Northern Kentucky Golf Association

The Oldest Golf Association in Greater Cincinnati

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  We are a 501c3 totally exempt non-profit organization. All are money goes to provide help and scholarships to local schools for their golf teams. We are looking for sponsors to help us in this cause, remember we are totally tax deductible.    

 In November of 1939 a meeting was called by the Five Golf Clubs of Northern Kentucky, Devou Fields, Fort Mitchell, Highland, Summit Hills and Twin Oaks to form an association to promote golf in Northern Kentucky.   All Clubs had at least one member present. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to call the association The Northern Kentucky Golf Association. Bill Berling was elected president and Ted Wells secretary treasurer; John Blakey ,the attorney, to write the by-laws.  The Association will promote two Golf Tournaments. One will be called Northern Kentucky Amateur Championship which will be all match play after  eighteen holes of qualifying. Every Player entering the tournament will be in match play in of the flights. This Tournament will be held the second week of June and move each year to one of the Five Clubs.   In September , the week after Labor Day we will have a Medal Play Tournament of 36 holes. Five low handicap members will be invited to play in this event. Summit Hills agrees to host the First Match Play and Medal Play Tournaments, starting in June of 1940.   In the Spring of 1941 we will have Team Match Play with four players from each club. They will play a home and home play and the one with the most points will advance to the next round.     The dues for each club will be fifteen dollars a year and payable at the first meeting of the year, the first meeting of the New Association will be held the first Friday in April of 1940.

1945  -  1989

A thank you...

I want to thank all of the Association who shared their records and memories, with a special thank you to Jim Barhorst who found answers for me when my own reach failed.    Mary Rasfeld 1989

DEDICATION

To all the men whose foresight to organize and promote the game they loved and to all those men who continue to work to make the organization a success.

THE BEGINNING

In the war years of the early forties, golf had paid a high price to the war effort. First, the men went off to fight, and those at home worked at jobs essential to the war effort and had little time for sports. Then the materials needed for golf clubs and golf balls went to war, too. Gasoline and tires were rationed and at times impossible to get. The golf courses , because of lost manpower and equipment, could not be maintained. The game of golf lost many supporters, consequently when these dark days were over, golfers in the northern Kentucky area saw a serious need to promote the game. In an effort to stimulate interest in golf and to generate a closer relationship among the, the officers and professionals decided to band together and organize to create a friendly competitive spirit through the game of golf. In 1945, the fourth war-time golf season was beginning although the game had almost been abandoned during the war. In April of 1945 there were still no new golf balls, no caddies, but the courses were shaping up, so a meeting scheduled to be at Summit Hills County Club but changed to Oelsner's Tavern was the Beginning.

It was thought at the time that the Northern Kentucky Golf Organization would be a division of the Greater Cincinnati Golfer's League...but that league showed little interest in this fledgling group. So club members and professionals, with Ted Wells appointed temporary chairman, met, elected officers and discussed how to achieve the goals that they had set for themselves. Daniel Fries was the first elected president, but by July Fries had resigned due to the "press of business". So the Vice President, Pete Stuntebeck was elevated to this difficult but distinguished post.     Five local clubs represented in this nucleus of the new Northern Kentucky Golfers League: Devou Fields Golf Club, Fort Mitchell Country Club, Highland Country Club, Summit Hills Country Club and Twin Oaks Golf Club; began dealing with reprocessed golf balls, no caddies, and golf courses that were far from the condition the game required. In a time that twilight golf was becoming popular for the golfers who worked in defense plants ( sometimes seven days a week ), the Northern Kentucky Amateur tournament was held; and Ray Frilling took the honors and the Spence Kerkow trophy. By August , war-time restrictions on gasoline were lifted and the usually faithful local golfers were traveling and enjoying other interests that had been waiting for "a better time".

