Classic Tales of Old Dorp: Idea catches fire, leads to new ‘Schenectady’ putter

"Classic Tales of Old Dorp" looks back at a golfer's idea for a new putter a century ago.

The Daily Gazette is reprinting excerpts of the late Larry Hart’s long-running column, “Tales of Old Dorp.” Today, with golf legend Jim Thomson and pals appearing in Capital Region Scrapbook, Hart tees off with a tale about Bill Knight, the Mohawk Golf Club member who designed the Schenectady putter. This column excerpt originally was published June 21, 1983.

The putter was a center-shafted blade devised by Bill Knight, a member of the Mohawk Golf Club soon after it moved up to its present location after 1904.

It was a rather revolutionary design, and it caught the eye of American golfer Walter Travis when he was a guest at the Schenectady course. Knight prevailed upon Travis to test it out; Travis liked it so much he used it in tournament play.

We recall a story told years ago by former city historian Bill Efner concerning the origin of the Schenectady putter. Bill said he heard it from old-time golfers who played with Knight.

Seems there was an outdoor picnic-type gathering at the new club and people were seated around a bonfire in the late evening as they swapped golf stories. Knight was using the metal shaft of an old umbrella to stoke the wood fire when its tip pierced a blackened ember.

Holding it up for all to see, Knight laughingly proclaimed he had found a new design for a putter. A few days later, he came up with the real design for his Schenectady putter.

Categories: Life and Arts

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