Golf Clubs and Bag
Early golfers in Topeka encountered hazards their counterparts can't imagine today. But then, cows don't usually graze on modern courses.
Golf is an ancient sport dating from around 1100, although the modern game dates back to the mid-1400s in Scotland. The first course in the United States--all of three holes (some say six)--was in Yonkers, New York, in 1888. The game quickly caught on in this country, and golf courses became places for people to relax and make business deals.
"Golf is the Rage" proclaimed the Topeka State Journal in September 1899. The first course in the capital city opened just east of Potwin Place that year. It lasted only eight years (the land was sold for residential development), however, many golfers merely switched their memberships to the Topeka Country Club when it opened in 1905. One of these people was Armin Fassler.
Fassler was a businessman who took up the game of golf when it first arrived in town, and guided the sport along with some success. An Ohioan who came to Topeka in 1886, Fassler was a typical businessman and civic leader. His family had been involved in the manufacture of harvesting machines in Ohio, but upon his arrival in Topeka he bought an interest in the Interocean Flour Mill and managed it for 40 years, retiring in 1926.
An avid golfer, Fassler not only joined the new Topeka Country Club but also served as its first president. John Ripley sometimes caddied for Fassler at the original course. He recalled that one of a caddy's duties was to carry a cloth or wad of toilet paper to clean any golf ball that came in contact with a peculiar type of local hazard--fresh cow dung.
Ripley, later a Topeka businessman himself, also recalled a bit of graffiti on the front wall of the course's clubhouse. It read, "Armin Fassler shot a 36 on Easter Sunday." The clubhouse sat on Fourth Street across from the present day Potwin Presbyterian Church.
The clubs and golf bag Ripley carried for Fassler were given to the Kansas Historical Society by the owner's grandson, Lyal Dudley, in 1970. They are in the collections of the Society's Kansas Museum of History . The bag was made in England and bears Fassler's name. At least 10 different companies manufactured the clubs, indicating that Fassler, like today's golfers, was always in search of a good club.
Entry: Golf Clubs and Bag
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2007
Date Modified: April 2016
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.