Lake Jovita Long Ago... Golf - The First Time Around
The first Lake Jovita Golf Course opened to great acclaim in the spring of 1926. A contemporary account described the 6499 yard, par 71 course as follows: "The course turns and twists in all directions, and passes through hammocks, over natural and artificial hazards, crosses lagoons and small streams, goes up hill and down and finally winds up on the top of the same hill from which the start was made, a short walk from the club house."
By another account, the course had seven water hazards and was "one of the sportiest that can be found in Florida."
The first course closed in the early 1930's, a victim of the Great Depression. The scorecard and map reproduced here have survived, as have several pictures, which adorn the walls of Lake Jovita's Clubhouse corridors.
Stymied No More
The scorecard for Lake Jovita's original course measured 6 inches across, as shown here, to allow its use as a "stymie gauge." When match play predominated, the stymie was an integral part of golf strategy.
When play reached the green, if a player found his opponent's ball in his putting line, he was "stymied" and entitled to no relief. He had to negotiate his ball around or over his opponent's ball to get to the hole. He might putt and hope for sufficient break to curve the ball into the hole or he might chip, using his niblick (the club with the highest loft at that time, equivalent to today's eight iron). There was one exception - if his opponent's ball was within six inches, the player could request that it be marked. Players could easily measure six inches with the scorecard, or "stymie gauge."
The shrewd golfer might "lay a stymie" at a strategic point in his match, to keep his opponent from winning a hole. In the 1930 British Amateur at Saint Andrews, Bobby Jones won his fourth match by laying a successful stymie on his opponent. Were it not for this stymie, Bobby Jones might never have won his Grand Slam.