SALEM – Members of the Salem Golf Club plan to have the party of their century today and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the mainstay as a travel destination in the community.
Whether it’s an 18-hole round, a rousing game of mahjongg, lunch, dinner, a large community or family event, an intimate get-together or an afternoon swim, members, guests and audiences had many reasons to gather at the Timothy Gee Farm since 1921 .
“We are proud of our long history and still excited to be part of the community and look forward to our next 100 years.” SGC executive director Rick Evans said.
Centennial fun begins today at 1:00 p.m. with a golf tournament for all skill levels, men, women and juniors, followed by a barbecue evening at 6:00 p.m. and after-dark fireworks between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Mike Newman will sing the Star-Spangled Banner National Anthem and Salem Boy Scout Troop 3 will showcase the colors. DJ Johnny will play music and perform kids games.
“We are very much looking forward to our centenary. Pretty neat. We enjoy our club, ”said SGC member Mary Melhorn from Hanoverton.
“We love our club” Mahjongg colleague and SGC member Lana Grubbs from Leetonia intervened.
They were part of a group of four that recently gathered in the formal lounge on the first floor of the SGC clubhouse with Laurie McClester from Lisbon and Ronnie Lippiatt from Salem to play the tile-based game. About a dozen women meet every Thursday morning to play. Ladies day for golf is Tuesday morning. Many of them have used the club for family celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries, and graduation parties.
“The club promotes many simple friendships through what we do”, said McClester.
The estate holds a great deal of public and personal history for the community, members, and staff. Take, for example, Jim Hippely, a member and retired groundskeeper who is still helping with the maintenance of the pitch in his 80s. The 1957 graduate of Salem High School Class began playing caddy on the 9-hole course in 1949 at the age of 10 and then got the opportunity to work in the pro shop. After high school, he began working on the course himself and briefly moved to the City Parks & Recreation department for four years. He returned to SGC in 1968 when the last nine holes were added and a first class 18 hole golf course was created.
“I think it’s great that we’re still here. In my opinion the best club “, he said.
Another long-time employee is behind the bar. Patsy Hardy has been pouring drinks in the lounge for 41 years. The staff consists of 16 full-time and 30 part-time employees who work in the clubhouse, in the swimming pool, in the maintenance of the site or in the administration of the golf course. Tobin Lane is the golf course superintendent and Glenn Huston is the chef.
Golf Pro Tom Atchison, who has been there for seven years, said it was a great course with a great course layout. He said the members are doing the facility.
“Not many clubs in the United States can say they are celebrating 100 years” he commented on the milestone and added “It’s a hidden gem.”
Evans, who joined the team three years ago, worked in Columbus and California but grew up outside of Mansfield. SGC has over 300 members, including families with four generations represented. At 96, Jean McCulloch is the oldest member.
A press release produced by Evans describing the highlights of the past 100 years stated that club founders Harold Brian, Charles Brooks, Ralph Campbell, G. Ramsden Deming, William H. Dunn, Charles Gibson, CD Harris, WD McKeefrey, William Mullins, and Fred Pow.
“These gentlemen researched numerous potential locations for their new business, including the Salem Country Club and the old Polo Field in North Ellsworth, before settling on the so-called“ Timothy Gee ”farm south of Salem on State Route 45. The Hawkins family agreed to sell approximately 100 acres of natural springs, a stream, and a pond set in the hills. This place was valued at $ 100,000 by noted early golfer Bertie Way. it says in the press release.
Work on the course, supervised by RW McCallum, began in November 1921, with the original nine holes laid out and ready to play in the summer of 1922. The first official tournament took place on Memorial Day 1922 with 60 players and prizes for both men and women. The winner was GR Deming, 106 years old.
Evans said there was talk of recreating that first tournament on Memorial Day weekend 2022 using the old-fashioned golf clubs of the era.
President Warren G. Harding played with his close personal friend, Salem News publisher Louis Brush, and Salem-based Joseph M. Kelley, who presented Kelley with his putter, which now hangs on the club’s wall, in the early 1920s
Emmet French, runner-up for Gene Sarazen in the 1922 PGA championship, set the SGC’s first course record of 77 at an exhibition in August 1923. Runner-up Joseph Wells shot a 79 after just setting the course record at Portage Country Club at 67.
Other historical markers include the brick home of Glenn and Esther Hawkins, who sold the property to the SGC and served as the first clubhouse until 1953 when the original Gee Barn under the direction of Club President Joseph. converted into the new (now) clubhouse was Kelley and Al Parker. The pool was added in 1968 and manufacturers said it was the longest-running pool that still exists.
The clubhouse was expanded in 1972, expanded in 1976 and extensively renovated and rebuilt in the late 1980s.
Adjacent property has been purchased over the years and now the club is over 197 acres. Work on the second nine holes, designed by Robert Simmons, began in late 1968, although it wasn’t officially finished until the spring of 1969.
Some of the original barns can still be seen, with two horse stables for seating and some of the original barn beams still in use in the upper and lower tea rooms on the first floor. The ballroom on the second floor had been the main hayloft. The hand-painted Gracie silk wallpaper in the formal dining room on the first floor was recently restored and the room was renamed the Centennial Room. There is also the grill room, the pro shop, changing rooms and a lot of history in the walls.
“It has an ambience that cannot be found anywhere else for miles.” Evans said.
Due to the pandemic, he was unable to host many events other than golf last year “supported us as much as possible.”
Rounds of golf this year are even higher than last year, which was a record year, and he is grateful for that. Memberships have increased and he said new members are always welcome, with a tiered fee schedule. To become a member, funding by two members is required.
Many events have returned as well, including weddings, parties, and community gatherings, some of which are hosted by local organizations.
“We are happy that we are staying in the community” he said, pointing to past and present members and new younger members who carry on the traditions.
For information on membership or facility rentals, contact SGC at 330-332-0624.
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