Palm Beach Social Diary: FORE! Golf Greats @ Seminole for COVID-19 Benefit

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Ogden Phipps and Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps. Seminole Golf Club, 1970. Having held onto a low-profile for the past several decades, this exclusive private club will be the setting for the first worldwide return of televised golf featuring four world-class golfers. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.

On May 17th, the historic 90-year-old Seminole Golf Club will host a Sunday afternoon competitive charity golf event to benefit COVID-19 relief workers featuring Rory Mcllroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Matthew Wolff. “This match is a pure public service … Seminole is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to such a worthy cause during this difficult time,” said Jimmy Dunne, president of the Seminole Golf Club.

Broadcast worldwide on NBC, GOLF Channel, NBCSN, Sky Sports, and multiple digital platforms, spectators and media will not be allowed on the course. Players will practice social distancing and carry their own bags. Ranked 12th on Golf Digest’s Greatest 100 courses, the Seminole Golf Club is considered “the best bunkered course in America.”

The “TaylorMade Driving Relief” is sponsored by the UnitedHealth Group that is staking a $3 million purse to benefit each team’s charity. Farmers Insurance has kicked in an additional $1 million to assist Off Their Plate, a charitable organization helping COVID-19 healthcare workers and impacted frontline shift employees. McIlroy and Johnson will be playing for the American Nurses Foundation; Fowler and Wolff are playing for the CDC Foundation. For the customarily understated Seminole Golf Club that has shunned the limelight, the forthcoming exposure may be a run through for when it holds the prestigious Walker Cup in May 2021.

Golf course designer Donald Ross, right, with Sonny Baker, at the Wilmington Country Club, in 1935. Courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.

With a clubhouse designed by Marion Sims Wyeth and a course mapped out by the renowned Donald Ross, with more recent updates by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Seminole Golf Club’s organization was led by E. F. “Ned” Hutton. While the club’s roster was drawn predominately from the Everglades Club and the Gulf Stream Golf Club memberships, Hutton also involved Bath & Tennis Club members.

“I have taken two options for shares,” wrote Jules Bache to Otto Kahn in February 1929, inviting him to become a founder with proprietary interest in the newly formed Seminole Golf Club.  “Ned Hutton’s plan is taking shape and I know you will want to be a part of it,” Bache wrote. The following month, Kahn received a formal invitation to be one of Seminole’s first 100 founding members. “Dear Mr. Hutton,” responded Kahn, “I appreciate the fine spirit of your leadership in the creation of Seminole Golf Club.” Kahn not only sent his check for $2,500 but also sent an additional $2,500 donation for the club’s furnishings.

The Seminole Golf Club will soon regain the spotlight it once held when it did allow the public to attend its tournament play. Along with contemporaneous archival documents, Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s photographs from the late 1940s to the 1970s reveal an inside look of what today’s golf world will soon experience.

Seminole Golf Club, March 1929. First announcement. Eight months later it opened on January 1, 1930. Palm Beach Post archive.
Seminole Golf Club. Under construction, December 1929. A 35-by-25-foot ladies locker room was added the following summer. Palm Beach Post archive.
Seminole Golf Club, March 1929. First description of Donald Ross golf course. Palm Beach Post archive.
1942. The Pro-Am Tournament was discontinued between 1942-1945 when as many as 48 members were in the armed services. The tournaments in 1941, to benefit the Red Cross, and in 1942 were opened to the public.
Hunter Marston and Kay Denckla.
Florence Spaulding, Isabel Dodge Sloane, and George Garrett.
Ogden Phipps, Lillian Bostwick McKim Phipps, and Sam Snead. Head pro at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, by 1950 “Slammin” Sam Snead was the acknowledged “King of Golf.”
Seminole Pro-Am tournament, 1950-1951. Palm Beach Post archive.

Following the 1951 tournament, films were shown at The Colony Theatre on Sunrise Avenue. Palm Beach Post archive.
Mollie and Mike Phipps ready to take-off for lunch at the Seminole Golf Club. A longtime board member, Phipps became club president in 1967 following the death of Hunt Dickinson.
Seminole Golf Club, aerial view. Lou and Ellen joined Mike and Mollie for a chopper ride to the club.
Seminole Golf clubhouse, aerial view. The view from the Phipps helicopter.
Standing, left to right: Arthur A. Houghton, Ellen Glendinning Ordway, and Lou Ordway. Front, sitting, left to right: Chris “Mr. Golf” Dunphy, Jane “Pootsie” Scott, and Reginald “Reggie” Boardman Jr., known as “one of the resort’s best amateur golfers.” Houghton, Ordway, Dunphy, and Boardman were directors at the Seminole Golf Club. Heir to Corning Glass Works, Arthur Houghton founded Steuben Glass as well as served as chairman of The Met and several other NYC concerns.
Ogden Phipps and Sam Snead.
Aiken’s Robert Winthrop “Bobby” Knowles Jr. and Ellen Glendinning Ordway. A leading amateur golfer, Knowles was the great-grandson of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the son-in-law of Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, longtime “other woman” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the FDR Museum, and the subject of numerous films and books.
Alfonso Fanjul.
Tina Fanjul and Kathy Crosby.
Winston Guest.
Lillian Fanjul.
Ellen Glendinning Ordway and Bob “Lighthouse” Leidy.
Lucille “Lulu” Parsons Vanderbilt Balcom and Ron Balcom with Eleanore “Ellie” Vietor Cernadas Rutherfurd.
Seminole Golf Club, 1967. Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s daughter Bettina Frazer Dale and her husband R. Wade Dale, with their daughter Gayle, seated right, await tee off.
Genevieve “Bunnie” Livingston Estes du Pont.
Lillian Bostwick McKim Phipps and Gertrude Sanford Legendre.
Polly Reed in the swim.
Gladys “Gaggie” Quenell Reed.
Bunnie du Pont and Leslie Ordway.
T. “Tommy” Suffern Tailer and John Ordway.
Betty Iglehart, Linda Iglehart, and Ruth Draddy.
Hunter Marston. Pictured above in 1970, Marston was a founding member of the Seminole Golf Club.
Ellen Glendinning. T. Bedford “Buddy” Davie, Gertrude Sanford Legendre, and golfer Bobby Knowles Jr.
Sportsman James Cox “Jimmy” Brady (1907-1971) and George L. Coleman (1912-1997), for whom Seminole’s George L Coleman Amateur Invitational tournament was named in 1992. A 60-year member at Seminole, Coleman was named the club’s president emeritus.

Historic photographs courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection.

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