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From the Archives: Golf at Gilman

With the start of the spring athletics season, our thoughts turn to golf. Gilman did not have varsity golf until 1974. Coached by Frank “Bill” Andrews, the team had a 9-2-1 record, and was MSA co-champions with Loyola. Lettermen that season included Guy Phelan ‘75, Jimmy Vandenberg ‘74, Henry Blue ‘74, and Bill Saltysiak ‘75. 

Golf Squad 1923

While these students formed Gilman’s first varsity golf team, it was not the first time Gilman School competed in golf. More than fifty years earlier there was a Gilman golf squad. According to the 1923 Cynosure, Mr. John Ryan served as the coach for the squad, and Brice Goldsborough ‘23 was the manager. The golf squad, however, only played in 1923, and does not appear again in the following year’s Cynosure.

Gilman’s headmaster E. Bowd Morrow (1926-1943) had special interest in golf, and under his tenure Gilman School entered at least two Maryland Scholastic Golf tournaments in the late 1930s. According to The Gilman News, “in its second year of participation, the Gilman Golf team carried off the team trophy in the Maryland Scholastic Golf tournament at Hillendale last Saturday. The Blue and Gray totaled 361 strokes to nose out Forest Park by a single shot. Although golf is not an organized sport at Gilman, the team, composed of Walter Allen, Carroll Brooks, Dexter Chapin, and Herbert Wagner, obtained permission from Mr Morrow to participate again this year” (“Gilman Golf Teams Win Team Wins Tournament,” The Gilman News, May 13, 1938). Mrs. Morrow, a prominent golfer herself who won the Maryland State Golf Association Championship seven times, stated that “the boys did exceedingly well after such little practice and should be complemented, although not encouraged to allow this sport to reduce their interests in organized school athletics” (“Mrs. E. Boyd Morrow, Prominent Golfer, Has Made Hole-in-One on Elkridge Course,” The Gilman News, May 20, 1938). In the decades that followed, Gilman students would participate as individuals in the tournament. However, it wasn’t until 36 years after Mrs. Morrow’s warning that students could officially compete as a Gilman Varsity Golf team. 

Mini-Golf at Gilman in the 1930s

On a lighter note, in the spring of 1930, William S. Townsend, father of William Townsend, Jr. ‘33, donated a miniature 18-hole golf course to Gilman. The course was installed on the grounds in front of the gymnasium, and had “obstacles of all kinds, including hollow logs, tin pipes, water troughs, dog-leg holes, and many other fancy, intricate and extremely amusing features” (“Golf Course,” The Gilman News, May 29, 1930). According to a May 1931 Gilman News Letter to the Editor although the course “was put to constant use from morn ‘til night by the most lowly Fourth Former of the Lower School to the most dignified master in the Upper School,” the popularity of the sport waned by the following spring. (Letter to the Editor from “Not a Miniature Golf Enthusiast,” The Gilman News, May 20, 1931). In the spring of 1932, The News reported that Gilman’s miniature golf course, poorly maintained, had been demolished. (“The Golf Course,” The Gilman News, June 2, 1932). 

~Contributed by Archivist Johanna Schein