Golf exhibition in full swing at the Museum

Summer is in full swing at the Fairfield Museum and History Center with the opening of a new exhibition, Fairfield’s Fairways: 120 Years of Golf. Loaded with local history, the exhibit offers a historical perspective on the game, highlighting Fairfield’s golf courses, their founders and designers, the tournaments they’ve hosted, and the great players to emerge from their fairways.

The opening cocktail reception on June 11, from 6-8 p.m. also will include the presentation of The Fairfield Cup, awarded to the winning team of club champions from Brooklawn Country Club, The Country Club of Fairfield, The Patterson Club, H. Smith Richardson or Fairchild Wheeler who will play a 27-hole competition earlier in the day (9 holes at each of the private clubs).

Fairfield Cup Teams include: Brooklawn Country Club: Jim Fatsi – Head Golf Professional, Mike Hooper – Men’s Champion Runner-Up, Ellen Delucia – Women’s Champion, Peter Donnelly – Men’s Senior Champion. Country Club of Fairfield: Dave Renzulli – Head Golf Professional, Owen Foote – Men’s Champion, Erin Russell – Women’s Champion, Peter Murphy – Men’s Senior Champion. The Patterson Club: Chris Kenney – Head Golf Professional, Brad Pratt – Men’s Champion Runner-Up, Jayne Hynes – Women’s Champion Runner-Up, Roger Tarika – Senior Men’s Champion. H. Smith Richardson: Jim Alexander – Head Golf Professional, Frank Geiger – Men’s Champion Runner-Up, Jo Rasmussen – Women’s Champion, Tim Dailey – Men’s Senior Champion. Fairchild Wheeler: Stephen Roach – Head Golf Professional, Craig Amaral – Men’s Champion, Lisa Fern-Boros – Women’s Champion, Bob Feinstein – Senior Men’s Champion.

Tickets to the Opening Cocktail Reception are $65 each and are available at www.fairfieldcup.eventbrite.com. The event is sponsored by Highland Imports, Aquarion Water Company, Connecticut State Golf Association, Fairfield Magazine, Spiked Seltzer, First Tee, Bigelow Tea, Eaton Partners, Westport Bank & Trust and proceeds will benefit the Museum’s educational programming.

Fairfield’s fairways have produced star golfers: among them, internationally renowned players Gene Sarazen (pictured above) and Julius Boros, and current PGA Tour player J.J. Henry and former LPGA champion Heather Daly-Donofrio, who will be in attendance at the June 11 event—Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Gene Sarazen—Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Over the years, Fairfield’s fairways have produced numerous star golfers: among them, internationally renowned players Gene Sarazen and Julius Boros, Brooklawn’s Georgianna Bishop who won USGA Women’s Amateur title in 1904, and current PGA Tour player J.J. Henry and former LPGA champion Heather Daly-Donofrio, who will be in attendance at the June 11 event.

“Golf has deep roots in Fairfield, going back to the 1890s, when the sport was just becoming a national obsession,” explains Fairfield Museum’s Library Director, Dr. Elizabeth Rose. Country clubs provided the space for golf to flourish, while public courses later opened up the sport to others in the community to enjoy the game.

Brooklawn Country Club was founded in 1895 by a group of prominent Bridgeport manufacturers led by I. DeVer Warner and Archer and William Wheeler. The club played a leading role in the development of golf in the region and was among the first clubs in the country to join the USGA.

In 1914, avid golfer and financier Oliver Gould Jennings organized a group of influential friends to create a smaller club on Sasco Hill, known as the Country Club of Fairfield. Its goal was “to promote outdoor and indoor sports, mental and physical recreation, and social intercourse by its members, their families, associates, and guests.”

Then came The Patterson Club founded originally in 1929 as a social club in downtown Bridgeport for General Electric managers. In 1945, the company purchased Quasset Farm in northern Fairfield, where a golf course was designed under the direction of premier golf architect Robert Trent Jones.

The Depression gave rise to the area’s first public golf course, D. Fairchild Wheeler, which was created by the city of Bridgeport as part of its work relief efforts in 1932. It was the first municipal course in New England that offered a full 36 holes, divided into four 9-hole courses in order to accommodate as many as a thousand players on a weekend.

The continued demand for the sport led to the development of the South Pine Creek Par 3 course in 1969 and the town’s H. Smith Richardson Golf Course in 1971 which was named one of the top ten public golf courses in Connecticut three years later. Today, Fairfield has more public holes for golf than any town in the state.

About the Fairfield Museum and History Center

The Fairfield Museum and History Center is a community cultural arts and education center established in 2007 by the 103-year old Fairfield Historical Society. Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Museum is open seven days a week, 10 am – 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children are free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.

A view of the Country Club of Fairfield and its waterfront vista in a vintage postcard from the Museum’s collection.

A view of the Country Club of Fairfield and its waterfront vista in a vintage postcard from the Museum’s collection.

Winning the USGA Women’s Amateur title in 1904 made Brooklawn’s Georgianna Bishop the first national champion of either gender from Connecticut.

Winning the USGA Women’s Amateur title in 1904 made Brooklawn’s Georgianna Bishop the first national champion of either gender from Connecticut.

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