DAYTON – When Bob Runge first started running Oak Park Golf Course in Dayton, it hurt. It took a new greenkeeper and a new manager and it was a strain on the city’s budget.
Runge stepped in and filled both roles. And now, 11 years later, the golf course is in full swing and a major attraction for the Dayton area.
Runge has made many changes and improvements on the nine-hole course.
“I mowed them where people wouldn’t look for their ball and waste time out there.” he said.
The city had stopped selling groceries at the clubhouse because it was losing money, but Runge convinced the city to restart the kitchen.
“Now we’re making money” he said. “That’s probably the biggest improvement here.”
The clubhouse is open daily for breakfast and lunch during the summer.
The membership has increased and the golf course brings more green fees, said Runge.
Runge works on the golf course and enjoys spending time outside and meeting all of the people who come to play the links.
The course attracts golfers not only from Dayton but from across the region. Golfers include the tournaments that Runge organizes twice a month.
“Our tournaments, there we bring in many of our foreigners”, he said. “And we’re making a cash payment (for winners) and there are some courses that don’t anymore.”
The golf course also hosts many golf outings for various community groups or businesses.
“It stays pretty full” said Runge.
Runge was not always the boss of a golf course. Before joining Oak Park, he worked in factories for 20 years.
“That was a big change” he said.
But with management and leadership experience gained while working in factories, and some advice from his son who studied turf management, Runge is able to make this big change a success for Oak Park Golf Course.
Runge has been described as a “Great cook” and likes to smoke meat.
When a Dayton parishioner died recently, Runge donated his time and a lot of meat that he smoked for the family.
Outside the golf course, Runge is a member of the Dayton Community Club and Celebration Committee. He helps park for the annual Dayton Rodeo on Labor Day Weekend.
A native of Stratford, Runge moved to Dayton many years ago and enjoys small town life.
“I like the people” he said. “I mean everyone knows everyone.”
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