JAGA History (As Recorded by Past President Earl Kelly)

 JAGA HISTORY

As Recorded By Past President Earl Kelly

FORWARD

This history of J.A.G.A. is the result of a review of all available meeting minutes plus my personal observations while continuously active in the organization since 1968. For the bulk of the minutes we thank Mrs. Red Gossman, wife of long time permanent JAGA secretary and a belated thanks to Red, for saving the records and making them available. There are a blank spots where the records were lost; maybe we can find them some day.

Enjoy!

Earl Kelly   PP73

The First Year

Back in the 1950’s there wasn’t an organization or an activity in Jacksonville to bring the golfing community together into one big happy family, working to improve golf in Jacksonville. Neither the Greater Jacksonville Open nor the Tournament Players Championship had come on the scene. There was a need not filled, opportunities not taken to make Jacksonville the golfing center we have become. Who knows where Jacksonville would be today if a certain meeting at the George Washington Hotel hadn’t taken place.

It isn’t difficult to recognize the diversity that existed in the golf community at that time. There were almost as many different factions in golf as there were golfers.  To begin with, segregation was the law of the land, our black golfers played at Lincoln Park, a 9-hole course on the north side. Then we had Beauclerc Country Club, whose membership was predominantly of the Jewish faith. There were two city owned golf courses, Brentwood on the near north side and Hyde Park on the west side which had a membership of business men and blue collar golfers who couldn’t afford to or had no desire to belong to a private club.  The city-owned courses had men’s golf organizations to represent the golfers. The U.S. Navy added to the mix with a course at NAS open to sailors and guests. There were only three private country clubs: San Jose and Beauclerc on the south side and Timuquana on the west side. We also had a world famous resort golf course at Ponte Vedra.

With this mix it was not possible to determine a Jacksonville city golf champion. There was an annual city championship tournament at Brentwood but country clubbers didn’t generally play in any of the “muni” events. There was a popular tournament at San Jose but, like most country club events, it was an invitational and not open to all the muni’s best players. The black golfers played one four-day tournament a year at Brentwood but did not compete against the rest of the golfers. Beauclerc members regularly played at both the city courses and the other private clubs. Not much in common as the base to establish an efficient central organization!

But then something happened to change Jacksonville golf forever!

It didn’t start in your usual smoke-filled room. The scene is the men’s lounge at San Jose Country Club.  San Jose, one of only three private clubs in Jacksonville was situated on San Jose Boulevard just a few miles from downtown.  In addition to the San Jose members, the golfers seated around the various tables include a group of men from another private club, Timuquana, located to the west of town adjacent to the Naval Air Station.  Both clubs were proud of their respective courses, each a design of the famous Donald Ross and built in the 1920’s. San Jose was described as “new money” and Timuquana was “old money”. Memberships did not come easy in these clubs.

The day had been full, with fiercely contested inter-club golf matches between Timuquana and host San Jose that ended with a fine dinner and the accompanying adult beverages. As the time was mid 1950’s, the room probably was smoke filled. One of the many topics being discussed was the difficulty of determining a Jacksonville golf champion. While there were strong invitational events attended by members of San Jose, Timuquana, Beauclerc and Ponte Vedra, there were no competitions that included all golfers. The players from the public and semi- private courses were not universally invited to these event

They discussed the fact that an open tournament played at Brentwood had been most successful for three years. Members of the private clubs didn’t normally play in this event so there was no way to compare the quality of the players from both sides of the “golfing street”. The clubbers played at clubs and the munies played at the rest of the courses. As conversations got hot and heavy, it became evident that many of the men in attendance felt something needed to be done. There needed to be a means of bring all golfers in Jacksonville together to provide a city champion. One problem discussed was the fact that there were a great many club members who did not want to open up their golf courses to non-members. The evening ended with evidence of much interest but no resolution to the problem.

Present that evening was a young doctor from Timuquana who was heartened by the conversations and challenged by the problems that were expressed. Charley Hillyer was a single digit golfer whose play may have been limited to the country club circuit, but whose interest was in advancing the golf opportunity in Jacksonville. He made a decision that he was going to do something about getting all golfers together.

During his college years in Philadelphia he played with and competed against a young golfer from Rutgers University. He remembered that his college friend was then a commander in the U.S. Navy stationed right next door at NAS. Charley got in touch with Frank Heyer and asked for his help developing a plan for uniting the Jacksonville golfers. Frank agreed and the team was ready to get going. Hillyer was the detail person, an in-depth planner. Heyer, on the other hand, was a “let’s get it done- damn the torpedoes-full speed ahead man”. It was a combination destined for success!

With Hillyer in the lead, and with the help of Heyer and others who they recruited, the plan to set up a golf organization was underway. Knowing some of the people involved personally and others by reputation, I can imagine the problems that were overcome, the egos that were stroked and the many, many contacts with individuals it took to set up the May organizational meeting. Just reading Hillyer’s prepared notes for the meeting gives an idea of the detail and the effort that went into this undertaking. This was a group of independent-thinking men who were not universally supported in this particular effort at their clubs or organizations. Many golfers at the muni had no interest in an association with the country clubbers and there were just as many country clubbers who were dead set against opening their clubs up to the munies.

The most active golf operation outside of the country clubs was the Golf Association at Brentwood. In addition to starting up and running the highly successful championship tournament affectionately known as ”The Finklestein” (Finklestein Sports Shop was the sponsor) Brentwood’s Ralph Ghioto   promoted sponsoring the Public Links team that won the national title in 1953. Pro  Roland Hurley was recognized as a leader in junior golf in the community. It was important to get the support of this group plus the Jacksonville Business Men’s golf association members who would be representing Hyde Park

In addition to bringing in the members from the public and semi-private organizations, the organizers welcomed the participation of Beauclerc and Ponte Vedra. Both developed into as strong supporters as did the original members. There were two distinct divisions of golf in river city.

After what must have been many, many meetings with these various factions of golf, Dr. Hillyer was successful in setting up an organizational meeting of a representative group. Wisely, representatives of the two newspapers, the Jacksonville Journal and The Florida Times-Union, were included in the organization. The potential to form a Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association was realize

A luncheon meeting for this purpose was scheduled at the George Washington Hotel at 12:30 on April 20, 1954.  In attendance were:

Beauclerc              Sonny Miller, Henry Kramer

Brentwood            Ralph Ghioto, Clem Dowling, Carl Blank, Ernest Ricker, Roland Hurley

Hyde Park            Harold Ward, Sam Millner

NAS                     Cdr. Frank Heyer, Lcdr. Lou Brozo

Ponte Vedra          Jim Crawford, Manager, Rick Famlin, Pro

San Jose               Ric White, Walter Baldwin Jr.

Timuquana           Charlie Smith, Bill Stark, Lane Fulenwider Dr. Charles Hillyer

Times-Union        Frank Matey

Journal                 Joe Livingston

Dr. Hillyer chaired the meeting. A written proposal for “handling an encompassing city tournament” was presented to the group. Dr. Hillyer offered the following as the objectives for the meeting.

1: To assert the spirit of co-operation between the several groups present, in the interest of amateur golf in general, throughout greater Jacksonville.

2: To discuss the possibility of organizing a Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association made up of equal representation of each golf organization in the Jacksonville Area. The purpose of the organization to be:

A: Promotion of citywide interest in junior golf

B: Inter-club team competition through match play.

C: Inter club team competition by medal play at time of a medal play City Amateur championship.

D: A Jacksonville Amateur Championship played over a broader scale of activity and participation than presently exists.

Hillyer opened the meeting by congratulating the Brentwood Golf Association for their outstanding job providing a city championship tournament for the past 3 years. He also pointed out that the purposes of an organization like JAGA were similar to those of the Brentwood G.A.

Dr. Hillyer asked Brentwood Golf Association President Ralph Ghioto for comments. According to the meeting minutes, Ghioto  “declined to comment until he had a better understanding of why he was invited to the meeting, “ At this time, and later in the developing conversations, it appears that there were still many questions to be answered.

Various men spoke for unity among all Jacksonville golfers.  There was much discussion about who could play at different locations and under what circumstances the play would be allowed.  Hillyer re-read the suggested purpose of the meeting and asked all to consider these factors. After more discussion Bill Stark of Timuquana moved “That we organize a Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association”. Cdr.Heyer of NAS Jax seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously!

As a result of this meeting, after long and sometimes testy discussion, it was agreed to form the Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association. Chairman Hillyer closed the meeting with the announcement that the next meeting would be scheduled for May 18. Henry Kramer of Beauclerc invited the group to schedule the next meeting for lunch and golf at his club.

On May15, 1954 the Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association came to life! The meeting at Beauclerc C.C. was the first called meeting of JAGA and was the first to be held under the format of a meeting, followed by lunch and golf. The format of luncheon meeting and golf was not adopted officially until the July 1956 meeting. The representatives all were treated to a fine meal and played golf as the guests of Beauclerc. It appears that Kramer hoped to relieve some of the tensions of the April organizational meeting. It was apparent that all minds were not on the same track and a little friendly gathering with golf was needed. As was evidenced over the years, Beauclerc CC and Beauclerc members contributed to the success of JAGA in many, many ways.

Prior to the meeting, acting chairman Hillyer made a mailing to all who were invited. This mailing included detailed information for a proposed charter and by-laws. He suggested that a practical plan could be evolved at the meeting for the championship flight of the 1955 Jacksonville Amateur Golf Tournament. Suggestions on how this could be accomplished were also included.

At 12:30 P.M. the future directors met at Beauclerc C.C. to formalize a Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association. The following organizations and representatives attended and participated in the meeting.

Beauclerc CC         Henry Kramer, Sonny Miller

Brentwood GC       Ralph Ghioto Sr., Earnest M. Ricker, Jr.

Hyde Park GC        Harold Ward, John Andrews

San Jose CC           J. Duane Cann, Ric White

Timuquana CC      Charles C. Smith, Dr. Charles O. Hillyer

NAS GC                Cdr. Frank Heyer, Lt. Cdr. Lou Brozo

Florida Times-Union        Mr. Frank Matey

Jacksonville Journal          Mr. Joe Livingston

City Golf Advisory Council       Mr. Sam Milne

Ponte Vedra participated in the April organizational meeting but was not represented at the May meeting, as they did not have a golf organization at the time. By July, the Ponte Vedra Men’s Golf Association was organized and became members. Ponte Vedra is considered to be an original member of JAGA.

Officers for the new organization were elected as follows:

President: Dr. Charles Hillyer and Mr. Joe Livingston were nominated.

Livingston withdrew and Hillyer was elected

Vice President: Ralph Ghioto Jr. was elected.

Secretary-Treasurer:   Frank Matey, Sonny Miller, And Earnest M. Ricker Jr. were nominated. Ricker was elected

A great amount of time was spent reviewing the submitted charter and by-laws. Each item was reviewed and several changes and revisions evolved. Membership dues were established at $10 per year for each club. It was decided that the president with 10 days notice required prior to a meeting would call all meetings.

Ghioto led a discussion regarding the Public Links National tournament in Dallas. Brentwood had provided for the team financing in the past. The new members of JAGA acknowledged this effort by Brentwood and offered to help with the funding to send the Jacksonville team to Dallas.  Ghioto reminded the members that the Jacksonville team won the Warren G. Harding trophy for the team championship the previous year and would be defending team champions in Dallas.

The city amateur golf tournament was discussed. Ghioto advised the members “each member club will be invited to attend the preliminary meeting so that plans can be made for the next city amateur tournament “. There was no indication that Brentwood was ready to turn the event over to JAGA at this time but was willing to work with JAGA in some as yet undetermined way. (One can’t really blame Brentwood for being reluctant to turn over a very successful event to as yet untested and unproven organization.) As it turns out, the changeover process took several years but did emerge as an even bigger and better championship.

After what must have been an exhilarating and exhausting meeting, with much accomplished, the first official meeting of the new Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association was adjourned.  JAGA had arrived!

As the April meeting was an exploratory meeting and the May meeting was an organizational meeting, then the June meeting would properly be classified as the first regular operational meeting of the new organization. As such it set the tone for a future that was to be full of productive meeting, President Hillyer opened the meeting by asking for approval from the members “to start conducting business before the meal was consumed”. Several directors spoke during the course of the meeting. Ghioto discussed the Public Links Golf Team and the up-coming trip to Dallas. He advised that he did not feel that the members had obligated their clubs for contributions but that he did appreciate the support. Kramer and Miller of Beauclerc went on record as favoring helping Brentwood raise the money. The treasurer’s report indicated that only one member; Brentwood had paid the $10 dues. (All directors pledged an immediate payment). Joe Livingston spoke about a Junior Golf Tournament in Tallahassee. It was voted that the Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association would be invited to join. It was decided to schedule a citywide mixed two-ball tournament. The chairman of Jacksonville Jaycees, Mr. Nelson Harris presented a short talk concerning their junior tournament. A discussion involved getting stationary donated by Miller Press or Ambrose the Printer ended the business. It was a good start. Discussions included Junior Golf, Public Links Golf, Finances, and needed supplies, Conspicuous by its absence was any discussion of a City Championship tournament.

The July meeting at the George Washington Hotel continued the discussions started in June. There were more detailed discussions on the up-coming mixed two ball. The committee for the original event included Chairman Heyer of N.A.S and Miller of Beauclerc, Matey of the Times-Union and Mrs. George Norris of the Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association. It was scheduled to be a match play event with a qualifying round at Brentwood. The first round was scheduled for Hyde Park, second round at the Naval Air Station, third round back at Hyde Park and the final round at Beauclerc. One can assume from this schedule that Beauclerc was the only country club ready to schedule an open event at this time.

Discussions of a medal play mixed event were shelved. The medal play mixed two ball was started in 1958 and became the most popular tournament that JAGA produced. A new item discussed was a plan for inter club team play. This meeting also welcomed the participation of the Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association. Mrs. Ralph Price and Mrs. George Norris were the first JWGA representatives. Mrs. Price (Esther) was just starting a career with JAGA that would last as a continuing worker for JAGA until 1988. She was honored as a JAGA Life Member.

The August meeting continued as a luncheon at the George Washington Hotel. The dates and locations for the mixed two ball were confirmed.  The treasurer’s report indicated an amount of $67.75 in the treasury. The discussion of the maintenance of the two city owned courses indicated more money was spent on Hyde Park than Brentwood. It was decided to pursue the item of more money to Brentwood through the Jacksonville Golf Advisory Committee rather than a direct contact with the City Commissioners. At this time it appears that JAGA was prepared to get involved in the political arena to support the members.

As guests of the Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station, the September meeting was a luncheon meeting at the Officers Club at NAS JAX with golf to follow. The general discussions on the mixed tournament included acceptance of a permanent trophy to be provided by Allied Van Lines. During this period of our history the golf professional did not hold the position of high regard, as is the case today. JAGA recognized the potential of a partnership with the golf pro and invited their participation at the meetings. Golf pro’s Maurice Walsh of Beauclerc, Roy Hastings of San Jose, and Henry Johnson of Hyde Park attended this meeting.

October found JAGA back at the George Washington for an evening meeting. There was a long discussion of prizes for the mixed two Ball tournament. It seems that there was tremendous interest in getting this event set up as a first class showpiece for the new organization. A committee was formed to finalize a plan for 8-man teams for inter-club play in 1955. After extended discussion on a proposed city “beer bill”(no details) the meeting was adjourned.

The November meeting was highlighted by a discussion of the outstanding success in October of the first City mixed two ball. A decision was made to make the Mixed an annual affair. Hurley spoke at length on Junior Golf programs. He would prove over the following years to be a strong supporter of all JAGA programs. Harold Ward of Hyde Park (Jacksonville Business Men’s Association) reported on the plans for inter-club team play scheduled for 1955. At this meeting another member, Cecil Field Naval Station, was added to the roster.

Closing out the 1954 meetings with another evening meeting at the George Washington Hotel, Earl Poitevant was the guest speaker for the meeting. Lou Brozo reported on Junior Golf and team play schedules were discussed. With the treasury filled with an amount of $137.91, with new members JWGA and Cecil Field added to the team, JAGA closed out 1954 with 8 golf organizations and 4 support organizations as members. The future looked bright!

Starting off the new year with another evening meeting at the George Washington Hotel, the group discussed the up-coming team matches, standardization of handicaps and the request for a 4 day “colored” tournament. A discussion of the Women’s Professional Golf Tournament scheduled for March led to the decision that JAGA would support the tournament by their attendance but would not sell tickets. Hillyer reminded the members that the responsibility of each club representative is to attend the meetings or have a substitute if necessary.

In February the meeting covered a wide variety of items. A discussion of   influencing the City Commission to allocate additional funds to the recreation department for golf kicked off the meeting.   Mr. Milner reported that the 4- day “colored” tournament was scheduled at Brentwood for April. The Women’s Professional Golf Tournament was discussed and a motion for JAGA to sponsor a Golf Pro failed. A decision was made that a sailor who had once been golf pro could not represent NAS in the team play matches. Perhaps the most significant result from this meeting was the request from Ricker that JAGA be represented at the annual Brentwood Association meeting in March to discuss the plans for the 1955 Championship. This appeared to be the first step toward accomplishing JAGA’s goal of operating the tournament.

With no record available for the March meeting scheduled again at the GW, the April meeting continued with discussions of junior golf, team play results to date, and the Public Links national tournament. Ghioto discussed the history of the City Championship held at Brentwood. He suggested that next year, four months before the tournament, JAGA appoint a committee to work with the Brentwood Golf Association to make it a better tournament. There were no real concessions made on the tournament as yet but you had to feel that JAGA was gaining on their goal of making the tournament a JAGA event.

The May meeting was another evening meeting at the George Washington Hotel.  There were only seven directors representing five member organizations at this meeting. For some unknown reason, none of the original members were in attendance except Rickter, the secretary-treasurer from Brentwood. Rickter chaired the meeting and gave the treasurers report of $1213.31 on hand. He also reported on a junior golf tournament scheduled in Gainesville by the Florida State Amateur Association. A Jacksonville Golf Day to finance the Public Links Team was discussed. Team standings at the end of four months showed NAS Jax in the lead. A discussion on trophies and individual awards led to a motion that each member of the winning team be awarded a medal. This set a precedent for future medal awards to JAGA tournament winners.

It was suggested that the June meeting be scheduled at Timuquana or Ponte Vedra and that it be a business lunch and golf format meeting. Golf professionals were to be invited to attend.  It was decided that each member would pay for his lunch. At the two previous meetings at NAS Officers Club and at Beauclerc Country Club the members were guests of those facilities. It appears that they would still be guests as far as the golf was concerned. It was suggested that former USGA Committeeman Shepherd Barnes be invited as the guest speaker. A further motion was approved to invite the golf professionals to attend.

Nominations were opened for officers for the 1955-1956 terms. Ralph Ghioto (Brentwood) and Henry Kramer (Beauclerc) were nominated for the office of president. Mr. Ernest M. Ricker Jr. (Brentwood) was nominated for Vice president and Lt. Commander Lou Broze (NAS) was nominated for the position of Secretary/Treasurer. Robert Burns suggested that the new president appoint permanent committee chairmen for the whole year as soon as he is elected. This discussion was tabled until the next meeting. A motion was made and seconded that the secretary write to City Commissioner Simmons and newly elected Dallas Thomas regarding lack of action with regard to monies appropriated for watering systems for Brentwood Golf Course.

The May 1955 meeting was another busy one with much accomplished. It was a fitting end to the first year’s operation of the new organization. With this start, the Jacksonville AMATEUR Golf Association was ready to begin another year of activity for an organization that would continue to grow and improve the golf experience in Jacksonville.

The Rest of the Fifties

With the experiences of a full twelve-month’s operation behind them membership had grown in 1956 to include eight golf course facilities, plus four support organizations like Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association, the Jacksonville Golf Advisory Committee and the two local newspapers, the Journal and the Times-Union.

During the remainder of the 1950’s membership grew to include 15 organizations. In 1958 Selva Marina, Ponce De Leon, Fernandina Beach and Palatka became members. By 1959 JAGA was made up of 12 golf course facilities and three support organizations. A request from Jekyll Island to join JAGA was not approved due to the long distance from Jacksonville. A study was initiated to determine acceptable location for outlying member clubs.

The directors forged ahead into the future and the remaining years of the 50’s became the time to get further established and learn how to handle the job. In the next four years much more was accomplished to establish the firm base that has carried the organization though to the 21st century.

The membership continued to review its policies and procedures. Some of the changes or additions include the approval to use proxy votes in the annual election of officers. The meeting format of luncheon and golf was established as official at the July 1956 meeting. Meetings had previously been scheduled at the George Washington Hotel and The Green Turtle. One exception was the October 1955 meeting held at president Henry Kramer’s home. There were 15 directors at the meeting. With today’s membership of 50 clubs a home meeting would be hard to handle.

Stressing the need for the organization to mature and grow in a consistent manner, it was determined that four permanent committees would be established. Championship Tournaments, Inter-Club Tournaments, Junior Program, and an Entertainment Committee were formed. It was interesting to note that the entertainment committee was composed of all women.

On March 17, 1959 a motion “All city championship golf tournaments shall be sponsored by J.A.G.A.” was approved. A statement by Past President Hillyer supported this that “JAGA is the recognized golf authority in this section by U.S.G.A.” Another motion was approved that “ all JAGA tournaments would be run by USGA rules”. Another approved motion stated that the host pro should be invited to attend the meetings”

Tournaments continued to be an important part of the overall JAGA program. In addition to the very successful match play City Mixed Two Ball and the inter club Team Matches started in 1954, several new golf tournaments came to life. In 1956 we saw the start of the monthly Pro-Ams held at member clubs that, although there was a change in the 1960’s from JAGA sponsorship to PGA sponsorship, are successfully scheduled today. Initially, these tournaments produced income for the expenses of the Public Links team that represented Jacksonville in the national championships. 1957 saw the first Ladies Championship Tournament. The medal play St. Augustine Mixed Two Ball came into being in 1958, was almost cancelled in 1959, but continued on to become one of JAGA’s most popular events. In 1957 the popular Brentwood 4-ball became the JAGA four-ball scheduled for spring 1958. In 1958 a JAGA Seniors Championship tournament started up. This tournament was to develop into another successful and long running event.  With current tournament entry fees continuing to rise, the entry fee to the Senior Championship that year was $5.00. Golf was a lot less expensive in 1958. The junior golf program kicked off the annual junior tournament, started in 1959 and continuing at this date. . Although JAGA did have some committee meeting inputs, the City Amateur continued to be operated by Brentwood GC.

Brentwood remained responsible for supporting the very successful Public Links team that represented Jacksonville on the national level. Dan Sikes was a national champ and the Jacksonville team won it one year. Financial assistance was JAGA’s only input during this period. As a result of his dedicated efforts Ralph Ghioto was voted a permanent JAGA director as the USGA Public Links Representative. Later on, others were to be recognized as representatives of USGA and FSGA organizations. JAGA was fast becoming a “player” in local golf!

During this period it becomes apparent that any division or differences between the member clubs that may have existed originally were slowly being resolved.  In a six-year period the organization elected 3 presidents from the private country clubs and three presidents from the non-country club facilities. All presidents were directors of the original organization except Gabe Summers. Although not an original member, Summers developed into one of Jag’s strong supporters, including a substantial gift from his will that established a JAGA scholarship fund that exists today.

Also during this period two new directors came on board that will prove to be active in the organization in future years. With the transfer of original organizer Frank Hyer to his new Navy post, his replacement Bill Scarborough took on an active role. Also new was Gabe Summers who will be remembered for his Senior Tournament activity and his activity on our first Scholarship committee.

As we can see, the new organization continued to stress junior golf and tournaments, plus playing a little politics with the City of Jacksonville to improve golf facilities at Brentwood and Hyde Park.

The fifties contributed much to the growth and stability of the new organization. A solid groundwork was laid to allow the J.A.G.A. to grow and prosper.

Then Came “The Sixties”

As we move into the Sixties we find that JAGA has pretty well established the planned operation. The directors have continued the interest in championship tournaments, junior golf, and developing an organization to provide for better golf in every way.

The sixties show a sizeable growth in the organization and a similar growth in activities. The growth in membership was directly in step with the growth of golf course additions that sprang up in our area. As a result, JAGA added 20 new members during this period. With 0nly 16 members at the end of the fifties, this more than doubled the membership to a total of 36.

Memberships in JAGA were approved in the following order:

1960: Jacksonville Business and Professional Women’s Golf Association and

Jacksonville Beach GC  (Green Turtle  & Sam Snead were early names for the new course).

1961: Deerwood CC and Ribault Yacht Club

1964: Green Cove Springs GC, and Mayport Naval Station GC

1965: The Dunes GC

1966: Pine Lake GC, Pine Tree GC, University CC,

1967: Du-Clay GC, Hidden Hills CC, Starke GC, and Keystone Heights CC.

1969: Green Acres GC, Fairways GC, West Meadows GC, and Baymeadows GC.

The Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association that joined in 1954 continued to be a strong and active organization that was very supportive of JAGA but eventually discontinued as an active JAGA member. In 1968 two golfing associations requested membership. A committee study report suggested that only golf facilities be JAGA members. A policy was established to that effect and in 1968 the applications for membership from two organizations were not approved. No action was taken to amend the by-laws, however, and we will see in later years that some organizations without a golf facility were included in the membership. The two “non-golf course” organizations added during this period (Ribault Yacht Club and Jacksonville Business &Professional Women’s GA) were not destined to remain members very long. JAGA will prove to be flexible throughout the years.

In 1962 a complete review of the constitution and by laws was made and the changes approved.

By 1965 the membership clubs had grown to the point where the directors became concerned that the organization could grow too big, too fast, and began to study means of providing the desired services with a larger organization. In 1968 a committee study resulted in the recommendation that JAGA should limit membership to golfing facilities and limit directors to one per club. No action was taken on this recommendation.

Other activity during this period indicates the directors were determined that the organization be stable and grow, as the new clubs came on board.

In 1962 a new name (J Area GA) was suggested, but the name change was not made official until the September 13, 1966 meeting at Timuquana CC. It was also during this period that the permanent meeting date of the third Tuesday was established and the set rate for lunch, golf, and pro shop prizes was approved.

The initial interests of JAGA included a serious dedication to junior golf that continues to the present. The sixties became the time for major growth in developing a junior golf program. Prior to 1960 there was a popular junior tournament sponsored by a local newspaper. With the Jacksonville Journal no longer as a sponsor in 1960 the event was taken over by JAGA. This was the start of a long history of annual junior activities .The tournament was scheduled for the first week after school was out in June, and in 1960 an entry fee was set at $1.00. By 1964 the tournament had grown to a field of 94 golfers. In 1967 the tournament drew a field of 152 entries and it was suggested that future tournaments be scheduled at two courses.

During the sixties quite a few juniors came into prominence and/or started on the road to successful careers in golf.  Steve Melnyk got started on his US Amateur and PGA records by winning the JAGA Junior Championships for three consecutive years.  Other winners of the Junior Championship recorded in the meeting minutes during this period were Tammy Bowman, Terry Cattlett and Harrison Nesbitt. One of the prizes for the winner was a spot in the 1968 JAGA city championship. Also starting during this period on most successful careers in golf, Woody Blackburn and Robert Harris were recognized as Junior Golfers of the Year at the annually GJO Junior banquet in 1969. Blackburn went on to a successful career and winner on the PGA tour while Harris worked up through the club pro ladder to become the Director of Golf at the world famous Greenbrier Hotel. Another Junior who was getting started during this period was Mike Blackburn, who went on to a successful career as a golf instructor

Another up-coming junior golfer started to attract attention in the late sixties and, as a dark horse entry in the 1970 JAGA Junior upset the odds makers and 16-year-old Mark McCumber won his first tournament. That victory was to be the start of a long successful career in the PGA and later the Senior PGA Tour.

With the promotion and support of junior golf as one of JAGA’s main interests, 1965 was indeed a busy and rewarding year for junior golf in our area. In 1965 a junior golf organization, the Jacksonville Junior Golf Association (JJGA) was established by JAGA with the first meeting held that year. Also in 1965 the Dan Sikes Junior annual tournament was added to the schedule. This tournament became one of the most popular events, with 120 entries in 1966 and 152 entries in 1967. After a meeting with the PGA it was agreed that the annual Dan Sikes Junior tournament held in December would be under the sponsorship of the PGA while JAGA maintained the annual JAGA Junior Championship held in June. The PGA felt that developing Junior Golf was the responsibility of their organization and JAGA agreed to limit activity tournament activity to holding a championship each year.

Possibly the only disappointment during this period was the failure to get a girls junior tournament started. The Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association, with the help and sponsorship of JAGA, attempted to schedule such an event. When only 5 entries were received, it was decided to cancel the event. Much later on in JAGA history we will find a similar attempt met with much the same results. It seems that the young ladies in Jacksonville were not as interested in golf as the young men.

It was in 1965 that the University of Florida suggested that JAGA organize a golf seminar and banquet to be held in conjunction with the annual professional golf tournament, the Greater Jacksonville Open. This developed into one of the high points of the year for juniors (and the sponsoring JAGA). The first event was held March 9, 1965 at the old Thunderbird Motel in Arlington. 150 juniors attended the banquet. Junior golfer of the year awards went to Tammy Bowman (Lady) and Terry Catlett (Men). Pro Roland Hurley was awarded the Golf professional award for his juniors program at Brentwood. Bubba Williams was honored as Coach of the year. Several tour pros made remarks and visited with the juniors. It was an event that was to continue and grow as long as the GJO continued. The 1966 banquet drew 127 juniors and 5 tour pros participated.  Tournament activity grew during this second decade of JAGA growth.

The very successful City Mixed two-ball started in 1954 continued to be very popular but ran into scheduling problems. This was a match play tournament and required the involvement of five courses over an extended period. In 1963 the format was changed from match play to medal play to help with the scheduling and reduce the number of courses involved .It became more and more difficult to maintain this schedule and in 1968 JAGA discontinued the event. The St. Augustine Mixed 2 Ball continued to grow. In 1962 Esther Price was named as the permanent chairperson for the event. This established a practice that allowed other tournaments to become very successful by maintaining the same chairpersons for several years.

Operation of the City Amateur Tournament was taken over by JAGA in 1962. The JAGA Men’s Championship was played on Aug.11, 12,18,19 at Green Turtle GC, Hyde Park GC, Deerwood CC and Timuquana CC. (Note 2 Public and 2 Private course format). Henry Tuten chaired the event that drew 46 golfers with a handicap of 5 or less. Tuten continued for many years as the chairman of this tournament.

With Ghioto as annual chairman of the Seniors, Price named as annual chair of the St Augustine Mixed Two Ball, and Tuten chairing the City Amateur Championship these tournaments were destined to be successful well into the future. In reviewing the records of the various tournaments it becomes apparent that tournaments with repeating chairmen were our most successful events.

It was interesting to note that, by 1960, the member clubs had not yet resolved the problem of total involvement of all clubs in the organizations tournaments. Although JAGA operated on the basis of “all for one and one for all” all members at all clubs did not want to share their clubs except selectively. It became apparent in the scheduling of the 1960 Men’ Seniors Championship when Beauclerc was the only Country Club on the schedule. It took several more years to get total participation from all members.

The first JAGA Women’s Championship was scheduled in 1960. It is interesting to note in the 1961 minutes that this version of the tournament charged an entry fee of $10.00 and included a cocktail party! The Women’s Championship continued active during this period but was eventually replaced by the JWGA Championsh

JAGA was heavily involved in the Greater Jacksonville Open during this period. In addition to the junior banquet held the night before the pro-am, JAGA provide marshals for the tournament and several directors were involved as officers in the GJO operation. JAGA presidents John Tucker (1965), and Gene Cowan (1969) were GJO chairmen and others chaired various committees.  As a result of the contributions made to the GJO by JAGA members the tournament sponsor, Florida Publico Charities made the decision to include JAGA in the charity awards from the tournament. In 1966 $1,000.00 went to JAGA and the amount was repeated in following years.

Another donation to JAGA came as a result of the tournament although not from the tournament itself. As the story goes, Jack Nicklaus gave a television interview and after it was finished he was advised that he would get a check for $500.00 for his appearance. Knowing Gene was involved with JAGA, he turned to Gene Cowan and asked if JAGA had a junior program and, when Cowan confirmed that the program existed, gave the money to JAGA. Like the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished, this contribution and the forth-coming money from the tournament charity created a problem. JAGA had no legal means of accepting and using such donations. The problem was solved when Judge John Santora developed a corporate structure that would allow JAGA to handle all such “problems “ in the future.

The sixties appear to be the period when it was appropriate to recognize all sorts of achievements with awards. Dr. George Nutter (1962), Ed Bell (1964), Judge John Santora and Mayor Ritter (1965) were named Honorary Members. Judge Santora was recognized for his work in setting up the organization to be allowed to handle charitable contributions that allowed the start of the current and very successful scholarship program.

Also recognized during this period were Robert Feagen and John Tucker for their efforts in starting up the Greater Jacksonville Open Golf Tournament (1967). Recognized for work within the JAGA organization were Esther Price (The Iron Horse Award 1965), Red Gossman was named permanent secretary in 1964 and in 1969 was awarded the first Red Gossman award. This award recognized the best effort of the year by a JAGA director and the trophy went to the home club of the honoree for a year.

During the sixties JAGA recognized the achievements of several golfers other than those recognized at the GJO banquet and listed previously. In 1964 Gene Conner received Golfer of the Year honors and PGA pro Tony Greco was recognized for his work as PGA-JAGA co-coordinator for Pro-Am events. 1965 listed Myra Wood as lady and Ray Terry as male winners. In 1966 the PGA chapter indicated a desire to select the pro award and JAGA made the decision to eliminate the pro and the coach award. 1967 golfer of the year awards went to Joy Culverhouse and Harold Bishop and juniors Tammy Bowman and Harrison Nesbitt. Winners in 1968 were Julie Madison and Ray Terry, while both Dottie Pringle and Minnie Ponsel were recognized for the honor in 1969. No male golfer award is recorded for that year.

During this period the monthly pro-am continued with great success. (Perhaps it was too successful, as we can see later). Started in 1956, the event had been sponsored by JAGA and was operated by one of the member club pros. The first pro to operate the tournaments was Norrie Wright, then at Selva Marina CC. The proceeds of the tournament were cut 10% and the money went to promote the Public Links teams. Although there appears to have been other differences in a mostly satisfactory relationship, the PGA requested and held a joint meeting with JAGA in December 1966 to    ” resolve conflicts”. As a result of this meeting the responsibility for the pro-ams was split between JAGA and the PGA. Each body would run six events per year. The 10% cut of the entries would be split with 5% going to each association.

At the July 1967 meeting, based on an interpretation of USGA recommendations, it was decided to discontinue sponsorship of any event other than JAGA championships. This meant that JAGA would no longer sponsor the 6 pro-ams each year and that the PGA would assume responsibility for all pro-ams.

With the increase in members and activities, the Sixties stand out as another step toward refining the organization and preparing for even more growth in the future.

J.A.G.A. in the Seventies

JAGA continued to grow with the addition of nine new members in the 1970’s. Fort George entered the scene in 70. Lake City CC followed along in 71 with Nassau Ranch and Thousand Oaks coming on board in 1973. Amelia Island Plantation was a new member in 74 and   Sawgrass CC shows 75 as a starting date. The 70’s year with the most new members was 1976 welcoming Quail Heights, Reynolds Park and Starke into the organization.

The 70’s showed the loss of several very active directors led by Past President Gabe Summers in 1974 and Past President Henry Kramer and Secretary Red Gossman in 1975.

Programs started in this period of the 70’s include the practice of scheduling a golf outing/dinner event honoring JAGA Past Presidents and other long time dedicated members. The first of such meetings was held at Timuquana CC in November of 1973. It was during this period that the practice of paying off prize money at meetings with golf balls and later pro shop gift certificates.

The established annual tournaments continued to be successful with good participation .The Seniors and the Mixed were very popular with the Seniors drawing full fields of 184 golfers and the Mixed fielding over 100 teams each year. In 1974 Ralph Ghioto was recognized for chairing the Senior event for 17 years. In 1970 a Men’s Four Ball Championship was added to the schedule. In 1971 a spring mixed two-ball was added to the annual schedule in addition to the very popular fall event. Also in 1971 the practice started to give the winner of the JAGA City Amateur a spot in the Greater Jacksonville Open. In 1973 the City Amateur played to a field of 73 golfers and the 1974 JAGA Women’s Championship played to a field of 96 ladies.

A new tournament started in 1974, the Father-Son Championship was very successful from the start with 48 teams and continues to this date as the Fathers Day Tournament. In 1975 JAGA scheduled the first match play competition between amateurs and pros at Sawgrass Country Club. The Hillyer Cup continued until the PGA Cup came on the scene with basically the same Pro versus Amateur format but with much higher qualifying requirements for the players.

Also in 1975 a new tournament was added to the schedule. PP Marvin Duncan chaired the first Handicap Tournament, a net score event with the players flighted by club handicaps. Getting a start 1n 1978 and endorsed and supported by JAGA was the Gator Bowl Pro-am chaired for many years by JAGA PP Henry Tuten. Events that were not successful over the years include a Tournament of Champions for both men and women pitting each member club champions against each other.

Scholarship activity began in the 70’s. In 1970, JAGA ventured into the charity golf field by co-sponsoring a tournament for the benefit of Jacksonville University scholarships. The tournament ran successfully for several years. In addition, JAGA contributed directly to the JU scholarship fund. It was in 1974 that the scholarship program we have in effect to this date got its start. In addition to the JAGA Scholarship Trust established that year, the Gabe Summers JAGA scholarship Trust was established. Both are active today and contributing to the scholarship program.

Also, it was in 1971 the first of many very successful Junior Banquets held in conjunction with the GJO (Greater Jacksonville Open – now the Players) at the old Thunderbird Motel in Arlington. Junior banquets and outings were a most successful event during this period. The events were held in timing with the Greater Jacksonville Open and the touring pros attended as speakers and interacted with the young golfers. Some of the more prominent players to make an appearance were Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lionel Hebert and others. Attendance was very strong, with 180-200 youths at an outing at Beauclerc CC in and 400 at the banquet in 1975.

Action in the Eighties

The Eighties membership increased by five organizations during this period. In 1980 the North Florida Seniors joined ranks as a member. The only other membership activity was in 1988. Julington Creek, Marsh Creek, and Cimarrone became members and JAGA welcomed the Dunes back into the organization

JAGA tournaments in the 80’s continued along much as they had in the previous years, plus the addition of the Inter-Club matches.

Attendance in tournaments was good with a field of 138 playing in the 1979 Handicap Tournament. During this period the popular ever Seniors tournament fielded 186 players. The Inter Club Team match play involved 16 member clubs with two matches per month. Each club fielded a ten-man team. Play was 2-man match, better ball

The JAGA Hillyer Cup (Club Pros versus Club Amateurs) continued. Later on the event changed to a North Chapter PGA tournament that continues to this day with an annual event at Timuquana CC.

Some fine-tuning of the tournaments resulted in the policy that all tournaments make a profit (Scholarships) and all tournament finances be handled by the JAGA Treasurer. Some past tournaments had been handles totally by the Chairpersons Tournament control on the golf course was enhanced by the 1988 purchase of radios for communication among the marshals and starters.

Programs or procedures that were established in 1981 included establishing the flat fee ($22.00) for the meeting to include lunch, golf and gift certificate prizes. Annual club dues were raised in 1981 from $50.00 to $75.00, and in 1987 the first JAGA director shirts were made available.

Junior golf and golf scholarship programs became more active in the eighties. Junior schedules includes as many as 27 play days plus the junior championship. The new JAGA Junior Golf organization JJGA was very active and chairperson Mary Krystyn of University CC reported scholarships were awarded to one women and one man on the Jacksonville University Golf Teams.

The old University Country Club became heavily involved in raising funds. In 1981 University president Lester Sanders matched the contributions to the scholarship fund from all the other clubs. JAGA spotters for NBC at the Tournament Players Championship during this period brought in Scholarship funds with $3,000.00 received in 1987.  In addition to other sources, Bob Law of Amelia Island made a $2,000.00 annual contribution and Paul Hahn’s trick artist show at Willow Lakes also brought in $834.00 for scholarships. In addition to providing spotters for the TPC, workers were also provided for the Senior TPC Tournament.

Closing out the Century

 Membership continued to grow in the 90’s as new golf facilities were added to the area. New members during this period include Suwanee CC in 1991. In 1994 new members were   Haile Plantation, Heritage Links and Ironwood. 1997 saw zero growth as Palm Coast became a member but Haile Plantation resigned. JAGA Officers and Directors worked hard to prevent the closing down of the Fort George golf course but were not successful. JAGA was ready to enter the 21st century with 50+ members covering a wide area of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.

Other activities approved to improve the efficiency of the organization-included omission of multiple vice president positions and replacing them with committee chairman assignments. Another change involving by-laws eliminated the mileage limit for membership. Directors receiving the Red Gossman award during this period were Fred Seely, Joe Lettman and Al Hospers.

Tournaments during this period experienced some interesting ups and downs. The very popular “city amateur” had a drop-off of attendance while the Father Son tournament started out strong with teams numbering in the 60’s but falling off into the 40’.

The Mixed Two Ball Tournaments all continued strong (2 per year) with attendance of over 200 golfers at each event Eleanor and I retired after ten years as chairs of the tournament.

The rapidly growing scholarship program underwent some changes during this period. A committee of Past Presidents made an extensive study of the program and submitted a report on recommendations for changes. The JAGA directors acted on the recommendations and developed additional ways to improve and expand the programs.

A program to provide golf equipment to juniors was successful with Baymeadows alone collecting 3600 balls, 8 bags, 73 clubs, 2000 tees and 12 new golf caps.

During the nineties emphasis appears to have been placed on scheduling guest speakers at the meetings. The subject always involved golf in some form. Representatives from the Ladies PGA, the Senior P.G.A., the USGA, the FSGA TPC, plus local PGA club Professionals spoke on several occasions. Speakers also covered the golf programs at Jacksonville University, University of Florida and the University of North Florida. Additional subjects included golf course architecture and history. The speakers also covered sport psychology and golf health, and a snakebite expert. TV and Print Journalists also spoke on their area of golf coverage to round out the varied fields of interest in 1999.

The list of speakers during this period included: Hugh Dunn, Gary Hurst and Ladd Daniels (TPC), Mark Mills and Tom Brady (Sports Psychology), UF Buddy Alexander, and UNF Buddy Brooks (golf programs), Matt Cooney TV and Chris Smith TU talked about sports coverage, Dick Bowers WGV plans, Harvey Campbell WGV Hall of fame, Fred Seeley (FSGA), Bobby Weed (Donald Ross history), Jim McCumber on golf course design,

Unfortunately, minutes of the 1998 and 1999 years are still missing and we must end out visit with JAGA in the 20th century. As any further information is available it will be included in future up-dates of this book.

So, as we close out the 20th century, the Jacksonville Area Golf Association stands strong and ready to carry forth into the future. From an initial group of nine clubs sharing a desire for developing a championship tournament and the hope of developing junior golf programs we find an organization of almost fifty clubs (there have been over 77 member organizations over the years), providing championship tournaments for over 40,000 golfers, awarding college scholarships for 25 to 35 students each year, providing over $3,000,000.00 in revenue to member clubs, and otherwise doing everything possible to maintain and improve the quality of golf in Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

It had been a privilege and a real pleasure to have been “on board” for a goodly portions of the trip.

Yours in Golf,

 

Earl Kelly PP ’73

Officers

Since the beginning, the business of the organization has been conducted by the elected officers, acting as a board of directors, or executive committee. Originally the officers were replaced yearly and in later years the terms were extended to two years.

The first election of officers included a President, a Vice-President and a Secretary-Treasurer for a three-member board. Soon after, the position of secretary-treasurer was split to individual secretary and treasurer. Over the years various presidents appointed vice president positions to what were normally considered committee chairperson jobs. This resulted in as many as four vice presidents listed in some years.

A great number of men and women have contributed thousands of hours of time to JAGA. At the end of this history are all those that I have been able to locate in our records. It does not include many who have chaired our tournaments and our junior golf programs who did not become officers.

Presidents and Clubs

JAGA was started in 1954 with a mixture of private country clubs, municipal golf courses and military golf courses. Over the following years additional private clubs, semi-private clubs and resort clubs entered the mix. Integration eliminated the municipal course; they were replaced by public courses. JAGA’s first president came from one of the original three private country clubs; Timuquana. The next two presidents represented the other two private clubs, Beuaclerc produced Henry Kramer and Duane Cann represented San Jose. JAGA then closed out the fifties with presidents representing the two municipal courses; Ralph Ghioto of Brentwood and Gabe Summers of Hyde Park.

The sixties brought forth presidents representing the military courses with Frank Hyer of NAS and Russ Hill of Cecil Field. Brentwood then got back in the rotation with Marvin Duncan and the new Hidden Hills with Gary Holmes and Selva Marina with Erwin Teague took office. The original private country clubs also saw action with Gene Cowan, Henry Tuten and Jude Joseph from San Jose plus Beauclerc’s Sonny Miller.

In the seventies private clubs provided all of the presidents. The hold on the job by the original “big three” was broken by the election of presidents for the first time from Hidden Hills, University and Deerwood, plus one each from Beauclerc, San Jose and Timuquana.

A change to two year terms in 1987 cut back the number of presidents. We had two semi private, one municipal and five private clubs represented during this period of the 1980′s.

JAGA then finished out the century with one semi private and four private clubs providing the presidents.

Over the forty-six years in the 20th century we show 29 private, 6 municipal and 2 military organizations providing the presidents. Of the 29 private clubs the original three provided a president only 13 times.

Monthly Meetings

Since the beginning, JAGA has maintained a schedule of monthly business meetings.

For the first year, monthly meetings were held at the George Washington Hotel in downtown Jacksonville with two exceptions. The May 1954 meeting was a luncheon meeting at Beauclerc CC and the September 1954 meeting was held at NAS Jax. The directors enjoyed a round of golf as guests of the hosts after each meeting.

The June 1955 meeting at Timuquana Country Club represented the start of the monthly meetings held at member facilities with golf and continues to date. There were very few exceptions to this schedule over the years. These meetings included lunch and golf, but no competition was scheduled, the directors made up their own foursomes and there were no prizes involved. It was much later that the organized tournament setup was adopted.

Over the years an effort was made to schedule the meetings equally thru out the member clubs. Every club was given the opportunity to host a meeting.

As lost minutes are found, the missing information will be added

Additional Remembrances

JAGA has been involved in so very many programs and events worth reporting.

In the process of researching for this book I came across items that seemed worth some special attention.  Fred Seely was kind enough to publish some of these in the North Florida Golf news and others are just something I felt was worth recording.

The Mixed Two Ball

The Greater Jacksonville Open

Seniors Championship Tournament

Father-Son Tournament

1962 Review by Gabe Summers, JAGA PP

The Scholarship Program

50th Anniversary notes (EK Talk at Oak Bridge)

I haven’t covered all the events I plan to as yet. The most successful JAGA City Amateur that has been running continuously since 1962 is one that needs to be written as soon as I can.

Hope you enjoy this extra section highlighting some special areas of JAGA’s history.

When the Mixed was a Major Event

Does anyone remember the hey day of the Jacksonville Area GA Mixed Two Ball?

It was an event that ran for 45 consecutive years—two tournaments per year most years—played 14,000 or more golfers—contributed over $20,000.00 to Junior Golf—– Golfers scheduled vacations to play in the event    –They called it the “hit and giggle’, the “divorce open” and still they came and played!   In its day, it was an example of how much fun golf can really be—how one can meet and make life-long friends thru this wonderfully frustrating game.

Golfers looked forward to a weekend getaway of golf and fun. Back in the older days St Augustine closed down after Labor Day and the players enjoyed some of the best events during this period. Ponce gave reduced rates for the rooms and most everyone stayed at the Ponce. Most restaurants in St Augustine were closed but that only added to the fun because many country clubs groups rented special party rooms that were stocked with food and beverages. Everyone visited each other’s rooms and it was almost like New Years Eve in September on Friday and Saturday nights. (Most everyone played a practice round on Friday, making it a three-day event). On Saturday night the cocktail party was the occasion for the ladies to put on their best dresses and the men to don coats and ties to enjoy the heavy hot and cold h’ouvres and open bar.

Just for “auld lang syne” lets review some of what happened over the years.  Let’s hope the party isn’t over just yet!

The St. Augustine Mixed Two Ball Tournament came into being in September 1958, Ponce de Leon Resort and Golf Club offered to provide their historic golf course. The field included 81 teams with an entry fee of $10.00 per team.

The next five years continued to be a success and in 1963 Esther Price took over the Chair and reported a field of 96 Teams with 10 on a waiting list.

This marked the start of a long history of successful tournaments chaired by Esther and Ralph Price. In 1965 Esther was named as permanent Mixed two Ball Chairperson and continued in that capacity until 1988. Ralph continued to provide the outstanding scoreboards that were far ahead of the scoreboards of that day. (Ralph’s artwork involving windy days and flowing skirts was a scoreboard feature). During this period the tournament grew to such a success that starting in 1972 two tournaments per year (spring and fall) were played. In some cases the spring tournament was scheduled at Palatka or Amelia Island but generally both events were played at “The Ponce”.   During this period the entry fee grew from the initial $10.00 to $100.00 in 1988.

All went well with full fields year after year until 1984 when the untimely death of Ralph broke up the team. For the next few years Ralph Jr. filled in but in 1988 Esther decided that she did not want to continue and she asked my wife and me to chair the event.

Eleanor and I continued with the tournaments for the next ten years, mixing Amelia Long Point, Osprey Cove, Palatka and Heritage Links with the “Ponce” for tournament locations. The entries continued to be strong with 120 teams playing at Osprey Cove on two occasions. For whatever reason, participation slowed after 1995.

After chairing 10 years and 19 Mixed two Ball tournaments the Kelly’s advised JAGA that they could not continue as chairmen. The following years tournaments were scheduled at Ponce and Fernandina Beach, Osprey Cove and Orange Park CC. The tournaments attracted smaller and smaller fields until the 2004 event was cancelled for lack of enough entries to make it a real tournament.

This year JAGA has scheduled a return to the Ravines for the 2005 event. Although the course is one of the most difficult in the area to score on, it certainly has some endearing features in the different type of layout and the very beauty of the view from almost all the holes. In addition, Ravines has made rooms available for those who wish to stay and play, just like the good ole days!

Realistically, the tournament will never again reach the interest level of the 60’s thru the 80’s when fields of more than 100 teams were filled within one week of the mailing of invitations.  Fortunately, those who have experienced the “Mixed” will have some great memories of being part of a once in a lifetime experience. Let’s all hope that 2005 will be the “turn around year” that will allow JAGA to continue on with this once most successful event.

It wasn’t “PLAYERS” when it started

With all the press and excitement around the Players Championship, let’s not forget the daddy of it all, the Greater Jacksonville Open. There is probably no other event in the history of Jacksonville sports that brings out the story of the real heart of our city and it’s an example of what can be done with an idea and a lot of good hard work by a great number of men and women.

Back in 1976, the PGA was still trying to find the right location for what was then called the Tournament Players Championship. It had floated around but the Tour wanted a permanent place. Word was out that the next move would be to Orlando and this got a group of Jacksonville golfers led by John Tucker and Wes Paxson into the act. After what must have been some very serious negotiations, a decision was reached to schedule the event at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra in 1977. One wonders just what triggered the decision to bring the tournament to Jacksonville. Possibly a most important plus involved the successful operation of the local event. The GJO’s established leadership, volunteers and other local support personnel had the experience, and were ready to handle the event. With local operations taken care of, almost all the Tour needed to do was show up with the golfers.

Let’s look back over the years and see how this all developed.

It wasn’t easy! Through the efforts of many, many, interested citizens led by Robert Feagin and John Tucker a first-rate professional golf tournament was planned and scheduled for Jacksonville. Feagin, the president of the Jacksonville newspaper, was greatly impressed by the Masters and felt that Jacksonville could produce a similar event. He enlisted Tucker, a telephone company executive, and others who turned the dream into a reality.

The GJO is one of these stories that we should never forget. It was a “local boy makes good” story from the start. The first event was scheduled for Deerwood but late in the game it was determined that the tournament could not be played there. Through some hard work and cooperation among all those involved, Selva Marina stepped up to the tee and provided the home for the first GJO. This was an early example of the spirit of cooperation between members of all our Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association member clubs that continued throughout the years.

The tournament debuted in 1965. I remember the Wednesday pro-am was a beautiful day for golf but the weather changed by Sunday when the winds came in from the northeast and the pros were hitting driver on the par three 9th hole. (Persimmon drivers, you can be sure). It was during the GJO at Selva that Jack Nicklaus holed out his second shot on the par five No.18 for double eagle while on a TV camera for a “first in golf”. Jack did some color TV after finishing and learned that he had $500 coming for his appearance. He immediately found committeeman Gene Cowan and handed him the check as a donation for JAGA’s junior golf program.

After two years at Selva, the tournament moved to Deerwood where the operation was further refined and continued to grow in community involvement. A big party tent was erected for the spectators and The Swingers Tent became the place to see and be seen with the golfers dropping by and mingling with the spectators. Who can forget stopping by for an adult beverage and finding the Tour brothers Jay and Lionel Hebert playing with the band! Deerwood was the first location where the Navy provided sailors as marshals and crosswalk guards.  The tournament’s use of lady markers may have been originated at the GJO.  Many local organizations organized and coordinated these efforts and provided manpower for marshals and all the needed spots.

After three successful years at Deerwood, the event moved to Hidden Hills. This move provided some better tournament facilities with sponsor spaces available for the businesses that were used to entertain their customers and became a standard in future golf tournaments. Hidden Hills was the host for three years and then the GJO made one more move. Deerwood was destined to be the final home for the very successful tournament. Things were going great for the second time at that location but the opportunity to host the TPC event at Sawgrass was too much to pass up.

The GJO stimulated much interest to the young wannabe golfers in the area. During this period the Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association had the most growth in its junior golf programs. It’s no accident that juniors like Woody Blackburn, Tammy Bowman, Terry Catlett and Robert Harris and came on the horizon and later developed into real success stories on the national and local golf scene. Steve Melnyk started his career by winning the JAGA junior championship three years in a row, and Mark McCumber was just beginning to star and would win his first major tournament in the JAGA Junior.

JAGA was asked to provide some activities to involve junior golfers during the week of the tournament. A banquet was held at the old Thunderbird Motel on the Arlington Expressway, another place to be during the GJO as many of the golfers stayed there during the week.   All junior golfers were invited and the touring professionals were the speakers. Various awards were made at the dinner.

Arnold Palmer was among the pros entertaining several hundred youths with a golf clinic at the old Beauclerc Country Club. The GJO became an intimate part of the Jacksonville golf scene. In addition to supporting the annual JAGA junior banquet, the tournament awarded a slot in the tournament to the winner of the JAGA Men’s Championship.

The Greater Jacksonville Open will always remain more than just a pleasant memory for a great many Jacksonville folks who worked the tournament or who just shared in the event. It’s a time that will most probably never happen again. Jacksonville playing a part in the startup of the next major tournament makes it all seem worthwhile.

50 Years later, the Cup Survives! (April 2008 NFGN)

It’s Golden Anniversary time for the Jacksonville Area GA Senior Championship, the oldest continuous tournament in North Florida.

It all started this way:

In 1957, there was no tournament for senior golfers to compete against their age peers so a tournament was set up for seniors only at Ponte Vedra. Al Ulmer of Timuquana, then the Florida State GA champion, bested 176 others and the event was considered enough of a success that JAGA determined to provide a first-class senior event annually.

It was decided that such a tournament would need a first class trophy and commissioned a committee to find donors for a trophy with a value of $150. The committee was further required to determine a local person to be recognized with his name on the trophy and it came down to eight men.

The selection was Frank Rogers, an active and effective supporter of golf and, in fact, other sports in the area. He was part of the Stockton family that owned the Ponte Vedra Inn and was its manager. He was also well known for his efforts to promote golfing events. It seems to have been a good marriage – both the tournament and the original Frank Rogers trophy are still going strong after 50 years.

The first official Seniors was played on March 8-9, 1958 at San Jose. The minimum age of 50 was established and there were three flights: 50-59,60-69 and over 70. While the “youngsters” played both rounds at San Jose, the 80-year-olds were scheduled to play 9 hole rounds at neighboring Beauclerc CC. Edward A. Stephens of Gainesville CC was the winner and his name was the first on the Frank Rogers Cup.

The first tournament was chaired by Gabe Summers, a former JAGA president and owner of the Five Points Men’s Shop who furnished (at cost) the blazers awarded to the champions over the years. He’s most generally recognized for his $125,000 bequest to the then-new JAGA scholarship fund.

An added touch that had great appeal to the players was the cocktail party and award ceremony after the second round. Players and “their ladies” were invited. Just as a reminder of how it was in “the good old days”, the entry fee of $12 covered two rounds of golf, prizes and the cocktail party!

In 1959, Ralph Ghioto, a Prudential Insurance agent and another past JAGA president, became involved and carried the torch as chairman for 32 years until 1992. In addition to his long tour of duty as Seniors chairman, Ghioto spent an equally long period as USGA regional representative for the Public Links Championship and its local qualifying.

The tournament quickly jumped to an annual field of 50-75 players. In the late 1960′s, the field had grown to the point that one course would not handle the number of players so, in 1972, the entry age was raised to 51 and an additional year was added each year until a minimum age of 55 was required.

In addition, the tournament was scheduled at two courses each day, with each golfer playing both courses. Through the early 1980′s, a full field of 184 seniors made the tournament the area’s biggest event.

Over the 50 years, there have been winners representing 20 different golf clubs with NAS leading with 11 champions and San Jose running a close second with nine winners.

It would seem that, in an age-sensitive event, the younger players would have an advantage over the more seasoned golfers. Over the 50-year history of the JAGA Seniors, however, that has not always been the case. For instance, Vernon Ray of San Jose won six championships from 1968-80. Another long stretch of wins was produced by Bill Scarborough of NAS with his six titles over 11 years from 1982-92.

Three-times winners have been Frank Heyer of NAS, Wally Mizell of Hyde Park, and Wes Paxson Jr. of St Johns G&CC. With two championships: Jim Kinder of NAS and Jim Kuhn of Magnolia Point.

Through all the years the grand prize has been the Frank Rogers trophy. Unlike many “permanent” trophies that eventually get lost, the original trophy has lasted for all these 50 years and will be on display at Eagle Harbor this month.

For many years the champion was also awarded a jacket and later changes included the award of a championship medal. The prize situation eventually arrived at the present practice of awarding gift certificates and trophies.

The entry age was eventually returned to 50 and today the tournament has flights at the original 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus. For a few years an 80-and-over flight was offered but the response did not justify continuing with that division

With the loss of Ghioto’s leadership the tournament showed signs of falling off and the field was reduced. When an arrangement with the then-new Eagle Harbor course was reached, the tournament started on the climb back towards the successes of the past. This month will see a field of about 100 eager to be recognized with their name added to the list of winners on the Frank Rogers Trophy.

In addition to being a championship test the event offers another opportunity for Jacksonville senior golfers to socialize and also to compete in a first class tournament at a great golf course.

Happy Fathers Day!!     (NFGN Article)

On June 24-25 JAGA will be presenting the 33rd annual golf tournament honoring our golfing fathers. Over these years this tournament has brought out many good memories for hundreds of fathers and sons, plus in later years fathers and daughters.

It all started back in 1973, the same year JAGA established the scholarship program that has served us so well for these 33 years. Deerwood director Joe Lettman approached me with the idea to hold an annual father-son golf tournament.  As president, I supported his plan and asked Joe to submit his plan to the directors at the next meeting. At the October 16 meeting at   University C.C., the plan was presented, and received 100% approval from the directors for a June 1974 schedule.

Fortunately, we had the interest and involvement of Beauclerc pro Norrie Wright and Beauclerc Country Club to push and prod the event. Wright was also very active in several other phases of Junior Golf at that time. This team of Lettman and Wright put together a plan for a real first class event to kick off the first of what was to be a long series of successful tournaments. The two-day tournament was played at Beauclerc on June 20, 21 1974.

Something novel about the tournament was that all receipts were designated for the newly established Junior Scholarship Trust Fund. All tournament costs were covered by Beauclerc CC and sponsor’s gifts and all the entry fee money went to pay for scholarships. You can imagine what a real boost this was for the new scholarship program. This lasted only a few years, however, before the contribution to the scholarship fund became the regular share of the entry fees.

That first tournament fielded 48 teams and resulted in a contribution of $1,203.00 to the Scholarship Fund. The second year topped out with 62 teams and a standby list, and the contribution to the scholarship fund grew accordingly (in 1979 the contribution was $2400.00). Over the years many JAGA member clubs became involved in hosting the event. For several years the tournament was played on two courses, a different course each round

The original tournament was composed of teams of fathers and sons. In the early years a great many of the teams were mid-am age fathers and very young sons. Over the years the ages of the average teams grew to involve senior fathers and mid-am age sons. From this beginning, the tournament gradually evolved to the format played the last few years. The tournament name has been changed to Fathers Day Championship Tournament and a team can consist of fathers and son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, stepson or stepdaughter etc.

Don and Cliff Freidman of Beauclerc were the Father-Son Champions in the inaugural event. Looking back over the years we find some familiar names that have had some success in the tournament. (My records are not complete for every year, so I know I’m missing some names.) Eventually, I hope to list all the winners in our History of JAGA book. The #1 world ranked golfer David Duval (then an amateur) teamed with Timuquana pro father Bob to win the pro division in 1987. In the same tournament, Pablo Creek Pro (still an amateur) Richie and his father Dewey Bryant won the amateur title. Other familiar father son winning combos from the past include: Two time pro division winners were Duane /Todd Bork of San Jose, Bill/Hugh McCracken of Marsh Creek, and in later years Jim Laudenslager/ Zack Linsey

Other winners include Rex/Scott Frye; Rex/Mike Frye; Rod/Mike Ellison (3 wins); Wendell /Jimmy Prevatt. It was interesting to me to note that JAGA current Senior Champion and his most able golfing father were runners-up twice, Wes Sr. and Wes Paxson lost out to the Fryes by three tenths of a point in 1980, and by two shots to Joe and Jerry Labarbera in1975.  Another team that didn’t win but produced two successful golfing professionals was Clyde Blackburn with Woody / Mike. It’s difficult to think that Mike is now planning for the SENIOR PGA tour.

The tournament was so popular that some fathers entered more than one team and played with two or more sons at the same time. The Ellisons and the Fryes come to mind as having multiple son teams. There have also been combinations of Father, Son and Grandson. As for me, I’ve played with sons and grandson and am looking forward to hanging around long enough to play with a great grandson. AIN’T GOLF GREAT?

The tournament is scheduled at Hidden Hills CC on June 24,25 this year and is expected to have another full field. Entry forms are available at all golf courses, in this issue of the Golf News and on the Internet at jaxareagolfassn.com. As always, revenue from the tournament goes to support the scholarship fund and the 20+ students now in school.

Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association

Back in 1954 when JAGA got started they made a decision that has been a winner over the past fifty odd years. At the very first meeting they decided to invite the JWGA to become a member. Fortunately, the ladies decided to join and have been active in some way over many of those years.  Esther Price, for example, served as JAGA Treasurer from 1961 until 1978.

From the very start, JWGA members were involved in starting up the very popular City Mixed Two Ball Tournament. Then when the Ponce Deleon suggested a Mixed Two ball Tournament in St Augustine the ladies jumped right in and chaired it for the first few years and then JW P. President Esther (and Ralph) Price were Chairs for the next 19 years. Next came JW P. Pres. Eleanor (and Earl) Kelly took over for another 10 years, all with great success. It doesn’t seem fair to point out that since that time the tournament has not prospered and was finally cancelled from the schedule last year. It seems like the mixed just took a woman’s touch!

In 1973 when JAGA initiated a scholarship program for our youth the JWGA representative Emily Brown immediately pledge a contribution and, at the next regular meeting, presented a check that was raised at the JWGA meeting. This check was literally the first money to be deposited in the newly created scholarship fund account that currently is financing over 20 youths for a four-year scholarship.

After it was decided that JAGA directors would only be members of organizations with a golf course JAGA continued to maintain contact by inviting the current JW President to attend and participate in the regular meetings. In recent years this practice has not continued. Perhaps we should consider JA and JW getting together again and just maybe the” Ladies touch” would be all that’s needed to get the Mixed two ball back on the calendar, playing 120 teams in a double shotgun format just like it was in the “good ole’ days”

The JAGA Scholarship Story

From the very beginning in 1954, JAGA has promoted Junior Golf as a primary interest. Surprisingly, a scholarship program did not come into being until twenty years later.

The scholarship program got its start at a regular meeting at University Country Club on September 18, 1973. Deerwood Director Joe Lettman proposed that we initiate such a program.   Joe was fresh from New York where he had been involved in some successful scholarship programs and he thought we should have one in Jacksonville. I was president at that time and I recall there was much enthusiasm from our directors. At that meeting I announced the formation of a Junior Scholarship Fund Committee with Joe as chairman.

At the October meeting the Jacksonville Women’s GA (a regular JAGA member at that time), confirmed their enthusiasm by advising that they would have a “fund   raiser” to kick things off.  There is no recorded activity on scholarships for the balance of the year, as November was the inaugural Past President’s meeting and there was no meeting in December.

January 1974 kicked off a busy year with the announcement that the JAGA Scholarship Fund charitable trust was officially established with $650.00 in the fund.  This money was still a regular JAGA account. Because of his work with junior golfers I appointed Roland Hurley as the initial chairman of the trust. During this period there were actually two working units that eventually became the actual Scholarship Trust once all the legal details were completed. The committee that was formed in September 1973 with Lettman remained active as a planning unit and developed the Trustee program, as we know it today.

In February JWGA presented a check for  $150.00 to the scholarship fund. It was announced that $1170.00 had been pledged to the fund to date and, in action that is still current, a motion was approved to collect $1.00 from each tournament entry for this program.

The March meeting agenda was dedicated to discussions of the scholarship program. Representatives from Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida attended the meeting. It was determined that more information was needed before the program could be finalized .A goal was set for a June final report. A scholarship Tournament was scheduled at Hidden Hills to raise funds.

By May, much progress had been made.  The Scholarship tournament at Hidden Hills raised $3400.00.  Lettman reported that the application for tax exemption was filed and, possibly more important, an account had been opened at the Marine bank using the check from JWGA given at the February meeting. The first contribution from a JAGA tournament was $184.00 from the 184 entries in the Senior Championship Tournament

June found newly elected   President Harvey Jarchower starting off his term by emphasizing a “big interest in developing the scholarship fund”. It was at this meeting that I reported the death of Past President and scholarship committee member Gabe Summers. We didn’t know it at the time, but at the July meeting   we learned that Gabe had left an amount of approximately $122,000.00 for the JAGA scholars in his will.

Of great help in getting started was our first Father Son tournament in June. Beauclerc CC donated all their services so that all receipts went to the scholarship program. Receipts from the first annual Father-Son tournament amounted to $1203.00, giving a total of $1545.62 in the account.

With all the details worked out the first official operating Junior Scholarship Trustees went to work in August 1974. The first official Trustees included Joe Lettman and Dick Doeschler as Founding Trustees plus Emily Brown, Marvin Duncan, Ralph Ghioto, Roland Hurley, Earl Kelly and Henry Tuten.  Until his retirement from the position, Lettman selected the Trustees that would serve. Currently, the by-laws provided that the current JAGA officers would also be Trustees.

It didn’t take long to get the program going! Less than one year from the formation of the initial committee JAGA was able to establish a new organization outside the framework of JAGA, incorporate the new organization, get a tax exemption status approved, raise initial funds, establish fund raising continuity, and actually award the very first scholarship. It was quite a foundation for what has developed into an outstanding program.

Financing the program didn’t come easy. Different sources were found to meet the needs at different times over the past 32 years. The very first contribution came from a bake sale held by the Jacksonville Women’s Golf Association. Also contributing from the start was the Father-Son Tournament that started the same year. Thanks to the Pro Norrie Wright and the Beauclerc CC members, the tournament contributed all entry fee money to the scholarship fund for several years, averaging over $2,000.00 per year, and for several years the Greater Jacksonville Open awarded $2,000.00 per year. Since then all JAGA tournaments contribute a portion of the entry fees. In 1974 Scholarship Committee member Gabe Summers contributed an amount valued at $122,000.00 to scholarships in his will. The earnings from this money continues to contribute to the program, while the principle is untouched.

Since that time hundreds of young people have received a total of over $1,000,000.00 in assistance. What started out with an amount of $250.00 per semester has grown to $1,500.00 per semester for 8 semesters (four years) of undergraduate work. The students have gone on to careers as greens superintendents, club managers, professional golfers and most any other occupation you can think of. An interesting result of the program has a JAGA member club, Sawgrass Country Club, employing JAGA scholarship students in the major positions of Golf Professional Ed Tucker and Greens Superintendent Matt Durkee.

In the thirty-five years since that August the current Trustee Chairman has contributed the bulk of the work handling the scholarships. The Trustees were involved in selecting the students but the Chairman realistically handled the day-by-day operation. For many of those years Joe Lettman continued to chair the committee until Ed Witten, also a Deerwood director took over the reins. The current scholarship Chairman is San Jose Director Tom Tierney.

So, as we close out the 20th century, the Jacksonville Area Golf Association stands strong and ready to carry forth into the future. From an initial group of nine clubs sharing a desire for developing a championship tournament and the hope of developing junior golf programs we find an organization of almost fifty clubs, providing championship tournaments, awarding college scholarships for 25 to 30 students each year, and otherwise doing everything possible to maintain and improve the quality of golf in Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

JAGA Junior Golf

JAGA has maintained a strong and continuing interest in junior golf since the organization was founded in 1954. At the organizational meeting held on June 24, 1954 Dr. Chas Hillyer outlined the purpose for forming the organization ( JAGA). He gave four basic reasons and listed the “Promotion of city-wide interest in junior golf” as the very first reason.

From that start, the promotion (and operation) of junior golf has been a very important part of JAGA’s programs. During the first few years’ committees to study junior programs were formed.

The first tournament, over 54 holes medal play, was contested at Hyde Park on August 28, 1957. Round two followed at San Jose CC on August 29, with the final round at Beauclerc CC on August 30. JAGA records do not give us the number of entries or the winners.

In the following years continued efforts were made to improve the tournament. Over the years other JAGA tournaments contributed $1.00 per player to help cover the costs, the sale of handicap cards provided some revenue and some organizations also provided financial support to make the program strong.

In 1963 a decision was made to reduce the tournament to the current 36-hole format.   On June 13 and 14, 1963 the tournament was played at Hyde Park GC with a field of 160 players. (Hyde Park was named Pine Tree GC for a short period)

The tournament was a great success in the early years and quite a few familiar names emerge when we review the winners and players in the “JAGA Junior”. The list is most impressive and I’m sure I have missed some one or two. Mike and Woody Blackburn, Tammy Bowman, Terry Catlett, Robert Harris, Mark Mc Cumber, Steve Melnyk.

Steve Melnyk won the 1963 tournament. Steve came back and won in 1964 and he completed the hat trick by winning for a third straight time in 1965. The trophy was retired and awarded to Steve that year. The following year a new Trophy, donated by Claude Nolan was presented to the winner.

Digging back through the Sixties golf history we have noted that this seems to have been a time in Jacksonville golf history where the junior golfer activity brought forth some strong golfers.  The combination of Golf pro teachers like Roland Hurley of old Brentwood and Beauclerc’s Norrie Wright who worked with the youths, and others just has to be a contributing factor!

During this period the JAGA youth programs were at their peak. The combination of the Award banquet for the youth held at the old T’bird during the GJO plus outings at Beauclerc featuring Pros like Arnold palmer, Gary Player etc made the sport a little more interesting and may have helped stoke the fires.

JAGA can well be proud of all the Directors who have spent so much time working with the junior programs aver the years. Things may change but there is still the need to help our youth understand what a great game this golf is.

JAGA vs. the PGA

(We will have occasional remembrances of golf in Jacksonville by area people and here’s the first. It’s from Fred Seely, who was Jacksonville Area GA president in 1983.)

A major conflict between JAGA and the local chapter of the PGA occurred in 1983 over use of golf courses for tournament play.

JAGA traditionally had been granted use of courses for a charge termed “cart fees,” which may or may not have been the posted cart fee but certainly was a low cost. That was the only agreed-upon cost, and any other purchases (gift certificates, food, etc.) were above and beyond.

The leaders of the JAGA Senior Championship traditionally had awarded clothing from the Five Points Men’s Shop as prizes, reflecting the association’s appreciation of the store’s owner, Gabe Summers, for his many contributions. A separate issue (but just as important) was the awarding of silver by the Jacksonville Women’s GA as tournament prizes. This silver was purchased through a local jewelry store.

The award ceremonies had to rankle the PGA pros, that made a substantial part of their living from merchandise sales. They were closing their courses for outside groups, helping conduct the tournaments and getting nothing for their aggravation and the effort.

The pros banded together and requested that all JAGA events would be charged the usual “cart fee” PLUS $15 per person per day in pro shop gift certificates. They made no stipulation about outside purchases (clothing, silver,) only that the additional $15 be spent for pro shop certificates.

I was president of JAGA and was given the request by a committee of pros including Chapter President Jim Kuhn of Fort George, Chris Blocker of Hyde Park and Ted Hopkins of Hidden Hills. It seemed more than reasonable and I agreed to take it to the Executive Committee with my recommendation that it be approved.

In a meeting at the office of Vice President Al Voss of Willow Lakes, I made the recommendation. There was agreement by me, Voss and treasurer Dana Haffke of Hyde Park but secretary Jim Callender of Selva Marina vehemently disagreed. He said that the PGA pro was only a club employee and that JAGA should only negotiate with club management, and demanded that the Executive Committee meet with the professional committee to discuss the matter.

That meeting was held about a week later at Hidden Hills. I can’t remember all who attended, but I certainly remember Blocker, Hopkins, Voss and Callender. The pros made their request in a gracious manner – there certainly was the implication that it also was a demand – and Callender repeated his earlier statements about the pros not having the power to make such decisions. His basis was his volunteer work with the United States GA, which was then (and less so now) an elitist organization that was dominated by people who ran their clubs the same way they ran their companies: their way.

While he had his right to his beliefs, Jim could have chosen his words and tone more carefully, and the meeting quickly degenerated into an argument – not over JAGA and tournaments, but over Callender’s assertions about the authority of the PGA professional

Jim was a retired colonel in the Marine Corps and spoke with the toughness that office certainly had demanded. In addition, everyone was fueled with the muscle building of the adult beverages that were being served to all, and the pros were insulted with the implications of their second-class citizenship.

Voss and I managed to get Callender out of the building just before things were about to go from bad to dangerous. (Jim was about 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds. Blocker and Hopkins were both over 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. They also were 20-plus years younger.)

The Executive Committee met again several days later, again at Voss’s office, and I made the motion to accept the proposal made by the PGA pros. Voss seconded and I called the question. At that point, Callender said the vote would be unanimous because he was resigning, which he promptly did. The results of all this carried implications beyond JAGA.

On JAGA’s part, all, including those who ran the Senior, surprisingly accepted the new payment. The extra $15 per person per day was tacked onto the entry fees, no complaints were received from the entrants and this agreement basically is in place today.

The pros, having won the battle, appreciated the stance that JAGA’s executive committee had taken despite having a member who was vehemently opposed to them, and went out of their way to make sure there would be a good relationship.

This exists to this day and among the clubs where JAGA is most welcomed are Hyde Park and Hidden Hills, where Blocker and Hopkins still sit in authority. Kuhn’s course closed and he went into private business, but he plays in JAGA championships (he regained his amateur status and is a past Senior champion) and lends support in every way.

Earl Kelly of Blue Cypress is a past JAGA president and serves as the associations historian.

 Listing of Officers - Prior Years (286)