OGA History - Part III | Oregon Golf Association

The first part of our Oregon Golf Association history took the fledgling OGA from its founding in 1924 through the depression years and the guns of World War II, from the exploits of Rudy Wilhelm and Doc Willing to those of Lou Jennings and Marian Herron. The second part of the opus moved us through the 1950’s and ‘60’s, through years of slow growth and enlivened by the emergence of the first pride of young lions - Clark, Yost, Atkinson, Krieger, Cudd, DeMoss, Kabler, et al. But as the decade of the 60’s closed, once again important changes loomed. On the competitive front, our young lions of the 1950’s began to feel the burden of advancing years and the necessity to earn livings. New names were due to be etched on the trophies.

By 1969 it became obvious the OGA must take one of two roads. Either the Association had to take the low road and content itself with merely conducting a few tournaments and leaving true golf administration to other groups or it needed to find new revenue sources, hike up its pants and become a full service organization. With such doers as Ed Bader, Don Krieger, Bob Norquist, Chuck Fisk and Ted Wood moving into administrative prominence, there was no question which way the road would turn. The high road was the only one.

Something happened on the way to decision time. Computerized handicapping became a viable option to all that boring arithmetic faced by handicap committees at the clubs. The OGA jumped on the opportunity by making the computerized vehicle available to member clubs and changing the dues structure from a per club amount to a per individual amount (just as Ralph Tomlinson had wanted to do 30 years before). A dues structure was adopted that allowed the clubs to choose a list of services, e.g. computerized handicapping, contributions to the Evans Caddy Scholarship Fund and payment of dues on other associations. Voila! New revenue for a more active OGA! Not a lot, but enough to expand the office and to hire Mrs. Paul 'Bobs' Sullivan as an assistant to me. More about this wonderful lady later.

The expansion was not without turmoil. A few member clubs withdrew rather than pungle up the dues. Others would have done the same had not Krieger, Fisk, Bader and I met with the various memberships and blunted the slings and arrows of their outrage. Most clubs bit the bullet, however, and the nay sayers eventually returned to the fold.

One of the purposes of the dues increase was to provide a fund to seek a change in the method of real property taxation of golf courses. Jim Hunt ramrodded this undertaking, and with the help of then state senator Vic Atiyeh. 'Open Space' legislation was passed in 1971 allowing golf courses to defer certain property taxes. However, no limit was established on the deferrals, so the legislation was not as helpful as had been hoped.

By 1971 there were 53 member clubs (four recalcitrants already had returned) and 35 clubs were on computerized handicapping with 8,621 on the system. From that point, more and more clubs went for the machine, so to speak, and by 1979 there were 65 member clubs with 21,539 golfers served. The growth has been steady since. By 1989, when I retired, there were more than 100 member clubs and more than 30,000 handicaps produced.

Space constraints preclude me from painting a complete picture of all these years, but some highlights move front and center in recollection. The Association constantly changed but steadily grew as years passed. Junior golf prospered under the guiding hand of Bob Norquist and Mrs. Sullivan. In addition to her myriad office duties, the indefatigable 'Bobs' nursed two generations through an ever expanding junior program until she also retired at the end of 1989. Sponsor contributions helped the junior program mightily, particularly those of Tournament Golf, Inc., sponsors of the LPGA events in Portland, who donated thousands of dollars to OGA junior golf and who continue to do so. The Oregon Junior program and the Hogan Cup’s expansion to include teams from other states and Canada brought about the Junior America’s Cup matches so prominent today for both girls and boys.

Added personnel was needed to keep up with the work. Dave Ingham was hired in 1983 as assistant executive director. Patty Abel was added to the staff in 1984, and Charlotte Plank came on board a couple of years later. Internal changes were needed. The Association was incorporated in 1973, and Jerry Pearson of Waverley, a CPA, put the books on an accrual basis in 1979. Jerry was elected treasurer in 1980, a duty he continues to perform today, and his contributions have been mighty. The by-laws were restructured in 1984 to allow a president to serve a maximum of three years, thus lending much needed continuity. Bob Huenergard served in that office in 1984-85-86, and Don Krieger followed him from ‘87 through ‘89. Chuck Fisk took over in 1990 and Tim Stetson in 1993.

