Darke County Genealogical Researchers > Randolph County Indiana

The Evening Times, Tuesday, September 14, 1937
Transcribed by Billy J. Baker

Evolution Of Union City Golf -- The Parent Grove Country Club - 1910

What is now in 1937, "The Union City Country Club" started in 1910 at a point on the Ohio traction line where it crossed the Pennsylvania R. R. - the home of the Parent Gun Club at that time.

At that time the Pennsylvania Railroad was double-tracking the "Panhandle" division through Union City, and some Pittsburgh engineers were on the job. Howard McKown was one of them. With him was a big 6 foot engineer by the name of Landon. Both were go-getters, and to them we appealed for ideas, and they arranged to get a railroad section house located a few rods from the tennis courts.

On a certain day all agreed to be on hand to help move this house. A motley array of club members appeared, dressed in duck pants, overalls, caps, straw hats, sweaters, etc. and the picnic was on.

With block-and-tackle, crowbars, rails, rope, chewing tobacco and profanity, the house was lifted and started on its way.

After the building was in place, we built a veranda, and on the Fourth of July of that year a picture was taken of the members of the country club.

About this time a salesman from Crawford McGregor Co. at Dayton, Ohio, called on Sam Eichelbarger, a local jeweler, and said they were making golf clubs at their shoe-last factory. Sam had seen the game of golf once and liked it. Well, we decided to play golf.

The fact that the grove was full of trees never occurred to us. We layed out six holes on convenient level spots, rolled 'em, mowed 'em, and went to it. The catalogue said that the wooden clubs were for long shots, so we made two long holes for them.

And what a life! The tennis court was in the way, so was the club house and the gun club building. The grass in the rough and around the trees was twenty inches high. The railroad was too close for a left handed player, and the stumps were too high. Howard McKown, after his first shots was still behind the first tee, and they were all good shots. It was the stumps. Reno Welbourn spent 45 minutes looking for something in the tall grass before we found out it was his golf bag he was looking for.

Then came the caddies. They were told to walk ahead and get behind a tree. We didn't want to hurt any of our boys. One caddy was actually hit on the finger, and this little member of his anatomy was the only part of him visible from the tee. Another boy, not a caddy, had his nose broken while standing close back of a player trying to figure out what he was trying to do.

One day while wandering through the country, Sam Eichelbarger discovered "Bickel's High Banks," a beautiful pasture land of about 40 acres. It looked more like the golf course he had seen. A committee inspected the place, and it was rented. We made six holes, all on the north side of the Greenville Creek, because of the absence of bridges.

That winter (1911) Ira Bickel, who lived on the farm, and who had become interested in golf, volunteered to move our club house on skids, using his steam tractor. Eichelbarger said it couldn't be done. He had run a steam tractor himself, and it would barely pull its own weight. But Ira had a western type tractor, made to pull a gang of plows and he knew his tractor. The snow was thin, and the skids wore down to paper-thin on the trip of 5 miles, but everything else went O. K.

That was the end of the "Parent Grove Country Club" and the beginning of the "High Banks Country Club."

A new house, just a little bigger was built on the north bank of the creek and the porch off of the other club house was put around it. The railroad house was used for a tool house.

Later the ground was purchased for $200.00 an acre, and $21,000 was spent for a club house. The name was changed to "The Union City Country Club."

There are those alive who think that the old days of golf around 1912 were the happiest ones. There was a barbed wire fence around the pasture and cows and calves and a bull. The seven acres at the northwest corner where the club-house now stands was a cornfield. The course was crisscross with nine greens of blue grass. There were two sometimes three foot logs across the creek, and few women dared to cross the swaying, wiggling path. Women did not play. Men played in their old clothes, not their Sunday togs, because they had to be prepared to mow grass, roll the greens, chase the bull, or "play the ball where she lies, no matter where she lies."

Think of playing nine rounds of golf in one day. That's 81[18?] hours. It can be done - from daylight to moonlight - and many of the charter members had done it.

Now, in 1937, the course is more beautiful, and there's a big club house to go to, in case it rains. There are now ample bridges, no cows, a children's playground, a banquet hall and everything.

And there are a hundred live people in Union City who would join and enjoy the club - if they only had time to go out and see it.

----The author of this article was not identified.