Barnyard Golf

Writer's note: This is the initial article in a new series that will focus on the yesteryear. Most will be fact and some will be folklore, but all will be about the beginning and the path the sport we enjoy so much today has taken. Our sport has a very interesting history, some of which we all know about, some of it we have forgotten about and hopefully I can present some of what we haven't known about.

Before our sport took on an organized concept, horseshoe pitching was most often referred to as Barnyard Golf. Horseshoe pitching may have been thought to be more active in the rural areas as the shoes off the horse were actually used before the standard or official shoes was developed. But horseshoe pitching was active in the cities also, but the slang nickname stuck, and stuck for the first two decades of the sport.

By 1919, the sport had become widespread and considerable promotion efforts were being made to develop leagues and state associations. World Tournaments were being held each year. In fact, for most of the 1920's there was a winter World Tournament held in Florida and a summer World tournament held in a northern city. The NHPA had formed in 1921 and certainly the name Barnyard Golf didn't project the image the national leaders would prefer. But the newspaper media commonly used the nickname when covering tournament events. Not always, but commonly.

This was a period in time when horseshoe pitching had considerable coverage in the newspaper sport pages. Every newspaper across the country, whether a major paper or the home town local newspaper, covered horseshoe pitching events, leagues or tournaments, right along with baseball and all other sports of the day.

The name Barnyard Golf can be traced back to the originator, a sports writer from Akron - Harry 'Doc' Kerr. Kerr was a well-known sports writer, whose career extended into the late 1950's with the same Akron Newspaper.

The Barnyard Golf nickname phased out in the mid-1930s but a recent reminder just popped up on the E-bay auction, as a 1925 tournament trophy was up for sale. The engraving was "1925 Tucson Barnyard Golf Championship."

Folklore Jottings

Many of you may have a favorite old story that would go well in this series. Feel welcome to send it in. Write it up and mail to: Bob Dunn, 6417 Georgia Ave No., Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.

There is the story of how the term 'Four Dead' came about. There very well could be more than one or two versions; we'll print them all. If you have been told of the 'Four Dead' origin, or if you were around when the name was coined, please share that with us. Write it up and mail it in.