Thomas Sterling Beckwith, Jr. was born on February 5, 1865, the son of Cleveland’s premier dry goods, interiors, and carpets merchant. His athletic skill was not limited to the golf course, as he was also an accomplished tennis player prior to becoming a key figure in the introduction of golf to his hometown. Cleveland industrialist and philanthropist Samuel Mather brought the game to the city in 1895 after playing a round at the St. Andrews course in Mount Hope, New York while on a business trip. Upon his return home he organized the Cleveland Golf Club, which opened a nine-hole course in Glenville on July 13, 1895, with an exhibition match featuring Mr. Beckwith and J.D. MacLennin. Following this demonstration of the game, golf rapidly took hold in the area’s social and business circles.
Mr. Beckwith began playing competitively in 1897 and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1899. He won the Cleveland City Amateur Championship in 1900 and 1901 and claimed the prestigious North and South Amateur Championship at the famed Pinehurst Resort in 1903. In 1904, Mr. Beckwith became the first Ohio Amateur champion with his victory at Cleveland Country Club, and he reclaimed his title in 1908 at Canton Brookside Golf Club. He finished runner-up the following year at Portage Country Club, falling to Joe K. Bole in the final match.
T. Sterling Beckwith passed away on February 17, 1943, at the age of seventy-eight. He was inducted posthumously into the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in 1978. Mr. Beckwith played an important role as a competitive pioneer and longtime ambassador of the game of golf in our state, making his induction into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame both long overdue and very well-deserved.