L.S. Jacobs – BC’s First Golf Professional

L.S. Jacobs Standing second from the right

L.S. Jacobs  “British Columbia’s First Golf Professional”

While researching the Ayton family for the Point Grey Centennial project, I found the above photo taken at the 1908 US Open.  Standing second from the right is “L.S. Jacobs”. Immediately I wondered, “Could this be the first image we have seen for BC’s first professional L.S. Jacobs?” Usually I commence these stories by describing the person’s family roots, their connection to golf, and their journey through life. This article does not follow this format. I allow the research through various newspaper databases to determine the chronological order for the story. The ending  has an interesting twist and reveals a bit of golf trivia.  I saved the best for last.

According to the Victoria GC minute books, L.S. Jacobs arrived at the club in October 1902 seeking employment as the club’s professional. Although the club had not advertised for a teacher/clubmaker, the Directors hired him on a two month trial basis. “He would be guaranteed $80 for the two months; he would charge not more than $1 an hour for lessons; the first $80 for his lessons would be refunded to the club; he would make himself available for lessons from 9:00 AM – 12:00 noon and from 1:00 -5:00 PM in the afternoons; and when not giving lessons he would care for the course; he would work on Sundays; he could live in one of the rooms in the clubhouse; and he would repair the members clubs.” Wow! He certainly wanted the job to agree to such terms. The members were very satisfied with their new “pro” so the Board extended his contract until the conclusion of the golf season around May 1, 1903. Jacobs applied again for the golfing season September 1903 until May 1904. The club raised his salary to $25 per month and allowed him to keep all the profits from the sale of clubs and balls. All previous conditions remained in effect. When he applied for the 1904 – 1905 golf season the club rejected him. The Board instructed the Secretary to hire a “pro” from Seattle or Portland. John (Jack) Moffat(t) arrived from the Waverley CC in Portland during September 1905.

Because research to date indicates all golf professionals working in North America at this time originated from Great Britain, we have always assumed Jacobs came from the home of golf. But research never verified this fact.

After being rejected by the Victoria GC Jacobs applied to the Spokane Country Club.

On May 19, 1904 the Spokane Chronicle reported; “L.S. Jacobs of Victoria, BC has been engaged to teach at the Spokane CC the members how to play golf”. Because the Museum club collection contains a club from the early 1900’s marked L.S. Jacobs Spokane we always knew he had worked there at some time.

April 13,  1905 Spokane Chronicle

“L.S. Jacobs of Vancouver has returned to Spokane and will make his home at the Country Club”

July 1, 1905 Spokane Chronicle

A club match between Spokane and Butte golf clubs revealed the Spokane members considered  a good player in the area.  “One of the most interesting features of the day will be a match between the Butte professional Richard Leslie, from St Andrews, Scotland and L.S. Jacobs, the Spokane crack.”

Feb 6, 1907

“L.S. Jacobs,  formerly of the Country Club, arrived here Saturday and will again take up his old position with the club. For the past sixteen months he has been in New York giving lessons and playing matches against fellow professionals.”

Research indicates he spent his time in New York at the Syracuse CC.  At the  May 1907 PNGA championships at Spokane,  the  professionals from the representative clubs, competed for a $50 prize. Jacobs spent one additional season at the Country Club (1907 – 1908) before moving permanently to the Onondaga CC in Fayetteville, New York. In May 1908 he joined the Eastern Professional Golfer’s Association. It appears he served this club until 1911. During this period he competed in three US Open championships. The 1908 photograph that appeared in the Boston Globe shows some of the professionals competing in this championship. We can trace all their roots except LS Jacobs to Great Britain.

After one season at Onondaga he applied for a position at the Losantiville GC in Cincinnati, Ohio. On April 1, 1909 The Cincinnati Post enthusiastically reported; “The golf club has selected L.S. Jacobs from Fayetteville, NY to be the club’s professional for the coming season.” One week later the same newspaper reported; “Jacobs would be remaining in NY because his old club has increased his salary.”

Comments from the  Onondaga club history reveals his contribution to the members.. On July  7, 1910 the local newspaper, The Post-Standard, reported;  “Owing to the untiring efforts of L.S. Jacobs the club’s professional, the links were in suburb condition, the best in fact, since play began this spring and the majority of the players were profuse in their praises of his abilities and said that the course was in better condition than any they have ever played on.”

Research ends here for L.S. Jacobs. No newsclippings in any state or province newspapers referred to our mystery man from 1911 – 1917. Genealogy research for WW 1 revealed no L.S. Jacobs enlisted.  Similarly no border crossing or passenger lists revealed any excursions for him.