A huge change took place in 1986 with adoption of the USGA’s new 'Slope System' course rating which recognized, finally the vast difference in golf course difficulty and provided portable handicaps in the form of indexes expressed to the 10th of a stroke. This system may not be perfect, but it beats the old way. By ‘86 when the Slope became the rule, all OGA courses had been measured and re-rated. Ingham measured all of them, and a dedicated band of volunteers did the rating. This work is never ending and continues today under the guidance of Don Kowitz.

The tournament scene expanded. Emerald Valley became a regular home for the Stroke Play. A handicap championship was inaugurated in 1984, and a mid-amateur championship began in 1988. A senior division was added to the Oregon Amateur in 1987. Oregon also became a very popular location for national and regional events. No less than six USGA championships were conducted here in the years from 1979 through 1990, as well as four Pacific Coast Amateurs at Eugene CC and both Boys’ and Girls’ Junior America’s Cup Matches. The Blue Coats love our low humidity, comfortable temperatures and moderate prices.

The largest change of the ‘70’s was the start in 1976 of a Golf Course Acquisition and Usage fund with the aim of accumulating funds with which to buy, lease or build a golf course on which the Association could conduct tournaments and reduce the demand on member club facilities. Only $19,000 was accumulated in the first year, but by the end of 1989, when I retired, it had grown to $713,430 (total OGA funds were $829,173). An attempt to lease West Delta failed in 1985, and several other possibilities failed to prove viable. But as we all know, the day did arrive, Tukwila Development came forward, and today the OGA Member’s Club at Tukwila stands as a tribute to all OGA members.

The important parts played by Krieger, Norquist, Huenergard, Fisk, Pearson and Bader have been noted. It would be impossible to commend all who toiled, but special note seems in order for George Gant, who provided gratis legal counsel for almost two decades; to Fran Brinkman, who was treasurer almost as long, and to the late Dorothy Campbell, who was the first ladies' advisory chairperson and who made the women's field in the Oregon Amateur a vibrant, important part of that championship.

Ah, and who can forget the players? Who can forget that new band of young lions that came snarling to triumph in the 1970's - Mike Davis, Fred Haney, Dave Glenz, Peter Jacobsen, John Fought, Pat Fitzsimons, Bob Allard, Bob Gilder, Craig Griswold, Brent Murray, Jeff Sanders, Mitch Mooney, Randy Mahar. And Marcia Fisher, Pam Fox, Kathy Young, Mary Lou Mulflur and that most remarkable girl from Dayton, Mary Budke! Budke emerged from the junior ranks at Eugene in 1970 in which she played a classic finals match against Cathy Gaughan, going out in 32 only to lose, 1 up, when Gaughan scorched the final nine in four-under 33. Mary went on to win eight Oregon Am crowns in nine years and to become Oregon's first national amateur victor at St. Louis in 1972. Other national titles fell to this intrepid band - public links championships to Haney and Allard and the 1977 amateur title to Fought. John won 22 consecutive matches in national and international competition, one of golfÕs most remarkable feats. Davis won back to back Pacific Coast Amateur crowns in 1969 and '70.

More talent emerged in the '80's. Eric Johnson won the national junior to open the decade, and Tim Hval, the '85 Oregon Am winner at 18, collected the national high school crown the same year. Steve Rintoul won an Oregon Amateur, later joined Jacobsen and Gilder on the PGA Tour. Brian Henninger won the Pacific Coast Amateur at Eugene in '84 and also vaulted to the Tour. Mrs. Fisher corralled five Oregon Am titles in seven years, and Amanda Nealy won three in a row to close out the '80's. Kent Myers struck a blow for the more mature by nailing his third and fourth Oregon Amateurs in '81 and '83.

I had been an independent contractor, servicing both the OGA and the Pacific Northwest and Oregon PGA associations. With my retirement, each group went its own way and the OGA hired Jim Cowan of Tacoma as its executive director. When we continue this chapter, we'll get into the OGA of the 1990's and the marvelous things which have been accomplished. As I have said before, that's another story.