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Aberdonians In Outrage Over Bendelow Hall Snub

Colin Farquharson reports that Aberdonians are on the verge of congregating in the town square and calling for the ouster of a certain hair-dyed, refusing-to-retire autocrat to protest Frank Chirkinian's emergency World Golf Hall of Fame induction over the unsung master of staking 18 holes in a day, Tom Bendelow.

It helps, of course, to be American. I have never heard of Frank Chirkinian and I doubt if many people on this side of the Atlantic have either.

So where does that leave the case for Aberdeen-born Tom Bendelow, pictured above, who emigrated to the United States in 1892, aged 24, and became the most prolific designer of courses in the boom time of golf across North America.

Before he died in 1936, Tom is credited with laying out well over 600 courses across the States and Canada. The true figure may well be nearer 1,000.

It has become fashionable within the ranks of the US media to ridicule the work of Bendelow, pouring scorn on his modus operandi of being able to lay out a course in an afternoon or a day at the most with a supply of posts to mark where the tees, fairways and greens would be.

Oops, guilty!

Now if Tom had been American and perhaps with strong links to the media, it might have been different.

Don't give up, Stuart! You'll wear them down sooner or later.

Maybe we should enlist the aid of the R and A, whose chief executive, Peter Dawson, has something in common with Tom Bendelow - he also is an Aberdonian.

Good luck with that! He'll be too busy brushing up his Hall resume!

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Reader Comments (20)

If I'm not mistaken he designed the very first public course in the good ol' USofA!! And you wouldn't believe the condition they are keeping it in these days. Truly stunning compared to 10 or 15 years ago. Not sure if any of the original holes even exist anymore but there's still a course present at the site.
02.10.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
Bendelow, Sweet Chariot, comin' for to carry me home.

ASCGA's architect's gallery credits Bendelow with a lot of courses but the few really good ones they credit him with the courses themselves don't recognize as being the work of Bendelow.

Yahnundasis GC is listed on there as a Bendelow but it is a Travis to its core, Apawamis Club is a Willie Dunn, Beverly CC is Donald Ross, Blue Mound is Raynor, Ridgewood in CT was really an Emmett, Congress Lake is Willie Park then renovated by Ross, Hollywood GC is Travis, Westwood CC was Alison, La Cumbre might have had something by Bendelow at one time but the real course was obviously Geo. Thomas' work, all these courses (and more like Plainfield, Montclair, & Mahopac) might have had Bendelow there for part of an afternoon but "his" course has long ago been plowed under and replaced. The courses that bear his name and are still around tend to be nondescript courses in little towns or third tier clubs in bigger towns. He was just a guy and if he is a Hall of Famer then basically they all were.

Bendelow is credited by ASGCA with Essex County in New Jersey but ECCC's own website says this: "Missing from our discussion is the name of Tom Bendelow, a Scot who made a name for himself at the end of the century as a golf architect of sorts. His philosophy of "18 stakes on a Sunday afternoon" described his technique--stake the location of nine tees and nine greens, and let the club's greenskeeper do the rest. Just a few hours' work, for a fee of $25. His visits were so brief and inexpensive, no mention seems to exist in club annals, although the name "Tom Bedlow" does appear at times in club lore as our first golf professional."
02.10.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Fager
For the record, anyone on this side of the Atlantic whose passion for the game was fuelled by watching the glorious Masters telecasts knows very well who Frank Chirkinian is. He is as responsible as anyone for making golf a truly global game, and his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame is, if anything, long overdue.
02.10.2011 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
No offence to the gentleman in question but I've never heard of him so, Hawkeye, you will forgive me for taking your claim about him being "responsible as anyone for making golf a truly global game" with a large pinch of salt.

I don't mean this as an insult, but the fact that you've never heard of him means what regarding the work that he did and his influence on the game of golf in his time? Bendelow was a giant in the game's history and responsible for creating golf courses across the face of North America when the game was being first appreciated on this side of the pond. Still, his life's work, deserving enough as it is for a place of enshrinement in golf's hall of fame, pales in comparison to many another golf course architect who face continuing dishonor year after year by being ignored for their "lifetime acghievements" while former Prresidents and Hollywood actors gain entrance.

Why not vote Bill Murray in? He certainly helped create a popularity for the game among many who never cared about it before (or since) with his clowning at the Crosby/AT&T and other "Pro-Ams" world-wide? And didn't he even introduce the game to Tibet with his masterperformance as "Carl the Greenkeeper" in Caddyshack? Gungabalunga he should be a no-brainer!

Still, if we are to complain about the "emergency addition" of Frank Chirkinian over more serving people, once again, what about A.W. Tillinghast? There simply is NO EXCUSE that he is not in the ghall and every year that goes by without enshrining him simply renders the hall as one of Shaem rather than fame...

Can you imagine the Louvre without DaVinci, Rembrandt, Modigliani, etc...? Yet that is esactly what we have in the World Golf Hall of Shame as they consistently ignore the works done by the great golf course architects whose grand creations transform this from a simple pasttime and game to one where we are moved to honor the great players of the world. For where would Jopnes be without the Old Course and Winged Foot, Palmer without Cherry Hills, Nicklaus without Augusta and Watson without Pebble Beach?

They would have been simple players without the greatness of the courses they conquered. Those who created them deserve to be equally rememberred.
02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhil the Author
Great post Phil, but I'm sure Carnaptious was referring to Chirkinian, not Bendelow.
02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Norrie
Tom Bendelow should have his name up there with the other greats.

