Alfred John Ward – Golf Professional – Part II “Slender Englishman” builds Pleasant Run Golf Course

Alf J Ward appointed pro at Irvington, The Indianapolis News, 23 March 1923, p34.
Alfred Ward appointed Pro at Irvington, The Indianapolis News, 23 March 1923, p34 1

In April of 1923, a “slender Englishman” named Alf Ward walked into the office of Indianapolis mayor Lew Shank. He introduced himself as the new golf professional for city’s municipal club. The mayor sent Alfred out to Irvington with shovels, horses, and a few men. He was to build Pleasant Run, the “finest municipal golf course in the country.”2

Alfred started his career at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey where he assisted James Braid, the famous Scottish golf pro and course architect. Under Braid’s guidance, he learned how to build golf courses and maintain greens and fairways.3,4 Pleasant Run was the 20th course Alfred had built or remodeled.5

Alf Ward, newcomer to Indianapolis golf, The Indianapolis News, 9 June 1923, p14.
Indiana Professional golfers who will compete in Indiana Open Championship Tournament…Dick Nelson, Roy Robertson, Alf Ward, George Stark, Irwin Nelson, Pet Hendrie, Lee Nelson (sitting). – The Indianapolis News, 9 Jun 19236

Alf took his men and horses to the site of Pleasant Run and got right to work building a temporary 9-hole course before the new season. For the next two and a half years, he worked to build first this course followed by a brand new 18-hole course the next year. The job required hard labor, often seven days a week.7 Other golfers were surprised to find Alf on the site as early as 4 o’clock in the morning.8 The city parks department paid him a salary of $600 per year ($8429.33 in today’s dollars).9 He also earned money teaching private lessons on the course.10

Alf Ward, Pleasant Run, 7 hour days, Englishman, The Indianapolis News, 7 Aug 1923, p 20.
Alf Ward spends seven long days a week doing hard labor. He is an Englishman by the way – The Indianapolis News, 7 Aug 19237

 

Alf Ward with Johnny Simpson, Chick Evans and Paul Shaffer 23 Jun 1923 p18
“Johnny Simpson…Paul Shaffer…Alf Ward, professional, at Pleasant Run are telling Chick Evans just how glad Indianapolis is to have him here to shoot in this tournament.” – The Indianapolis News, 23 Jun 192311
Formal Opening of Pleasant Run Golf Course Built by Alf Ward, Professional
Formal Opening of Pleasant Run Golf Course Built by Alf Ward, Professional, The Indianapolis News, 12 Sep 1924 12
Alf Ward Building Pleasant Run 9 Apr 1924
Alfred Ward with club president C B Davis, The Indianapolis News, 9 Apr 192413

Mayor Shank, the city Parks Department, Charles “C. B.” Davis the club president13 and club members in general were all pleased with Alfred’s work building the course and skill at teaching golf.14 Even when the demanding physical labor led to prolonged illnesses15 that repeatedly forced Alfred out of tournament play16 the newspapers printed cheery little clips about him.17

Alf Ward
Alf Ward, little Irvington Scotchman, ruled off the course by illness. – The Indianapolis News, 7 May 192417

Alf Ward is gaining his strength and the little Irvington Scotchman is expecting to be playing his regular game in midseason. He has been ruled off the course by the medicine man, but he manages to sneak in a few holes every now and then. His new course will be ready for business in late summer.17

Alfred resigned from Pleasant Run in 1925.18, 19 He moved on to become the first golf professional at the Martinsville Country Club in Morgan County, Indiana.20 He served in this position until 1928.21  In 1930, he appears in the US Census living at 923 N Hill St in South Bend, Indiana, working at the Notre Dame golf links.22

Alf Ward Resigns as club professional Pleasant Run 3 Jun 1925
Alf Ward, recently resigned as professional at Pleasant Run, can build a good golf course, The Indianapolis News, 3 Jun 192520

If there are any golf architects searching for a superintendent of construction for some big golf course they might try to get hold of Alf Ward, who recently resigned as professional at Pleasant run. Alf can build a golf course and he can build a good one….Alf is one of the hardest workers we have ever seen, and the manner in which he changed wilderness to a golf course is standing as evidence of this fact in an attractive section of the city.20

Last year when Ancestry.com released the US Social Security Applications and Claims Index, I finally found the record that solved one of the biggest mysteries of our family history: “What happened to Alfred Ward?” None of us knew where he went after 1923. We though he died shortly after this. The index on Ancestry.com said: Alfred John Ward, white male, born 24 Jun 1887 in New York, NY, parents Thomas J Ward and Sarah.23 Aside from the birth year and place, it matched Alfred’s details. I ordered the full document from the Social Security Administration.

