• Laura Miner

Perhaps I’ve uncovered an actual craze that over a century ago struck Chicago. Perhaps it was nothing more than a relative handful of Chicagoans beating the summer heat by getting up when it was cool.

At any rate, I just searched the Tribune archives for a story I had a hunch I’d find. Sure enough, “Trailing the Patient Golf Fiends Over the Public Links” was published on July 11, 1909. “Wherever there are public links,” the Tribune reports, “there, in the early morning hours, one is sure to find a golf mad crew that has sacrificed a delicious ‘last’ nap for the sublime joy of hitting a little ball to an uncertain goal.

“They begin to arrive at about 4 a.m. They come in pairs and parties. The woman of fashion is there intent on bringing the roses to her pale cheeks through a daily devotion to the fashionable exercise. The business woman, trig [sic] and energetic, makes her appearance in company with a friend and starts her ball flying or fluttering toward the first ‘green.’ Old men and young men, rich men and poor men, all art there. The fever of golf is epidemic and everybody has ‘caught’ it.”