When spring time and golf time came around in 1946, another meeting of the representatives from the original five clubs was held at the Greyhound Grill on April first to "reorganize" the league that was formed the season before. By this time, the office of president had been vacated by Pete Stuntebeck, (he had been relocated) and Ted Wells was the newly named president.   At this point in time the courses were again in fine shape, equipment was available to enhance the game, but a serious problem still faced this group...No CADDIES!!!  Headlines were reporting a scandalous rise in juvenile delinquency, but all efforts to recruit juveniles to meet the demand for caddies, failed. Young bots to caddy, to get involved in the game so as to become the champs and pros of the future, could not be found. The lure of earning a few dollars was in some way affected by the fact that Dad and Mom were both working and giving the boys much of the "pin money" needed by this age group. The opportunity to meet the business and professional man on the links, with an eye to the future possibilities of this association when career decisions would be made, was not even contemplated. The league felt that they, as concerned citizens of the community, could help cope with the social problem of delinquency, and at the same time relieve the deficiency in the caddy ranks. They proposed: to organize events just for the caddies; stage tournaments and special playing times; help with the finer points of the game; and direct supervision by a Caddy Master. Hopefully these activities would train more and better caddies and gain parental support. With the predominance of week day play during twilight hours, club managers urged parents to try to interest their boys in the game, pointing out they could earn as much $5.00 in a weekend!!!     Scarcely a month later the League decided it was time to look at the "ethics of the game".  During the past four seasons when it was impossible to buy new golf balls and those used, although reprocessed, were worth every caution to keep them in play, most golf was played by winter rules. President Ted Wells announced that all tournaments would follow summer rules and they would be strictly adhered to in spite of an anticipated elevation of totals on the scorecards.    As this new organization set high level goals and achieved them, the underlying impetus to organize, that is to stimulate interest in the Game and establish a competitive spirit among the community golf courses ultimately led to growth. With growth , more challenges that the Northern Kentucky Golfers' League met with enthusiasm, generosity and success.     This was how it began. 

The Association grows...more clubs added to the original set

1962    Campbell County Golf Course which was later named A.J. Jolly Golf Course    1963   Boone-aire Country Club that closed because of financial difficulties. Boone County Fiscal Court purchased the course and opened in 1979. The Boone County Golf Course changed their name to Boone Links in 1989 and added nine more holes, making a total of twenty seven.         1968    Kenton County Golf Course with eighteen holes added nine more in 1976. In 1981 they expanded again to thirty six holes. In 1992 they added another 18 holes.    1969   Pendleton Country Club   1970   River Hills Golf Course but they closed in 1978.    1974   Eagle Creek County Club     1978   Beechland Golf Course later became Meadowood in 1989    1981   World Of Sports

HIGHLIGHTS THRU THE YEARS

During the early forties, the golfers in northern Kentucky felt that the game they loved needed to be promoted and at the same time create a spirit of competitiveness  among the clubs in the area. What this enthused and determined group accomplished is reflected today in the reputation of the area as one of the great golfing centers in the tri-states.

Along the way, this association picked up many other goals that were included under the umbrella of promoting the game and friendly competitiveness.

During the war years many events were staged for the War effort.  Not just the entry fees for tournaments, but other events as well to benefit the Red Cross, The War Chest, War Bonds and Stamps. The Bonds and  Stamps were frequently given to the winners in place of the usual trophy.

In 1950 while the group was still interested in the promotion of golf in general and not merely for the advancement of competitiveness for the benefit of the top flight players, Ted Wells stressed that the members of the organization want it understood that the rankest of the dubs as well as the better golfers is given the same consideration. Quoting Wells " The association is formed for the sole purpose of promoting golf in northern Kentucky and doing everything within its power to aid the local golf clubs and their respective memberships. Golf has advanced in this locality through the workings of the association and this group intends to continue its work and see golf and its facilities as well as its players progress as time goes on".   

Never losing sight of the tremendous tasks undertaken, other decisions had to be made, and time and again committees formed to analyze problems and bring solutions to the league. It is appropriate that small problems and large were all met with a determined attitude and enthusiasm. Large and small some of the work and accomplishments attributed to this group are outlined here.   

In 1969, the current by-laws were adopted.   The Junior Amateur Tournament was wholly sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Golfers' Association in 1964 when the Kentucky Post decided not to co- sponsor this event. In 1973 geographic parameters for membership in the NKGA had to be drawn.

A committee was formed to look into new ways to give local golf a more useful and meaningful purpose for the next year. This committee with McATEE as chairman and George Ritchy, Hank Schmidt, Bob White, Larry Elkins and Charlie Huenefeld were to report in 1974.

1973-- The age for the participants in the Junior Amateur Tournament was clarified...cannot be 19 after August 12. In 1974 a committee with Hank Schmidt as chairman with Charlie Huenefeld, Bob Finnell, Jim Barhorst, Bill Clinger and Mel Greene were to draft a letter to schools and colleges regarding unsupervised practice at area golf courses and damages made to those courses. Later that same year, one member from each course volunteered to supervise school golf.    1975-- Junior Amateur age limit was redefined. Participants must be no older than 18 on or before the first day of the tournament. This was the first year women ran a refreshment stand and the proceeds of  $97.00 went into a fund to be used to give mementos  to the boys in the tournament.           

1975   The team matches staged every year were losing the interest of the clubs for the last two or three years. The committee of Walter Dierig and Norb Pelgen investigated the problem, and after much discussion it was decided to retain the matches; but was later changed to Best Ball as not every course had a team for the tournament.  In this year, 1975 Mrs. Page Carran Harris presented the trophy to the winner of the Carran.  And this was the year that the NKGA voted that beginning in 1976 all events sponsored by the NKGA would allow Carts!!!

The committee of Jim Barhorst, Chairman, with Tom Potter and Bob Doyle were charged with the responsibility of " Rules of Conduct" for upcoming tournaments in 1977

1978 began another drive for the promotion of golf. The membership thought it would be in keeping with their original goals if they could help the northern Kentucky colleges' golf programs. They started a fund, and each of the member courses sponsored events to make money for the NORTHERN KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP FUND.  John Carson, chairman with Charles Dickhaut, John Meyers and Don Rose were the committee to  approach the schools to see if this idea could become a reality. Later this committee was expanded to include Bob Doyle, Carl Wessell, Don Pulsfort, Carol Houchen, Herb Fitzer, Al Litzler and Art Greene.

Other noteworthy events of 1978 were the " Rules of Conduct " were read and the motion to accept was passed. This was also the year that  " Player of The Year " was suggested to recognize those golfers who excelled. Steve Houchen as chairman working with John Carson, Dick Ries and Art Greene proceeded yo make this happen.

1979  A point system for the " Player of The Year " was discussed. Later, a point system was adopted. The Northern Kentucky Golfers' League decided that by 1980 they would have funds in place to start the scholarship fund to Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More College.

In 1980 the Clubs were continuing to stage events for the scholarship fund and first payment of five hundred dollars was made to Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More College.     The New " Rules of Conduct" were used in the Junior Amateur Tournament and those in charge reported they made a real difference!!!

1981   Plans for clinics for juniors were started. This activity was another step forward of the goals originally set in the meeting of the organization. "Teach the finer points to the younger golfers". The Northern Kentucky Scholarship Fund had two notable changes this year; the fund was to be renamed in honor of Charles Huenefeld, and Thomas More College no longer had a golf program, so the Northern Kentucky Golfers' League discontinued contributions to their athletic program.

Ralph Landrum's high school clinic was set in 1982 and then later it was cancelled. Another controversy over the geographic parameters and rules governing the participants in NKGA sponsored events. 1983  Again the clinic for the kids was not accomplished, it was rained out.  Ralph Landrum had played in the U.S. Open and seemed the perfect golfer to teach the clinic and gain the respect of the kids and advance the game through them.  In the minutes of the meeting held August 19, 1983 it was recorded that there was a discussion about changing the name of the group that was called the Northern Kentucky Golfers' League. To quote the minutes.. "It was brought up for thought that the name 'Northern Kentucky Golfers' League' indicated a group of golfers in a golf league, which in turn indicated playing the game and having fun .  The time may be right to change the word ,' League ' to Association which more accurately defines our group. We respectively submit this to the new officers who will be voted in this coming October and hopefully they will act on it".   The change was officially adopted in 1985. Also in 1983 John Carson brought up the fact that " this organization's purpose is not for the various representatives enjoyment, but its purpose is to further interest in the game at all levels and promote our sponsored tournaments".

In 1985 all participated in the "clubs for kids" where they collected used clubs for the kids who needed them. This project was highly successful and several years later the excess they had were donated to Scott High School for their physical education golf program. 1985 was the first annual Master Tournament which was re-named the Mid Amateur Tournament in 1989.

1986  Found new interest in the scholarship fund and was re-instituted with a $500.00 donation for Northern Kentucky University. Tournaments were once again held to benefit the University while hoping to build up an endowment fund to support golf. In 1987 $800.00 was given to N K U.

It was 1987 that the decision was made that all participants in golf tourneys sponsored by the NKGA must have a membership in member clubs or reside in Kenton, Boone, Campbell, Grant or Pendleton Counties.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY AMATEUR TOURNAMENT     

In 1940 Northern Kentucky was beginning to be recognized as the center of many accomplished golfers, but having played "second-fiddle" to Cincinnati Clubs and other Kentucky golfing centers prompted the pro at Summit Hills Country Club, George Meyers, to initiate their own amateur tournament. Six local clubs worked together to make this ambitious undertaking a reality.  The first of these tournaments was played in August, 1940.  Before play could begin, many details had to be attended. While credit for the institution of this still popular classic event goes to George Meyers, he had valuable help from the committee representing the area clubs at that time. Play in the tournament was limited to members of these Northern Kentucky Clubs.  George Meyers' committee with Dave Saladin as tournament manager were as follows: Vint Stegeman Highland Country Club, Frank Sandford Devou Fields Golf Course. Don Eddy Fort Mitchell Country Club, Col. E. A. Cassidy Ryland lakes and Leo Fried Twin Oaks Golf Course.  Entry fee for the first amateur classic was $2.50. All proceeds to be used for prizes for the winners, with a field of 75 expected to participate.