When the record came in the mail, I was glad I took the chance and ordered it. The signature on the form was identical to Alfred’s on two other documents. It also had information that was not in the index. He was unemployed and living at 441 S Pitcher St, Kalamazoo, Michigan. A quick city directory search told me this was the Kalamazoo County Michigan Transient Bureau. He was homeless.

The year was 1937, during a recession in the midst of the Great Depression. Many otherwise employed men were without work. Meanwhile, Alfred’s 16 year-old son James was working full-time, supporting himself and his elderly uncle. James’s mother had died the year before and he stepped up to be the breadwinner. There is a sad irony in viewing this record now, knowing the situation of all parties in the family. If Alfred had not deserted his family 14 years earlier, he would not have been homeless and without support.

Alfred John Ward SS Application 01 Dec 1937 Kalamazoo MI copy web
Alfred John Ward, Social Security Application, 1 Dec 1937, Kalamazoo, Michigan23

This record led me to other records in Michigan. Alfred Ward’s 1942 World War II Draft Card24 lists him as an Odd Jobs laborer living at a boarding house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At 5’9″ he weighed 128 pounds, had brown hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. His closest contact was Paul Moon, president of the Muskegon, Michigan Savings Bank. He was also president of the Muskegon Country Club where Alfred worked in 1940.25

Alfred Ward WWII Draft Registration Card, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Alfred Ward WWII Draft Registration Card, Grand Rapids, Michigan24

Alfred started listing his place of birth as New York instead of England in 1937, when he filled out his Social Security Application. I believe this was because he never completed the naturalization process. I found his Declaration of Intention filed in Monroe County, Indiana in 1923 but there was no subsequent Petition for Naturalization.26 His last entry into the USA was as a non-immigrant alien.27 This may have created problems for him becoming a citizen. For some reason unknown, he claimed to be a native born US Citizen although he clearly was not.

Alfred Ward died on 1 Aug 1953 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.28 He was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in Washington Park Cemetery. His obituary and funeral notices appeared in the Grand Rapids Press and Herald. It says his nickname was “Scottie” and that he had no immediate survivors.

WARD–Alfred (Scottie) Ward, aged 69, of 139 Pearl St. NW, passed away Friday morning. There are no immediate survivors. Mr. Ward reposes at the Runstrom Funeral Home, 406 Michigan St, NE. Funeral announcement later. Arrangements by Henry C Spring. – The Grand Rapids (Michigan)Press, 1 Aug 1953.29
WARD–Graveside funeral services for Alfred (Scottie) Ward, aged 69, of 139 Pearl St NW, will be conducted at the family lot in Washington park Cemetery Monday at 4pm.. – The Grand Rapids (Michigan) Herald, 2 Aug 1953.30

Reference Notes


  1. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923, p. 34, col.2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256854 : 2016.
  2. “Formal Opening of Pleasant Run Golf Course Built by Alf Ward, Professional, Will Take the Stage in Irvington Saturday Afternoon,” The Indianapolis News, 12 Sep 1924, p. 38, col. 1. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254114 : 2016.
  3. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 7 Jun 1923, p.25, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4425746 : 2016. “A new face to Indianapolis golf fans will appear in the lineup of the Indianapolis pros this year. The newcomer is Alf Ward, of the new Pleasant Run Club of Irvington. Alf is an Englishman and learned his golf under the famous Jim Braid years ago. Ward is to pair up with Cliff Wagoner, of the Pleasant Run Club, in the pro-amateur best ball event.”
  4. “A.J. Ward Signs as Pro at Pleasant Run Course,” The Indianapolis News, 24 Mar 1923, p. 12, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414535/ : 2016. “A.J. Ward, a native born Englishman who has been in this country for the last six years has been signed as pro at the Pleasant Run golf course for the coming season and will take up work immediately of expanding the East side public links to eighteen holes. Ward learned golf under James Braid, famous British player. Last year he was at Bloomington, Ind. where he planned the course of the Country Club there.”
  5. “Invitation Tourney,” The Indianapolis Star, 9 Mar 1924, p. 32, c. 3. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414522/ : 2016. “Alf has high hopes of having one of the finest of Hoosier courses within the space of but a short time, and this is the twentieth course he has built, so his words may be taken with finality.”
  6. “Indiana Professional golfers who will compete in Indiana Open Championship Tournament at Country Club Course Tuesday and Wednesday,” The Indianapolis News, 9 Jun 1923, p. 14, col. 3; Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256711/ : 2014. “Two newcomers, George Stark and Alf Ward, are likely to surprise many fans. Neither is a big man yet both hit long balls. Stark has his short game down to perfection and if he happens to get a fifty-fifty arrangement on the breaks some of the old timers may get fooled. Ward is somewhat of a dark horse.”
  7. “Golf News, Views and Comment,” The Indianapolis News, 7 Aug 1923, p. 20, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256720 : 2016) “Alf Ward, professional at the Pleasant Run golf course, got his seventh hole in one Monday afternoon on No. 1, 210 yards, at his own course. Ward said this was the first he had gotten in five years. He is remodeling the Pleasant Run course and building an additional nine holes. Irvington enthusiasts are particularly eager to have their course finished and Ward is spending a long day seven times a week and a lot of these days are at hard labor. Ward is a new comer to municipal golf in Indianapolis and has made more than a favorable impression. He is an Englishman. Ward’s hole in one Monday was to a blind green. He used a spoon and the ball bounced in.”
  8. “Foreshadows Good Golf,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Jun 1923, p. 18, col. 1. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/5738210 : 2016). “He was surprised to find his friend, Professional Alf Ward of Pleasant run, on the job when he arrived. Ward was there shortly after 4 o’clock to see that all his proteges at Pleasant run were on the job. Ward carried Paul Shideler’s stack of sticks around the first trip and then hustled back to the east end to work on his own course, which is under construction.”
  9. “Jarvis Next High on City Pay Roll: List of salaries shows where part of tax money is used,” The Indianapolis Star, 18 Jan 1925, p. 12, c. 5. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414543 : 2016).”A. J. Ward, 332 North Webster avenue, instructor Pleasant Run…600.”
  10. “All Around the Town,” The Indianapolis News, 7 Jul 1923, p.5, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/514133 : 2016).”Epilogue:—In a little brown book where Alf Ward, pro at Pleasant run, keeps his calendar for golf lessons there appear four names which read as follows: O.T. Roberts, Don Bridge, Jesse Hanft and Frank Chance. All owe Alf a little money right now.”
  11. “National Amateur Invitation Tournament at Riverside-Coffin,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Jun 1923, p. 18, col. 6. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254147 : 2016). “Johnny Simpson…Paul Shaffer…Alf Ward, professional, at Pleasant Run are telling Chick Evans just how glad Indianapolis is to have him here to shoot in this tournament.”
  12. “Formal Opening of Pleasant Run Golf Course Built by Alf Ward, Professional, Will Take the Stage in Irvington Saturday Afternoon,” The Indianapolis News, 12 Sep 1924, p. 38, col. 1. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254114 : 2016).
  13. “Pleasant Run Golf Club—Where Etiquette Prevails,” The Indianapolis News, 9 Apr 1924, p. 32, Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254151 : 2016) “Alf Ward (pointing), the club professional, and C. B. Davis, president, talking things over on the clubhouse steps.”
  14. “Through the Periscope,” The Indianapolis News, 18 Apr 1923, p. 29, c. 4. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/596677 : 2016). “Bob Jenne, one of the Irvington golfers, reports that the Pleasant run golf course is shaping up nicely—that the greens there are now in mighty good condition, due, he says, to the fact that Alf Ward, the professional at Irvington, knows much about care and growth of putting greens and fairways. That’s quite a bit of knowledge, too. Most golfers are always kicking about the unplayable condition of the greens.”
  15. “Nelson and Lally go to French Lick,” The Indianapolis News,” 31 Jul 1924, p. 21, c. 1. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/5738083 : 2016).”…while Alf Ward was forced out on account of illness after a round of 79.”
  16. “Tearing Firma,” The Indianapolis News, 21 Apr 1925, p. 29, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/596653 : 2016). [Alf Ward absent from tournament]
  17. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 7 May 1924, p. 29, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254169 :2016). “Alf Ward is gaining his strength and the little Irvington Scotchman is expecting to be playing his regular game in midseason. He has been ruled off the course by the medicine man, but he manages to sneak in a few holes every now and then. His new course will be ready for business in late summer.”
  18. “Pleasant Run Golfing Professional Resigns,” The Indianapolis News, 15 May 1925, p. 16, col. 7. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3414575/ : 2016). “The resignation of Alfred Ward, professional at the Pleasant Run golf course, was received yesterday afternoon by R. Walter Jarvis, superintendent of parks. The resignation will take effect June 1. Mr Jarvis was authorized to appoint a successor to the place vacated by Ward, but he said last night that there was no one under consideration at present.”
  19. “Tearing Firma,” The Indianapolis News, 3 Jun 1925, p. 27, col. 2. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/254162 : 2016). “If there are any golf architects searching for a superintendent of construction for some big golf course they might try to get hold of Alf Ward, who recently resigned as professional at Pleasant run. Alf can build a golf course and he can build a good one….Alf is one of the hardest workers we have ever seen, and the manner in which he changed wilderness to a golf course is standing as evidence of this fact in an attractive section of the city.”
  20. “Stark and Collins Win over Niehaus, Garringe,” The Indianapolis Star, 9 Sep 1925, p. 17, col. 3. Online Archives, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/3416657 : 2016). “…formal opening of the new Martinsville Country Club today. The course is a nine-hole layout and was designed and constructed by Will Diddel, Indianapolis. Alf Ward, formerly pro at Pleasant Run, is the club professional.”
  21. Message from the Mayor, City of Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana, 27 Dec 1999 Greater Martinsville Chamber of Commerce, Relocation Information, (http://www.ericles.com/ego/cache/shrineclub.html : accessed 2014) “Martinsville Country Club The Martinsville Country Club was built in 1925 by W.A. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy also owned the Home Lawn Mineral Springs and the club was used in conjunction with this facility. The course was originally designed as a nine (9) hole course. Bill Diddle as Indiana golf architect was the designer and builder. The first gold professional and course superintendent was Alf Ward. He served in this capacity until 1928 when Barney Daughtery, who came to this country from Scotland replaced him.”
  22. 1930 United States Census, St Joseph County, Indiana, population schedule, Alfred Ward, South Bend Ward 4, Portage Township; digital images, image 386, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/indianacensus00reel626#page/n386/mode/1up : 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, Roll 626, page 4A, “Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930,” National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  23. Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, Alfred J Ward, no 376-12-1972, Kalamazoo, Michigan; United States Social Security Administration, Suitland, Maryland.
  24. “United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” Alfred Ward (b. 24 Jun 1881) registered 27 Apr 1942, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J4S9-XM9 : 2016), Alfred Ward, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  25. R. I. Polk, Polk’s Muskegon (Muskegon County, Michigan) City Directory (Muskegon: R. I. Polk Directory Co.,1940) Alfred Ward, laborer, 937 Terrace St, p. 393, digital images,”U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry.com, http://interactive.ancestry.com/2469/7166491?pid=426111531 : 2016.
  26. Monroe County, Indiana Naturalization Records, Alfred John Ward, no. 221, Declaration of Intention, 2 Mar 1923, Bloomington, Indiana; citing original County Naturalization Records deposited at the Indiana State Archives, Indianapolis.
  27. “Vermont, St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1954,” Thomas Hancock and Alfred Warner [Ward?], Sep 1911; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9DS-49X6 : 2016); citing “Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954,” NARA microfilm publication M1464, Roll 165, vol. 157, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  28. Michigan, State Department of Health, death certificate for Alfred Ward, died 1 Aug 1953, Grand Rapids, Kent County, No. 58981, local no. 1203, ; Vital Records Section, Lansing.
  29. “Michigan Obituaries, 1820-2006,” Mr. Alfred (Scottie) Ward, obituary, died 1 Aug 1953; digital images, FamilySearch, (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVP1-C746 : 1 August 2016); citing: The Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press, 1 Aug 1953.
  30. Alfred Ward, obituary, Grand Rapids (Michigan) Herald, 2 Aug 1953.

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