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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Charles F Clarkson
Charles Fredericks’s father, another Charles, was a Northumbrian in the boot and shoe trade and the family was living in Worcester when Charles jnr was born in 1878. (Strangely the 1881 census records him as being born in Coxwell in Berkshire). By the time of the 1891 census the family was living in Gowan Cottage, Terrace Road, Carnoustie and young Charles, aged 13, was employed as a shop messenger.

The four boys who survived to adulthood all went on to become golf professionals in the United States.

With his father’s trade connections through the Carnoustie Boot and Shoe Works, it seems likely Charles was the boarder with Winstone and Selina Wright in Nottingham, employed as a shoe machine operator.

He emigrated to the United States on the Furnessia arriving in New York in December 1907 with his destination being a Miss L Clarkson, presumably a relative, in Glencove on Long Island.

I have found no record of him as a golf professional between this time and a visit back to Scotland from which he returned in March 1914 with an address in South Orange, NJ as his destination. Now, although he was the eldest brother he was likely the least experienced in competitive golf having moved to Nottingham for work. We know he played in Carnoustie, an article he wrote about the town in 1936 describes being a caddie and playing at the “sinkies”, holes the caddies dug themselves, while waiting for a hire with Alec Smith. So, my thinking is that he spend the next few years being an assistant to his brothers (or an instructor on the same staff). Why head for Glen Cove if not to play golf, especially when brother Richard has recently moved to become an assistant at the Nassau Country Club? Similarly newspapers, including the Arbroath Herald mention Charles Clarkson coming from Duluth to become professional at the Quincy Country Club in Illinois in May 1916 (the club itself places him there from 1915). He is not listed as professional with any club there but again brother Dick was pro there at that time. And between the two events, an account in the St Josephs News-Press in October 1914 decribes a professional called “C W Clarkson” winning a tournament playing from the Progress club. (The Progress Country Club, which changed its name about then to Oakwood was a Jewish country club in St Louis where another brother, Fred was professional at the time.

So he was definitely pro in hos own right at Quincy around 1915. In 1917 he left but his US naturalisation was in Quincy in December 1918 (perhaps that was just bureaucracy moving slowly). The Spalding Golf Annual shows him playing in a competition with the affiliation of Engineers so perhaps he went to the newly founded Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbour, New York, for part of the 1917-18 season. But certainly by 1918 he was professional at the Midland Valley club in St Louis, Missouri.

He completely remodelled the course. The course was new when he arrived and, according to a 1923 newspaper article about him, ‘lacked sportiness’. In addition to ‘an excellently laid out course’ he improved the greens to the extent that ‘Midland golfers usually play far into the winter on its regular greens long after other clubs in the district have staked out temporaries’. But in 1923 he resigned to go back to Quincy, “I’m just going back to my old love”, he said, “I was at Quincy before I came to Midland and those four years at Quincy were among the best in my life as a professional.”

He was back in the Quincy area in 1923 and was involved in building the Spring Lake Country Club course with its sand greens and sheep used to keep the grass down. The following year he was professional at the Quincy club again where he remained until 1960. He designed the Quincy Park District public course in 1946.

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