All the pros at the clubs worked in conjunction with the committee to stage the first Northern Kentucky Amateur Tournament which in later years was to be acknowledged as a premier event. Working with the Summit Hills pro and Originator George Meyers were: Elmer Gerth Highland Country Club, Ben Bastin Fort Mitchell Country Club, Cliff Sturgil Devou Fields Golf Course, Tom Packer Twin Oaks Golf Course and Happy Pleasant Ryland Lakes.

While 75 were expected, a field of 70 actually played in this inaugural tournament and Ellis Frakes of Summit Hills was declared the victor. Many of the men that have given Northern Kentucky the reputation of excellence in golf participated in this event. To name a few:    Summit Hills Country Club Jim Averdick , Jack Harke, Duke Anderson, H. R. Jones, Bud Carr, Dr. Mike Keifer, Ben Castleman, Jack Mahaney, Howard Cleveland, Ches Moreland, Ed Deters, Dr. Max Ogden, Jack Duncan, Carl Riefkin, Larry Fleck , Dave Saladin, Ellis Frakes, Dick Schlickman, Paul "Pop" Francis, Ken Swing, Francis Vehr and Ted Wells.     Twin Oaks Golf Course  Eric Bettinger, Leo Fried, Jack Huggenberg, Fenton McClure and Pete Stuntebeck.    Fort Mitchell Country Club John Blakely, Jack Carran, Don Eddy, Jack Hudson, Spence Kerkow, George Klette, Steve Maloney and R. Werman    Highland Country Club  Bob Stegeman, Vint Stegeman and Art Thexton.   Devou Fields Golf Course  Don Droege, Herb Fitzer and Lou Wise.

The Spence Kerkow Memorial Tournament

In 1944 the annual Northern Kentucky Amateur Tournament was used as the Spence Kerkow Memorial to honor the Ft. Mitchell golfing star who died suddenly the year before. The first Kerkow tournament was held at the Fort Mitchell County Club where Spence learned the game and then went on to win many top honors. Spence Kerkow was recognized as one of the most popular and proficient golfers ever to be developed in the Northern Kentucky area. Kerkow may have begun the trend of excellence that later gave the Northern Kentucky area the reputation of the training ground for golfers who excel. Many young golfers began their interest and play here.  Some of the honors Spence Kerkow achieved in his short golf career are: The Kentucky State Amateur...three times,    The Central Kentucky Crown...four times,   The Northern Kentucky Amateur...in 1942  and he continued to distinguish himself while playing on the Washington Lee University golf team.

The first Kerkow Memorial was staged at twilight to give everyone the opportunity to compete without absenting themselves from their very important and critical war jobs.

The Northern Kentucky Golf League received a letter from Dr. and Mrs. Kerkow, parents of Spence, in which they express their appreciation to the association's officers for naming the 1944 Northern Kentucky Amateur as a memorial for Spence. " No one loved the game more than did our Spence and the many friends he acquired in playing the game were all grand to him". Dr. and Mrs. Kerkow donated a huge sterling silver trophy which remained in the club represented by the champion until the following year.  The committee for this initial Kerkow Memorial Tournament was representative of the five clubs in the area. They were:  T. Everett Cobb  Fort Mitchell Country Club, Carl Riefkin  Devou Fields Golf Club, Jim Bush  Devou Fields Golf Club,  Bill Berling  Summit Hills Country Club,  Leo Fried  Summit Hills Country Club, Walter Moser  Highland Country Club, Bill Pfirmann  Highland Country Club, Pete Stuntebeck  Twin Oaks Golf Club, Elmer Heupel  Twin Oaks Golf Club.  T. Everett Cobb was the chairman of the committee.

The Spence Kerkow Memorial continued annually until 1968. At that time the tournament's name reverted to The Northern Kentucky Amateur.

Carran Tournament

In 1950 as the golfing organization was planning events for the year, the annual medal play tournament among those events, it was proposed that this tournament be dedicated to the memory of Jack Carran who lost his life in the U.S. Navy during World War I I. Carran was formerly a member at both Summit Hills Country Club and Fort Mitchell Country Club.  This tournament has remained a popular event on the Northern Kentucky Golfers' Association's schedule throughout the years.