If you didn't click here accidentally, then you're probably curious as to who "us" are. How much time do you have? Because it's a pretty long story. When your course is over a century old, there are a lot of "us"es involved. There's me, Brad, the great grandson of Frank Marshall. I've been working on/managing/owning the course for 32 years now. But I've had a lot of help along the way. And then there's everyone that came before me - Frank Marshall, Bob Marshall, Ruth Marshall, Mary Marshall Kelley, Ham Kelley. And then there are those that are following me: The George Bennett Family. So, "us" isn't really just about who we are now, but also who we were, and who we'll become.
The Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links was founded by Frank Marshall as a very young man. He was a sportsman and adventurer - and Chappy was just the spot to realize and live out those passions. Long (long!) before golf was popular in the States, Frank discovered the game in Europe during an adventure in the British Isles - and it didn't take him more than a year on Chappy to figure out that he had plenty of the two things he needed to make his own links course: land and sheep. Thus began the RACL (with a wink to St Andrews). For three decades, the Marshall family (and every conceivable relative) roamed the Links, bringing their own particular (peculiar?) brand of golf to this little far east corner of the States.
Then stuff happened - war, The Great Depression - stuff like that, and the RACL faded somewhat from both the landscape and my family's consciousness. The sheep went home, and the birds seeded the sand plains with oak and pitch pine. By 1950, you could hardly tell there been 24 holes spread across North Neck.
But Bob Marshall (Frank's son) and Mary Kelley Marshall (Bob's sister), along with their spouses Ruth Marshall and Ham Kelley decided that the Links were too precious to simply let them vanish into the shade and tangle of trees and brush. So they went to work and carved out six holes to resemble (as close as possible) those of old on the most immediate original portion of the course. They called this incarnation the Island Ball Watchers Society or IBWS. For another three decades the course flourished under their stewardship - hosting 18 consecutive hotly consecutive Club Championships and equally hotly anticipated Labor Day clambakes. IBWS was a friends and family course, and everybody pitched in a little. And it worked.
But as is the case in this life, people got old, and people passed on until there were very few of the IBWS old guard remaining. And that's where I came in. For the past 30 years, I've tried to maintain and perpetuate the Links while maintaining its unique character and integrity. I've been mostly successful in this effort, particularly the long standing tradition of losing money! Oh, I've tried - in 2008, with my former partner Kim Bennett, we renovated and expanded the Links to its present nine holes. George Bennett (the current owner/neighbor/friend) partnered with us and financed the undertaking. We made a profit for one year. Not really the returned we expected for our investment of money and hard, hard work (Kim's dad Bob spent a large part of his 60s and 70s performing hard-but willing-unpaid labor to keep the course afloat). In 2012, I built the impressive and elaborate 10 x 12 clubhouse that we call home today - but still no influx of thousands of players.
But we're here. Still here. And better than ever. Still here thanks in large part to the generosity of George Bennett, his wife Mimi and their kids (in fact, their daughter Camilla designed this very website!). George fell in love with Chappy, North Neck and our golf course (which we renamed back to the original Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links) almost as soon as he stepped foot on the land some 25 years ago - living proof that love more than any money has kept the Links alive.
That's us. Then, now, and tomorrow. And you, you're "us" too. From the father and son from Boise that play only nine holes once, to our most diehard supporters - all of you make us what we are. We can do this. We can continue this funky, precious, precocious, funny, challenging nine holes another three decades and beyond. Just keep loving it. And...buy stuff...and become a member. That too. We really can't go this alone. Even if we could (and we can't!), how much fun would that be? Not much. Are you with us??!