Arthur Fenn: A Study of Sports Lineage

At Spogo, we appreciate all things sports.  One recent afternoon, my father forwarded me an email containing a link to a picture.

The picture is blurry, I admit, but the caption is clear enough:  “Arthur Fenn – First American Golf Professional – 1895”.  I did a bit of research.  Arthur Fenn was born in Waterbury, CT in 1895, and was considered a great athlete.  Apparently, he excelled at baseball, bowling, tennis, and my personal favorite, roller polo (has anyone heard of this?).  He tried his hand at the game of golf in 1893, which was considered “new” at the time in the States, and within 2 years he was a scratch golfer.  He is also considered the first American-born pro golfer.

While lineage in my father’s family is quite unknown and frankly untraceable, it got me thinking.  Everyone has a story about their family’s great accomplishments, but what about their sports?

People love hearing about sports families.  Currently, the Manning family seems to be the best example.  Archie, although not a stud QB (in fact, he was pretty bad), played 15 seasons in the NFL for the Saints (11 years), Oilers (2 years), and Vikings (2 years).  However, his sons are household names, even for families that don’t watch football.  He had three sons, two of which are headed to the Hall of Fame.  The eldest of the three, Cooper, was supposedly the most talented.  He was a star receiver headed to play at the University of Mississippi, when he got diagnosed with Spinal stenosis, and his career was halted.  As for Peyton and Eli Manning, well, we know what they’ve done.

What about mine? Were my ancestors jousting champions?  Am I related to this Arthur Fenn, professional golfer?

I wish I could say this is where I logged on to and found out he was my great great great-grandfather.  Alas, this is not that kind of story (however, if you compare this photo to what my dad looks like, the stashe connection is uncanny…), even though I’m sure the wishes otherwise.

Even with just looking at my recent family history, I’m more compelled to research this man.  My uncle was one of the best young golfers in Georgia, and received a full ride to Missouri (one of the top golf schools at the time).  He is still a scratch golfer.  My father was given a shot by the Kansas City Royals coming out of high school, but decided to go to college instead (I still give him a hard time about this).  What more proof do I need to connect Arthur and myself?  O.K., a lot.

Maybe someday history of my father’s predecessors will surface.  Maybe I should do some hard research to try to connect the dots.  For now, it’s always important to think about where sports have been, where our families have been, and each family’s connection to sports history.  Even if your family has no “Manning” in it, we all make a mark on sports and life simply by participating, at all levels.  For us at Spogo, well, we’re hoping to make a lasting mark in our own way.


About Patrick Fenn

Director of Content and Community for Spogo, an interactive and rewarding second-screen experience for sports fans.

One response to “Arthur Fenn: A Study of Sports Lineage”

  1. Mimi says :

    Patrick, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that you are a direct descendant of this Arthur Fenn. Too much of a coincidence otherwise. Nonetheless, sports has a way of including us all in one big family.


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