsts” in American golf. Saint Andrew’s hosted the first U.S. Amateur and “Open” Championships. It was a founding member (along with The Country Club, the Chicago Golf Club, the Newport Golf Club and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club) of the United States Golf Association. In 1900 Saint Andrew’s member Charles E. Sands won the first Men’s Olympic Golf Championship at the Paris Games.
The Saint Andrew’s membership roll has always reflected a diversity of American sportsmen, from the likes of legendary financier Andrew Carnegie and famed architect Stanford White to baseball commissioner Ford Frick, air ace Eddie Rickenbacker and former New York State Governor Malcolm Wilson.
In 1988, Saint Andrew’s was the venue for the celebration of the first 100 years of golf in America, an event that brought together many of the greatest names in the history of the game, including Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez and Jack Nicklaus. In 1995, Saint Andrew’s hosted the “Founders Cup” matches, a competition held among the five original founding members of the USGA to honor that organization’s centennial year.
Saint Andrew’s has never lost sight of its Scottish heritage. The club continues tournament relationships with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews (Scotland), Carnoustie, Prestwick, Royal Burgess and Royal Dornoch. Saint Andrew’s members also enjoy an extensive schedule of interclub matches both with clubs in the New York metropolitan area and with other historically significant clubs across the country. Saint Andrew’s participates in the Julian Curtiss Cup matches, a series held exclusively between clubs at least 100 years old, including Baltrusrol, Baltimore Country Club and Greenwich Country Club. The annual “Four Corners” match pits a Saint Andrew’s team against teams from such other venerable clubs as Bedford Golf and Tennis Club, Greenwich Country Club and Apawamis.
A visit to Saint Andrew’s is like a walk through golf history. The turn of the century clubhouse is a veritable museum of golf memorabilia. You can have cocktails in the warm ambiance of the John Reid Room, surrounded by a priceless collection of early golf clubs and balls – some of which were actually used at Saint Andrew’s by John Reid, “the father of American golf.” There is even a branch from the original apple tree that served as the club’s first “clubhouse” in Yonkers. The Landau Library contains such historic documents as copies of the handwritten minutes of the meetings that led to the formation of the club in 1888 and to the organization of the United States Golf Association in 1895.