Backspin Volume 3, Issue 8 - Page 34

History and hope on Joe Bart Course in New Orleans The following story was written by Darren Carroll and published on USGA. org and lgagolf.org. I’ve been fortunate when it comes to golf. I grew up learning the game at a private club on Long Island, and my career as a magazine photographer has allowed me to combine my appreciation of the game with the opportunity to capture the sport at its highest levels. Over the past 15 years, I’ve been lucky enough to document major championships on the great American courses, the storied links of the Open rota and other famed venues. So when a friend at the USGA asked me to produce a photo essay about a little municipal course I had never heard of, tucked into a neighborhood on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in a part of New Orleans I never knew existed, I must confess to thinking not much would come of it. I never expected this little out-of-the-way track would have such a fascinating story to tell. Joseph M. Bartholomew Sr. Municipal Golf Course is a mouthful – perhaps that’s why regulars simply call it Joe Bart. But more than just a person and a place, the lengthy name evokes everything from golf to course architecture to race relations to natural disasters to navigating the politics of city government. It’s a history of community building (and rebuilding), and passing on the story of a quiet, unassuming individual who helped build that community through golf. First, some background on Joseph M. Bartholomew Sr. He was born in 1881, and by age 7 was working as a caddie at Audubon Golf Club in New Orleans, where he studied and copied players’ swings so well that he eventually shot the course record (62), presumably on the one day a week that blacks were allowed to play. At Audubon, he was taken under the wing of head pro (and 1908 U.S. Open champion) Fred McLeod, promoted to equipment manager and greenkeeper, and eventually hired away by Metairie (La.) Country Club. The members there were so impressed with his course design skills that they commissioned him to build their new course – but first, they sent him East to study course architecture under Seth Raynor. He returned in 1922 and built the new Metairie course according to plans supplied by Raynor. It opened to accolades in 1925, and according to club history, Bartholomew was its first pro, from 1925-36. But there still weren’t many, if any, courses that blacks in New Orleans could play regularly. In 1956, Bartholomew, now a successful businessman with his own construction firm, changed all that by building one for them. Joe Bart regular Burnell Scales, 71, grew up in the same neighborhood as Bartholomew, caddied at Audubon as a kid, and had nowhere to play. “We had to make our own golf courses,” he recalled. “We’d go down to the levees, or dig some holes in our neighborhood. That’s where we would practice our game. Others sought out more formal conditions. Joe Hall, 75, remembered sneaking on at Metairie, where he was a caddie. One member had an interesting method of deterrence. “He had two bulldogs, and if he saw us he’d turn them loose on us. We’d have to jump into the canal to get away.” Hall is the vice president of the Friends of Joe Bartholomew, an organization d