Hagerstown, Md., is neither famous or fancy. Not often do people travel through the little-known town, but tucked away among its awe-striking, modern and modest mansions contrasted by seemingly-endless corn fields is Fountain Head Country Club.
While the country club has lavish facilities and amenities, the golf course’s length and location have prevented it from hosting many significant events in recent history. Most courses as old as Fountain Head – built in 1924 – have undergone extensive changes and lengthening renovations to adapt to the modern golfer. Fountain Head on the other hand remains one of the few plots of classic American golf course architecture that has been left largely unchanged.
While the scorecard proudly touts that Donald Ross – a legendary designer known for quick, nasty, tiny, and undulating greens– was the architect of the course, few people know that all but one of the greens can actually be attributed to Ross. Among the 17 incredibly small greens it is not hard to notice the gargantuan size of what I like to call “The Lindsay Green.”
Nestled back in the northeast corner, the 11th hole has the largest complex, of the course someting one would think is ill-fitting for the shortest par-4 on the course. Those who would think such would be wrong.
The green is huge but menacingly fast and terrifyingly sloped. While most golfers are often only faced with a mere wedge into the green, any shot above the pin is a death-wish, and anything other than 5-feet directly below the pin is no bargain either. The Lindsay Green has taken many golfers who were licking their chops for an easy birdie attempt and sent them packing to the next tee with a bogey – or worse.
I coined the Lindsay Green as such because it is the brainchild of the men who helped build and maintain Fountain Head’s golf course since its inception. The Lindsays were the first greenskeepers at Fountain Head, and together they procured and nurtured the young golf course. Among the course’s many iconic features, the Lindsay men left their mark in many small ways –from planting three trees in spots to signify the golfer was 150 yards from the green, to extracting and moving large boulders from the ground to tweak the course to perfection. One cold winter morning, however, the Lindsay men decided to leave their mark in a big way.
Dissatisfied with the challenge provided by Ross’ original design for the 11th hole, the Lindsays tore it to shreds. Together, with shovels and dirt in tow, they rebuilt the green. At the dawn of the next season, their creation would be unveiled.
While I’m not sure many people cared about the drastic change to the 11th hole, when Vincent Thomas Lindsay passed away this past weekend, many people all across the community and country cared. Vincent Thomas Lindsay, or “Tom” as his friends knew him, was the last living member of the original greenskeepers. Lindsay’s impact and legacy stretch far and well beyond a putting green, for he was an incredible husband, father, grandfather, and friend – serving as an inspiration and role model on how to live one’s life. Coming from a poor family in South Hagerstown and standing 6’4“ tall with a big, brazen tattoo on his arm, neither Lindsay or the 11th green look like they belong at Fountain Head; yet after Lindsay groomed the course for others to enjoy, he would get to enjoy it himself as a member. Never forgetting his roots, the successful, self-made Lindsay moved back to his hometown after a time in California. With him, he brought his wry humor and sensational golf skills as well as his kindness and generosity for others – traits that make him beloved by the country club and surrounding community.
Lindsay was many things to many people, but to me he was my grandfather – my “Pappy” and best friend. At a young age he took me under his wing and taught me how to play golf. We spent numerous hours on the course where I got to see his mastery first hand. Even in his later years, every witness would marvel as he drained 60-foot putts with ease. Lindsay shared his passion for golf, building a par-3 course on his own property so he could practice and play with his whole family. He even attempted to teach his son-in-laws the game, though not even he could fix their swings. While golf was a passion of his, it always took a back seat to his greatest passion, his family and friends. Over the years he showed me and everyone around him how to be a gentleman, a good person, and how to live a happy life. Lindsay lived a magnificent and triumphant life that touched and inspired everyone he met.
As all things physical and natural do, one day that green too, will return to unrecognizable soil and be forgotten. However, what will never be forgotten is Lindsay as the man he was, the love he gave and the example he set. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I aspire to live and be like Lindsay, as each day we remember the memories, the lessons, and the love that he gave us. His legacy lives on.
– Schuyler Silverman is a native of Baltimore and is currently in his final week at the University of Alabama. An avid golfer, Silverman spent many hours at Fountain Head Country Club