Next The Moose Jaw Times on April 15, 1918 reported;

“The greens have all been put into fine condition by the new green keeper L.S. Jacobs. Practically every green on the course has been well sanded and rolled and many favourable comments have been heard.“ The Moose Jaw club history states L.S. Jacobs served the club for the 1917 and 1918 seasons.

The Jacobs “couple” appeared in the Leader – Post newspaper dated  Sept 28th, 1921: “Mr and Mrs. LS Jacobs have rented “The Clyst” on the lake shore and will operate it next year as a high class boarding house with special regard for visiting golfers. Mr. Jacobs is the popular pro at the Fort Qu’appelle Country Club.” Perhaps Jacobs served the club from 1919 – 1922. In May, 1923 the Fort Qu’Appelle GC appointed A. Baker as their head professional for the season. Research in the Saskatchewan Open Championship records  show L.S. Jacobs played in only the  1922 championship. Where did the couple migrate to?

Research indicates Thekla Schawartz  and Lenworth had been a couple since their days in New York.  They formalized their relationship  on November 1, 1927 at Maricopa, Arizona when Thekla Schwartz officially married Lenworth Jacobs. The couple gave their address as Hollywood CA.

A newsclipping from the Regina Leader-Post titled: “Journey to Regina From California by Auto in mid-Winter” revealed where the couple resided from 1922 – 1931.  This article stated Jacobs worked at the Hillcrest CC in Hollywood from about 1924 – 1931.

“A motor trip in the dead of winter from sunny California to Saskatchewan under practically the same climatic conditions is the experience of Mr. and Mrs. L.S. Jacobs and Mr. A.N. Moore all of whom are from Hollywood California. The three people who made the trip who made the journey were formerly residents of Saskatchewan . Mr Jacobs having been pro at Fort Qu’Apple GC from 1920 – fall of 1922. Previous to that he homesteaded west of Moose Jaw. During the last decade he has been the professional at the Hillcrest CC in Los Angles. We had a most remarkable trip encountering very little snow except between Sand point and Yahk. We drove on highways that were absolutely clean not even a snow bank along the road. Through the Rockies there wasn’t a speck of snow. During the journey they stayed at eleven auto camps, many being much better than hotels. The majority of the camps had a stucco  building on the property that had hot and cold running water, electric stoves and fireplaces. In addition they camped by the roadside twelve times. The travellers expressed their desire to travel in the winter because of the indescribable  winter scenes along the route.” The final note in the article sates the Jacobs planned to remain in Saskatchewan for some time. Research shows their plans changed in 1932.

In Familysearch .org  this astonishing result surfaced. The Jacobs died in Burnaby BC. The Vancouver Sun obituary notice shows: Thekla born in Gottenburg Sweden died on Sunday February 15th, 1941. Three days later, on February 18th, 1941,  Lenworth Stanley, her husband, died. The couple resided at 2906 Ewart Street Burnaby BC. A search of the  Greater Vancouver City Directories reported the Jacobs lived at this address from 1932 until their passing. Lenworth worked as a golf professional during this period. The BC Golf Museum has no records showing Jacobs played in any local professional tournaments such as the monthly pro sweepstakes. Also we do not know which club he worked at.

The obituary revealed Lenworth was born in Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica. Mandeville is the home of the Manchester Country Club. The club’s website makes this claim. THE MANCHESTER CC, FORMED IN 1865, IS THE OLDEST GOLF CLUB IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.  The Manchester club predates the Royal Montreal GC that formed in 1873.

In summary L.(Lenworth) S. (Stanley) Jacobs probably arrived in Victoria from the Manchester CC where he served as a clubmaker and a professional.

Vancouver city directories list Lenworth & Thekla residing at Burnaby from 1932 – 1942. Profession golf professional.

Feb 15, 1942 (Sunday)

Mrs. L.S. (Thekla) died at 2906 Ewart St Burnaby.

Born in Gottenburg Sweden 1871


Sister Mrs. GT Cotter New York City

Feb 18, 1942 (Wednesday)

Lenworth Stanley Jacobs  died at 2906 Ewart St Burnaby.

Born in Jamaica 1879.

Arrived in Canada as a farmer in Manitoba (probably Alberta farmer) a and golf professional.

We are still researching our first golf professional. Presently we are attempting to find a source for the Jamaican newspapers from 1850 – 1900. We would like to know more about the history of the Manchester CC. Also was Jacobs the professional at the club before arriving in Victoria. What did his father do?

Contact us at email: office@bcgolfhouse.com

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