Two Gem's In One!

                                         John Matthew Shippen Jr.

As I was searching  for places to have my first book signing, I stumbled across a piece of American History.  I was very shocked mainly because it was so close to home and I've never heard a mention of it.  As I continued to read more about this,  another piece of history fell right into my lap.  

The Scotch Hills Country Club is a place where many memorable parties were thrown on the weekends when I was in school.  This is where I got my foot work together dancing to house music.  After reading the history of the country club I was surprised to learn that Scotch Hills Country Club was the first black owned and operated country club in America.  
In the late 1890s, the property was converted into a 9- hole golf course with the main farmhouse serving as the clubhouse.

During this time, black residents lived on both sides of the golf course and created paths through the golf course to visit family and friends.  Unfortunately that is as close as they could get to the golf course because blacks were not allowed membership at the white country clubs during that era of segregation.

Things changed on September 21, 1921 when a group of black investors by the name of Progressive Realty Company, Inc. purchased the property and changed the name to Shady Rest Golf and Country Club. This club was established to provide recreation and entertainment for all ages. Activities included golf, tennis, horseback riding, and skeet shooting. 

Many big names that halped shape black history, crossed the thresh hold of this prominent country club such as, W.E.B. DuBoise, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway; Tennis great Althea Gibson, golft pros Teddy Rhodes, Bill Siller, and Joe Louis, teed off here. 

Shady Rest was later changed to the Scotch Hills Country Club and was placed on the list of endangered historic landmarks in 2011 by Historian, Ms. Ethel Washington.

The second gem that I came across was a man by the name of John Matthew Shippen Jr., the very first American-born golf professional.  At the age of 18, John entered his first U.S. Open Golf Tournament and played in four more tournament's after that, 1899, 1900, 1902, and 1913.

John continued to work at several golf clubs along the East Coast, as a golf pro and teaching club members such as steel magnate Henry C. Frick, James Cromwell, and former New Jersey Governor J. S. Frelinghuysen, and was also a part owner of a course he designed in Laurel, Maryland. 

Mr. Shippen found his home at Shady Rest Golf and Country Club in 1931 where he would serve as the Club’s pro and greens keeper until 1964 when he retired. On May 15, 1968 at the age of 89 John passed away in a nursing home in Newark, New Jersey.  Coincidentally, he is buried in the same cemetery as my father, Milton Griffin, The Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.  

For more information, please click on the links below.

Shady Rest

PGA Archive

~Monika Griffin~
Designing Culture

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