SERVING THE GAME
Oscar Bunn Facility Brings Pride to Shinnecock Nation September 16, 2020 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Danny Vohden, USGA

The new Oscar Bunn facility is named after the Shinnecock Indian who competed in the 1896 U.S. Open. (Jason E. Miczek/USGA)

As part of its commitment to meaningfully serve and engage with its U.S. Open host communities, support accessibility in the game and recognize the contributions of the Shinnecock Nation to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the USGA joined with the Shinnecock Nation to open the Oscar Bunn Tribal Golf Facility in August 2019.

Designed for juniors and beginners alike at no cost to play, the facility was designed and funded by the USGA. It includes a 6,500-square-foot short game practice area with a putting green and a chipping green. Additionally, three 10-x-15-foot hitting bays provide golfers with space to practice full-swing shots. As part of its commitment to the facility, the USGA will administer its ongoing maintenance.

“It has been exciting to see the joint vision come to life over the last year,” said Craig Annis, chief brand officer of the USGA. “We are fortunate to have the friendship and support of the Shinnecock Nation and look forward to seeing how the facility strengthens its love for golf.”

In collaboration with the Nation, the USGA broke ground on the facility in 2018 following the completion of the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The facility serves as an important reminder of the Nation’s storied golf heritage.

The facility is named for the late Oscar Bunn, a member of the Shinnecock Nation and a caddie at Shinnecock Hills who became the first Native American professional golfer. Bunn played in the 1896 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills along with the first African-American professional, John Shippen. Despite the protests of some golfers who didn’t want Bunn and Shippen in the field, the USGA insisted on welcoming them to the competition. Bunn finished in a tie for 21st place.

"Growing up on the Shinnecock Nation territory, golf was a big part of family life, whether you worked for one of the local courses or played,” said Shinnecock Sachem Donald Williams Jr. “The elders helped build the courses using oxen and plows and played on local courses. Family names such as the Bunns, Eleazers, Shippens, Terrys and Smiths excelled at the game.”

Williams Jr. continued: “Youngsters gravitated more to golf as opposed to other sports such as baseball and basketball. This naturally led to the formation of the Shinnecock Golfers Association in the early 1980's, which gives back to the Shinnecock community by raising money through its various outings and annual dinner to fund college scholarships and other community needs." 

Randy King, Shinnecock Nation vice chairman, added: “The Oscar Bunn Tribal Golf Facility will provide an important bridge to the youth of our community, continuing the legacy of Shinnecock Nation golf."

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