1897 Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Rule Book

Item of the Week, from the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection

This week, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in nearby Southampton is hosting its fifth U.S. Open tournament. Founded in 1891, Shinnecock  was designed as a 12-hole course by Willie Davis. In 1892, play began on the course for the first 44 members. Two years later, the club became one of five charter members of the United States Golf Association, which established the U.S. Open tournament in 1895. That same year, the golf pro Willie Dunn expanded the course to 18 holes. In 1896, the U.S. Open came to Shinnecock Hills for the first time.

The 1897 membership handbook, pictured, contains the official club rules and bylaws, which give a sense of how the club was run when the U.S. Open first came to Shinnecock Hills. During this time, membership was limited to elected adults. Upon election, candidates paid an initiation fee of $200 and purchased at least one share of club stock for $100. As members, a couple would pay an annual fee of $40. Additional household members cost $15 per person. Members’ guests paid a mere dollar a day to play. A seasonal “subscription” cost $60. Membership was capped at 75 people by Article II of the 1897 constitution. However, the 1900 and 1909 constitutions show the membership limit was gradually increased.

Today, Shinnecock Hills takes pride in its legacy of offering women membership from the beginning. The 1897 club handbook contextualizes that history. The 1897 constitution explicitly permitted women and the bylaws provided for an appointed Ladies Committee. On the 1897 membership roster, Miss H.L. Parrish and Mrs. W.S. Hoyt appear and three women are listed “in memoriam.”

Currently, Shinnecock  is on its fourth course redesign, dating to 1931. The 1892 McKim, Mead, and White clubhouse still stands, ready to welcome this year’s U.S. Open visitors.

Andrea Meyer is a digital archivist for the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.