Deep Dive: Exploring the Exhibits

Photograph of Oscar Bunn

This is a 1918 Southampton Press photograph depicting championship Native American golfer, Oscar Bunn. Oscar Bunn was unquestionably the first Native American to enter a national championship. The son of an important family on the Shinnecock Reservation, born in 1877, he came to golf as a caddy at the Club in the early 1890's and was presumably tutored in the game by William Dunn, the professional in 1894-95.


In the 1896 Open he shot 89 and 85 to finish in 21st place. It was creditable performance, if not quite as eye-catching as that of his fellow caddy, John Shippen whose father was an African American Presbyterian minister on the Reservation. Shippen, the younger of the two, tied for fifth place and finished higher than Willie Dunn, Willie Davis and Shinnecock's professional that year, R. B. Wilson. Both Bunn and Shippen pursued golf professionally and, in Shippen's case, to the end of a long life. Bunn passed away in 1968.


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