While traveling through Texas and Louisiana these last few weeks on business, I have met some most amazing people with amazing stories to tell. One such person is Glyn Dexter who I met in New Orleans at Second Vine Wine during a Wine Tasting. Although Glyn didn’t like to talk much about himself, he was extremely animated when talking about one of the Pillars of not only the Black Golfing community, but an accomplished Greens Architect by the name of Joseph M. Bartholomew.
The enthusiastic seven year old caddie Joseph M. Bartholomew was born August 1, 1881 in New Orleans. Although he learned to play the game by watching and mimicking the swings and learning the different nuances of the game of golf from the many professional players of the Audubon Golf Course. Because of his color, Bartholomew was not allowed to play on the greens of the white private clubs. Yet there where wealthy club member who took an interest in his playing and would arrange private matches against some of the most well-known golfer of the time such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Fred McLeod.
Later while working at the Metairie Golf Club on the golf maintenance crew making and repairing golf clubs, as well as working as a greenskeeper, the Adolescent Bartholomew was noticed by the influential and wealthy club member H.T. Cottam who was highly impressed with his greens-keeping that he would eventually talked the other club members to sponsor the young African-American Bartholomew to go to school in New York and become a Golf landscape Architect. Joseph Bartholomew built many golf courses not only throughout Louisiana, but also in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Married with children, Joseph M. Bartholomew, Sr had established himself in the upper class black community as a formidable business man, investor, and philanthropist. With all of his talents and hard earned prestige, Bartholomew still could not play his favorite game on not one of the many golf courses in which he designed and built.
So on his own land, Joseph decides to build a golf course where he and his friends could play without the stigma of being black. For lack of having enough land, Joseph Bartholomew started out only with a seven-hole golf course in the New Orleans suburbs of Harahan later known as Pontchartrain Park.
Eventually Bartholomew was able to play in the PGA (The Professional Golf Association) and in 1972 Joseph Bartholomew became the first African-American inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sport Hall of Fame, and seven years later the Pontchartrain Park Golf course was renamed Joseph M. Bartholomew Golf Course.
Now listen to what Glyn has to say: