After 66 years of sharing office space with other associations and employing the services of independent contractors (first the late George Bertz, then this writer), the Oregon Golf Association stepped into the maelstrom on January 1, 1990, and opened its own office with its own staff. It was the proper step at the proper time, and it has reaped rich rewards.
Chuck Fisk of Royal Oaks replaced Don Krieger at the presidential helm, and Jim Cowan of Tacoma came on as executive director. Tina Krieger and Kathy Wentworth were hired to assist, and Don Kowitz, long an OGA director, took over the position of course rating coordinator. Charlotte Plank and Patty Abel of my staff were retained by the Association when I retired.
After a brief period in the old offices in downtown Portland, new, more spacious digs were leased in Beaverton. The next two years saw the Association grow in size and stature as the inevitable changes took place. The executive committee was expanded by adding director-at-large positions; the annual report was augmented to include a comprehensive directory of member clubs; the Oregon Junior Golf Fund achieved tax exempt status and became qualified to accept tax deductible donations, and the OGA took over administration of the Evans Caddy Scholarship program in Oregon. Also, dedicated volunteers were brought into the fold as members of the T.A.G. team to assist in the conduct of tournaments. They proved of immense help as the tournament program now included eight OGA championships and ten other events. Of course, the junior tournament schedule continued to grow under the superb guidance of Director Bob Norquist, Bob Harrington and Coordinator Ms. Plank.
Although the programs burgeoned, increased membership and higher dues made the purse fatter. In the two years from 1989 to 1991 total assets grew from $829,000 to $1,185,740. The all important golf course acquisition and usage fund climbed from $713,430 to $956,014. There now was some sizable money in the GCA&U fund, and a couple of things happened to make that of prime interest. First, Tim Stetson was appointed to the executive committee and made chairman of the GCA&U committee. Secondly, the Association became aware that Tukwila Partners of Woodburn might be willing participants in an OGA golf course development.
Tukwila Partners offered to give the OGA 179 acres of a 300-acre plot if the Association would build and operate a golf course there and the Partners could sell homesites.
In May of 1993, the deal with Tukwila was sealed, and in July of that year ground was broken for the first nine holes, a driving range, maintenance area and a temporary clubhouse. Bill Robinson of Florence was hired as the architect, Chuck Siver came on board as the golf professional and Kirk Kundrick was appointed superintendent. A previous issue of Pacific Northwest Golfer discussed the OGA Members' Club in detail, so we will not go into it here. As I write in mid 1996, the full 18 is in operation and has met with well merited acclaim.
As the 90's unfolded, the golf course development captured most of the headlines, but all of the OGA programs prospered. Fisk completed his third and final year as president at the end of 1992. At that time the Association had 44,000 members at 128 member clubs and 10 associate member clubs. Assets had increased to $1,338,000, and the GCA&U Fund had leaped up over the $1 million mark. The annual report of that year featured color and an expanded list of tournament reports. Junior highlights included the OGA's conduct of the Boys Junior America's Cup Matches at Pumpkin Ridge and a celebration of the Hogan Cup's silver anniversary.
Stetson, whose determination was instrumental in making the OGA Members' Club a reality, followed Fisk in the presidential chair. Tim served three eventful years before yielding the gavel to Buratto this year. The OGA staff grew and changed as those years passed. Jim Cowan was replaced, first by Steve Thorwald and then by Jim Gibbons. Patty Abel left and Kristey Comer came on as handicap and finance manager. Later Kelly Neely took over as handicap administrator, Ms. Comer and Tina Krieger resigned and Lisa Malone and Matt Allen were added to the staff. Lisa Malone was added to the financial staff in 1995 and Allen became tournament and course rating director.
Despite all the staff changes, OGA programs rolled on smoothly through the decade. Junior golf enjoyed a banner year in 1993 when the OGA boys won the Junior America's Cup title at Albuquerque and the girls' team finished third at Reno; when Tournament Golf Inc. increased its donation to the Junior Fund to $25,000 and the Association in turn supported the USGA Junior Amateur championship at Waverley with $6,600 and pledged $10,000 to the LPGA Inner City program to benefit disadvantaged youngsters. By the way, Tiger Woods won that USGA Junior title for his third consecutive national crown. More than 4,000 spectators trekked about Waverley's lush acres to watch the budding star.
The year 1995 saw the Association add separate senior championships for both men and women. More than 40 golf courses were rated, and 39 state-wide junior tournaments attracted more than 1400 participants. The second nine of the OGAÊ Members' Club was completed and was poised for a 1996 opening. Golf course financial projections were exceeded, and at the end of the year assets of the OGA and its two subsidiary corporations totaled $2,392,480. As 1996 opened, the Association served more than 50,000 golfers in 155 member clubs and 20 associate groups.
A milestone of some kind was reached this year when, after almost 70 years of two course utilization, qualifying was instituted for the Oregon Junior championship and the tourney itself confined to one golf course (Rogue Valley C.C. in Medford).
Other changes are imminent before 1996 ends. The Stroke Play chamipnship will be separated into individual men's and women's tournaments, and a womenÕs four-ball match play will take place in October. An Erling Jacobsen Junior Tour for novice players is in place with four non-competitive events. Already a women's handicap tourney has been started and the Association by-laws altered to give women's and men's organizations equal rights to representation on the Board of Directors.
While the OGA was marching steadily through the busy '90's, a galaxy of talented young players were making their marks on Oregon's golf horizon. Many of the winners of the 1980's continued to excel, but the march of youth was both inexorable and exciting.
Oregon Amateur championships went to both established competitors and newcomers in the 90's. Marcia Fisher won her sixth title and Amanda Nealy her fourth. Joan Edwards-Powell won the crown in '95 after many years as a contender. New to the title room were George Mack Jr., Paul Hanson, brothers Casey and Cam Martin, Ted Snavely, Dave LeBeck, Casey Winters, Julie Jesswein, Karly Mills and Paula Patterson. Fred Haney, Chris Maletis, Lara Mack and David Jacobsen continued to win as they did in the earlier decade. Some remarkable talented men passed the age of 50 and moved into senior play, Jerry Cundari, George Mack Sr., Bill Morrison and Ken Forster notable among them. Senior aces such as Tom Liljeholm, Kent Myers, Dick Estey, Carol Falk and Dotty Johnson continued to accumulate hardware. But more and more, the next generation glommed on to the headlines - Birk Nelson, Byron Patton, Amy Lawrence, Tracy Cone, Tim Cruikshank, Jay Poletiek, John Kawasoe, Anthony Kang, Jim Tucker, and Doug DuChateau were but a few of these.
As 1996 passes into history, the OGA stands tall among the state and regional golf association across America. What of the future? Where will the OGA be a decade from now?
Gibbons is in the midst of his second full year as executive director. His leadership has been most effective, complimenting the dedicated effort of the officers, executive committee members, staff and volunteers. This winning combination has enabled the Association to become a truly statewide body, and the golf course development promises a solid financial future
Gibbons views club involvement as the key to the future. He points out that OGA personnel are going out to member clubs as never before, helping them solve problems, promoting the organization and its services. He tries to speak to as many boards and memberships as possible. Kelly Neely last year conducted some 50 sessions with handicap committee members throughout Oregon and southwest Washington.
Asked about the future, Gibbons said:
'I feel we need more committee involvement in such areas as handicapping, junior golf, public links and tournaments and that committee makeup should include people from every area of our service territory. I hope the OGA can be a leader in bringing Oregon's golf community together to solve problems vital to the welfare of the game. I would like to see joint ventures by the OGA, PNGA, PGA and other bodies.
'We need to build an ever growing membership, make all active golfers OGA members through more clubs, business leagues and allied groups. We need to foster a larger and larger junior program and perhaps add staff in this area. We could undertake a scholarship program in addition to our support of the Evans Scholars. I hope we can do more and more in the future to give our members the kind of service they deserve - the best.'
If those fellows who answered Ed Neustadter's call for help and formed the OGA in 1924 could view the OGA of 1996 and hear those words from Jim Gibbons, it's a sure bet they'd approve. And if Oscar Furuset still were with us and could write the meeting minutes in his flowery style, one could also safely bet he would once again call for a libation from the gods.