While in scenic Toledo, Ohio to celebrate my mother in law’s 81st birthday recently, I got the chance to play the Spuyten-Duyval Golf Course. I’ve played at a lot of golf courses,
but never one with such an unusual name. A couple of my fellow golfers suggested it must be from the Scottish language. The club’s website says the course was founded in 1929 by two Dutch immigrants who gave it the name which meant “In Spite of the Devil”.
But there is also a Spuyten Duyvil (slightly different spelling) in the Bronx, NY. It has a place in Colonial American history. It’s the spot where the Harlem River merges with the
much larger Hudson River. In the 1600s, Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Amsterdam, was alerted to the imminent attach by the British Navy. He dispatched Anthony Van Corlaer to alert the Dutch immigrants by blowing a trumpet. When he got to the north end of Manhattan, no ferryman was available to carry him across the river. Even though the waters were violently churning in a storm, he vowed to swim across “In Spite of the Devil” or “Spuyten Duyvil”. Author Washington Irving popularized this tale, describing the swirling whirlpools as devils trying to pull Van Corlaer under. He escaped the grasp of the Devils, but grew so weary that he was unable to swim farther and drowned.
The area that grew around there retains the Spuyten Duyvil name to this day. Toledo’s Spuyten-Duyval golf course isn’t as treacherous as the Bronx neighborhood was, but it did swallow a couple of my golf balls. It’s almost like the Devil reached out of the trees and pulled my balls into the creek.
Even though it was a nice course, I don’t think I’ll go back there. I don’t want the Devil knowing what I’m up to.