Is there really anything more to say apart from it being an outrage.

Let’s not forget that without guys like Tom golf would not have spread across America as it did. He is of Scottish blood but did a great service for the people of the new world ( North America) and I for one believe that requires recognition and by that I mean inclusion within the World Golf Hall of Fame.

If you agree please submit your request to have him included by e-mails them at

Thanks Peter Norrie. I was indeed referring to Mr Chirkinian although I was really having a pop at Hawkeye for his american-centric view on things 'global'.

I'm getting the distinct impression that some think Bendelow doesn't deserve recognition because of his design capabilities. I have no idea whether or not he was a good designer but isn't it rather missing the point about why he should be honoured?

Was he not a trail blazer in the sense that he quite literally spread (with his courses) the game across America and took the game to the common man? Isn't this in itself worthy of recognition? He would certainly get my vote ... even if he did hail from Aberdeen!
What is said about the Man

Tom Bendelow` (1868-1936), nicknamed `The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf`, was a prolific golf course architect during the first half of the twentieth century. Tom Bendelow was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1892

Seems he had a good nickname and if you want a list of his courses chech out the following

Tom Bendelow Golf Courses see link

Should he be honoured - Oh boy yes I think so, don'y you?

To all the posts above. You need at least 2 things to grow the game. You need courses and you need players. Bendelow was responsible for creating some courses and Chirkinian (along with others) was responsible for creating new golfers. To argue one doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because the other isn't, is a hollow argument. It is widely accepted that television and Arnold Palmer's charisma created a huge growth in the game. How was the Open doing before and after Palmer showed up to play? It was Chirkinian who showed that personality with his approach to televising golf. As for the American-centric view of all things global, I would argue there are more Americans than Europeans who know who both Chirkinian and Bendelow are. As for the emergency vote, Mr. Chirkinian (whom I worked for) is battling against a terrible form of cancer and will do well to make the May 9th date. His induction is way overdue and should not be tainted by arguments that this person or that person deserves it more.
The lead in article comments: "if Bendelow had been American with strong links to the media it would now be different." . . . I agree - if Bendelow had courted the Pony Express Riders in the 1890's he could have been an honoree.
02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterWisconsin Reader
Peter Kostis (bftd)

I would like to advise you that The Open has been doing very well since it became The Open in 1861. Palmer was not The Open.

As for linking TV to the pre TV world, what can I say apart from one point without courses you do not have players, this is not the chicken/egg debate, the marketing comes after. Just for the record when was the first televised golfing major.

Sorry for your old boss but this is about golf, the driving force of the game, the actual courses, then we have the players and TV coverage is way down the list. Simple question of priorities, I would have thought.

I've said this before, I think, but why does everyone get worked up over whose plaque is installed inside a tourist attraction like the World Golf Hall of Fame?
02.11.2011 | Unregistered Commentercmoore
Melvyn.... Sorry but the game came before courses did it not? The introduction of formally designed courses came after people decided the game was enjoyable and could be enhanced with a proper course. As well, I did not make anything a chicken and egg proposal. I said you need both courses and players. Unfortunately,we have many courses going to seed because there are no golfers to provide the resources to keep them open. Why the insistence to make something more important or less important to the good of the game? I happen to think Bendelow deserves to be in the hall, but please don't denigrate others in that pursuit. As for the Open, check the records. The growth and acceptance on a world wide basis of the Open changed dramatically post Palmer's first win.
@ Melvyn, that list does not include Van Cortlandt Park. According to city archives a 9-holer was built on the Van Cortlandt site in 1895 (not sure who the designed the 9-holer) but in 1899 Bendelow came in and remade it into an 18 hole track. I'm pretty sure he is given credit on the back of the current scorecard. Should Vannie be added to the list?
02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
The course does not have to be designed to be called a course, but you still need the land first to be able to play. As for Tom he was there before Mr. Chirkinian so I see it he is more inline to be selected, no one is being denigrated in any way.

As for The Open, I will leave you with your opinion, but my records are that The Open has always been well received here and let’s be honest it’s the home crowd that needs to be pleased. Having said that it is always good to see new faces from all over the world after all there is only one OPEN. I also recall my father enjoying pre Palmer Opens and I do not think he would consider your words friendly because you have no idea of pre Palmer Opens. I accept that Palmer may have been seen to open the door for Americans to enter The Open, but then our Open had been running for nearly a Century unaided when he first won. I believe I would call that being established and more than accepted by golfers. You may of course not agree.

I wish you a good day

Del The Funk

Alas my friend I am not up on American courses, spending more time on GB, well mainly Scottish courses and their history. I will try and find out and advise, but I just do not know.

Del The Funk

It is listed in Stuart Bendelow book on Tom Bendelow, but only the 1899 18 holes work. I will e-mail Stuart and see if he has any more info on Van Cortlandt Park circa 1894/5

C & C, I'm not American-centric, I'm Swedish. And the Masters telecasts being beamed across the various oceans of the world have been a major factor in inspiring youngsters to take up the game - Faldo, Norman, every Swedish golfer you've heard of being just a few. And just because many haven't heard of Chirkinian doesn't mean that they haven't been influenced by him, you could say that Frank Chirkinian is to televised golf what George Martin was to The Beatles.
02.11.2011 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye

The first televised major was the 1949 U.S. Open, on NBC in the U.S., seen in the east and midwest (a live hookup to the south and west wasn't possible yet). And the course it was played on? Medinah Country Club's No. 3 Course, designed by Tom Bendelow.
02.12.2011 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Bell

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