Bounded by Nature

From Gazette editions of October, 1960:

In one of the major real estate transactions of the year, involving the future of the Edgartown golf course and of golf as it has been played there since 1928, the course is about to pass from the ownership of Cornelius Lee to the Edgartown Golf Club Inc. Mr. Lee stepped down from the presidency last summer, to be succeeded by Robert Brown Jr.

The purchase price for the course, which includes seventy-five or a hundred rolling acres of some of the most sightly land at the eastern end of the Island, the clubhouse, other small buildings and a quantity of machinery, is $50,000. Mr. Brown and Mr. Lee said frankly that the acquisition of the course by the club, and the assurance that it will be devoted permanently to golf, makes it important to enlarge the membership. There are now some fifty members, with almost an equal number participating on a short time basis during the summer season.

Announcement of the plan for the purchase and what amounts to a campaign for new memberships ends widespread concern lest the course be diverted to other purposes, such as a housing development. Mr. Lee makes no secret of the fact that during the summer he refused an offer of several times $50,000 from interests that would have discontinued the course.

When Mr. Lee bought the land for the course in 1926, it was the old Capt. Chase Pease farm, though it had been used for golf in an informal way many years before. Captain Pease was one of the Edgartown whaling masters, and his house was moved many years ago from the farm to the corner of South Summer and Main streets where it now stands.

In developing the golf course on a naturally beautiful and appropriate site, Mr. Lee had the advice of a number of leading experts in this sort of planning. Year by year the course was improved, always capitalizing on the natural contours of the land, and the unique location so near to the shore of Vineyard Sound. In addition to its other advantages, the course had, through the years, the dedicated enthusiasm of Mr. Lee, who has declared time and time again that golf is God’s gift to sport — or words to that effect. He recalls that the New York Yacht Club, which had sailed into Edgartown on its annual cruise more than a hundred years before, did not repeat this visit until the golf club had been established. Play between the visiting yachtsmen and a resident group marked the resumption of calls at Edgartown.


A great and pioneering strength of the American genius has been the ability to keep on making better things in such quantities that they could be priced within the reach of vast numbers of people. In his latest book, The Waste Makers, Vance Packard does not imply that the traditional ability has disappeared, but he does say that the technical and industrial miracle of mass production and distribution is being applied in our time principally to increasing the consumption of goods as if this were an end in itself.

As a matter of fact, continually stimulated consumption has become an end in itself — to such an extent that all sorts of products are designed to last only a short time. The public is induced by advertising on the most colossal scale imaginable not only to buy but to trade in, throw away, discard.

And this incessant acceleration of consumption is using up the natural resources of the country at a frightening rate. Each man, woman and child is using up an average of eighteen tons of materials a year.

The new pressures Mr. Packard writes, “are causing ever more people to find their main satisfaction in their consumption role rather than their productive role. And these pressures are bringing forward such traits as pleasure-mindedness, self-indulgence, materialism, and passivity as conspicuous elements of the American character.”


Senators Leverett Saltonstall and John F. Kennedy have jointly addressed to the citizens of Cape Cod a letter reviewing the project of establishing a Cape Cod National Seashore Park, and the present state of legislation for that purpose. The Cape is continually cited in discussions on the Vineyard as an example of a beautiful place that has been spoiled — without, however, attention to the fact that nothing but luck keeps the Vineyard from being similarly spoiled.

There is much of common interest and significance in the natural attractiveness and summer resort relationships of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. The letter states, “Delay and indecision will bring waste and further imperil the proper preservation of this segment of America’s natural heritage. This relatively open and magnificent stretch of nature could quickly be reduced to an unplanned conglomeration of developments spoiling the broad sweep of dune, marshlands and meadow.” There may be no immediate application of this to the Vineyard, but those who love the Island must do some thinking.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner