This is where you will find stories and other interesting excerpts from
York Golf Club’s rich history.
Doug Hoover’s 90th Anniversary Speech
1924 – the year when just about the youngest of our nation’s “greatest generation” were born – Calvin Coolidge was president – we were still 3 years away from Babe Ruth shocking the baseball world with an improbable 60 home runs – Charles Lindbergh had not yet flown the Atlantic – and it would be 6 more years before Bobby Jones achieved golf’s impregnable quadrilateral.
Masons from York Lodge purchased 140 rolling acres along the Olentangy in the far northern regions of Franklin County as a recreation venue for its members and those of University and Capital City Lodges. The first 9 holes were opened in 1927 – now I may sound like H. Ross Perot here – but stay with me on this – #2 was #1, what is today #7 that we knew for a long time as #8, did not exist – current #8 which we knew as #9 was then #7 – are you still with me? – and #1 was #9. Some of you may remember the old dance pavilion at the east end of the practice range that was removed in 1984. The golf registration desk was in that building when the course opened.York expanded to 18 holes in 1931 with the insertion of now #7 and the original back 8 was constructed.
The Depression, and then World War II with gasoline rationing, took their toll on York, and the club came extremely close to selling the property. But York survived and continued its quiet existence along the then sleepy stretch of U.S. 23 north of Worthington. The club entrance drive intersected High Street at a 90°angle. The mom and pop York Motel preceded the High Street Baptist Church, and the 6 Oaks Tavern stood at High Street level over what is now the I-270 median. A grass airstrip existed where E. Campus View Blvd. is now, and Steve Schemine’s golf driving range (Steve had beenYork pro in the late 30s and early 40s) was operated where the Radio City apartments now sit north of Campus View.
Then in 1962, there was talk about a freeway and York changed forever. In the later mid 1960s, I-270 was opened east of US 23, and for a few years the roadway stopped just west of High. Bu,t with the soon to be built westward continuation and High Street cloverleafs, the club entrance was shifted north where it has lasted until this year.
Then in 1974, a seemingly innocuous sanitary sewer was constructed underneath 270 and north across York. The next time you play #16, you may notice a glimpse of concrete casing in the left ditch nearing the green. That contains the sewer. Innocuous? If you can flush, they will come. They came. We have witnessed the incredible explosion of development that continues to this day, 40 years after that sewer was installed.
Before then, a corn and barley field separated York from the Pontifical College Josephinum campus. But, an early development following the installation of the sewer was the Woods of Josephinum Subdivision on our northern border. Then in the early 1990s, the first round of US 23 “improvements” was begun by the government. High Street traffic was dramatically expanding and ingress and egress to York was increasingly more difficult and more dangerous.
Through the foresight of then board member, Glenn Baker, the club purchased the house that sat near now #5 tee. It was becoming clear that our High Street entrance would eventually end and, that property appeared to be our escape route. But, the subdivision restrictions required each lot to be used solely for single family residence purposes, and100% approval of the lot owners was needed to change those restrictions. No way. However, when the earlier rerouting of the club entrance to the north took place, that strip of roadway paralleling High Street called York Temple Drive was dedicated a public road. The State was becoming progressively aware that the High Street club entrance was unsafe. So York stipulated that for a fair price, the club would not fight the appropriation by eminent domain of York’s house to connect York Temple Drive with another dedicated public street, West Campus View Blvd. Our current Board president, Steve Rowe, negotiated that fair price. So now, we have much safer, and when all construction is completed, much more accessible ingress and egress.
That’s a look back at just some of the property aspects of York. But property means nothing without people. Much emphasis in today’s golf world revolves around what we know as the majors. Well, York has some “major” connections. The original architect was George Sargent, who was the first professional of Scioto Country Club when that course opened in 1916. George just also happened to win the 1909 United States Open championship. Today, Jack Nicklaus commands $2 million to design a signature course. George Sargent commanded $200 to design York. But, please don’t pity George, he also commanded an additional $200 to oversee construction. We got our money’s worth.
York’s first professional was Herman Densmore Shute, more popularly known as Denny. He was not only the first back to back winner of the PGA championship in 1936 and 37, he also won the 1933 British Open. George Sargent and Denny Shute – major winners with ties to York Golf Club.
While not a major winner, York has another honored, notable member. In its February, 1994 issue, Golf Digest named its junior amateur player of the year, a young man who would go on to incredible golfing success, Eldrick Tiger Woods. His picture appeared in that issue of the magazine. On that same page, the picture of another player appeared, the senior amateur of the year. That golfer has won numerous tournaments not only in Ohio but in Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and elsewhere, including a remarkable 15 consecutive club championships at York. He was early named a member of the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame. Some of his fellow honorees are Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus, to mention just a few. While he is a champion golfer, to those who know him and who have competed against him, predominantly unsuccessfully, he is a better gentleman, humble in victory, gracious in defeat. And he has been, wherever he has traveled, an outstanding ambassador for York Golf Club. Health issues have prevented him from being here this evening, but a round of applause is in order for York’s Charles Edward Stanley Chuck Smith.
While preparing, I noted something quite remarkable. The clubhouse was greatly renovated in 1992 with an expanded grill room, liquor license, a new all-purpose room, enhanced locker rooms, and other amenities. That required a new position, clubhouse or club manager. As he describes himself as a then 33 year old kid, Chuck Dahn, arrived in 1996, and has remained our manager, now in his 19th year. In 1964, Joe Schurtz was named golf professional. Bob Hoskins followed Joe in 1982, and Glenn Johnson followed Bob beginning in 2002. Glenn is the junior member in years of service, completing his 13th year. That’s only 3 golf professionals in the past 51 years. Pretty incredible.
But those numbers pale in comparison to the third management position – course superintendant. In 1962, Lonnie Osborne replaced his deceased brother, Tom, and served through 1982 when Chris Gates came on board. Chris just retired a couple of months ago after 32 years of service, the longest serving manager in York’s history.
Ladies and gentlemen, that amounts to 123 years of managerial positions involving only 6 individuals. That may be unparalleled anywhere.
Looking at Chris’ 32 years, he started when York had a single line watering system with sprinkler heads manually inserted in the line junctions. Back then, almost all watering was done at night. The superintendant’s job was truly 24/7.
The stream that runs along the right of new #11 eventually empties into the Olentangy. When the I-270 west to 315 north exit ramp was built, it covered the stream and the State inserted a 5′ diameter concrete culvert. But the expansion of development east of High with additional asphalt and rooftops greatly increased the volume of water during heavy storms. Think of a bathtub with a cascading spigot, but only one drain insufficient to handle all of the onrushing water. It eventually comes over the top and floods the bathroom. That happened to York periodically, and the entire lower level would flood, sometimes for several days, jeopardizing particularly the four river basin greens. Chris worked tirelessly during those times and saved our course until the State replaced the smaller culvert with one carrying 3-1/2 times the volume. A drainage ditch was also built in front of 17 green and 15 tee and the course has not flooded since.
Then in the 4th quarter of his career, Chris was smacked in the face by a pesky little beetle, the Emerald Ash Borer. York had planted around 250 ash trees in the early 1960s upon the then arborist advice that the ash was the perfect replacement for the elm trees devastated by the Dutch Elm Disease. Mother Nature can work in seemingly devious ways. Those are just a few of the battles that Chris has faced.
Ladies and gentlemen, will you please salute John Chris Gates for his tireless, dedicated service to you and York Golf Club. Please also thank his spouse, Maureen, for her sharing of Chris’ time to benefit us.
I do not like to interject personal thoughts, but in this case feel I must. I have had the privilege of being affiliated with the Columbus District Golf Association for over 30 years and the Ohio Golf Association for nearly 25 years. In those capacities, I have interacted with many, many members from many, many clubs. It is truly significant the number of times I have heard compliments about York from others, whether from golfers having played casually or competitively, or whether from the organization tournament administrators, about the condition of York, (thank you Chris), the treatment and cooperation from the professional staff (thank you Glenn), and the courtesies and accommodations of our club facilities (thank you Chuck). It is no surprise whatsoever that such compliments are heard when you have the longevity and dedication of those in charge. In turn, they would not have served all of those years without a wonderful continuing membership base. York has been blessed.
Happy 90th birthday, York Golf Club.
100 Year Flood
No Shirts, No Shoes, etc…
The concept of playing golf without a shirt at York is foreign to our membership but in 1953 it was posted that all players be required to wear shirts. In addition, while just about everyone is accustomed to playing in shorts they were prohibited in 1953 as well.
While the shirt requirement has stuck, the shorts prohibition didn’t last long. It was decided in 1954 to allow shorts to be worn while playing golf in 1955!
Men’s Club Champion
Since 1927 York Golf Club’s Men’s Championship has been contested 86 times. The event has been won by 38 different players, 15 players have claimed multiple titles. Chuck Smith leads the way with an impressive 16 victories in a 19 year span, including 15 in a row! The list of repeat champions:
Chuck Smith 16
Scott McDannold 6
Ted Etzel 6
Barney Hunt 5
Joe Podolski 4
Chris Pagnotto 4
Ray Heischman 4
Frank Lewis 3
Ward Riley 3
Tom Truitt 2
Jahn Awe Jr. 2
Cliff Rhein 2
Dick Zimmerman 2
Paul Schurtz 2
Robert Keltner 2
The last 6 champions have been first time winners, Joe Podolski’s 2007 victory being the last time a multiple winner claimed the title!
A New Clubhouse
On October 8th of 1969 a special board meeting was called to finalize the plans for a new clubhouse and at this same meeting the Ohio National Bank was named as the financial institution for borrowing the funds for construction. At the regular board meeting later that same month it was agreed to accept the bid submitted by Howard Zimmer Builders for the construction of the new clubhouse.
Amazingly, after beginning construction the late previous year, a dedication ceremony was held for the new clubhouse on Sunday, May 3, 1970. At this ceremony a cornerstone was deposited at the northeast corner of the building andbehind the cornerstone a box was placed with several items. Among the contents of the “time capsule” were:
- Around 100 35mm slides taken of the demolition of the old clubhouse and the construction of the new.
- A history of York Temple Golf Club.
- List of club membership with yearly golf champions.
- List of past and present Directors, Professionals & Superintendents.
- An assortment of scorecards, membership applications and similar items.
- A copy of the 1968 auditor’s report.
- Two golf magazines and two golf balls.
- A sample of the carpet used in the new clubhouse.
- Several photographs of the old clubhouse, dance pavilion, picnic area & playground as well as views of the golf course.
- A biography of the architects and builder and a list of all sub-contractors used on the building.
- Photographs of the officers of York and University Lodges.
- Grand Lodge 1969 report of the Capital City Lodge.
- Two copies of the York Temple News.
As of this writing it is not known whether the time capsule has been recovered.
The Seniors League
The Senior’s League begins play in a little over a week (April 16th) making this the perfect time to share a bit its history. According to the list of past presidents of the league it was formed in 1972 making it 42 years old! Originally the league had weekly participants numbering in the 80’s & 90’s but that number decreased to around 35 in the early 2000’s. The leagues popularity has rebounded over the last several seasons with the size of the field exceeding 50 on occasion.
Using a weekly shotgun start, the league plays a variety of formats throughout the year including a number of ABCD better-ball variations. Since the 1980’s the seniors have calculated their own handicaps based solely on scores shot league play. The current formula uses the best 3 of the last 5 scores, making it more responsive than the USGA system.
The weekly entry fee is $5.00 and play begins at 9:00am during April, May, September & October. In June, July & August play begins at 8:30. Anyone over the age of 50 is welcome to play. Simply show up 30 minutes prior to tee off and enjoy the camaraderie and coffee & donuts!!