I am not a historian.
I have never written a book.
In fact, I never thought about writing a book until 2004 when I began making retirement plans. I was acutely aware that the American Society of Golf Course Architects, which I had served for nearly 35 years as Executive Secretary, did not have anything resembling a history. Not good for a 60-year old organization, and some may even say it reflected poorly on the long-time Executive Secretary!
One day I flippantly remarked (as I am prone to do too often) that I had a perfect title for the book IF I ever decided to write it, Presidents I Have Known. Well, everyone agreed that it was a good title and encouraged me to start writing. When retirement rolled around, I did what all recent retirees do—travel! Also, I was in charge of my 50th Anniversary Reunion at Notre Dame, so nothing really was accomplished that first year.
Then I was reminded that the 2006 annual meeting in Pinehurst would be the 60th for ASGCA—a perfect time to introduce the book. Faced with a mid-October deadline, I immediately began to do the necessary research. I quickly found that this would be the most difficult part of the project. Reading nearly 60 years of minutes and going through old newsletters isn’t my idea of fun. After a week at the Milwaukee headquarters, I had a sore neck and carpal tunnel syndrome. I also had 115 pages of typed notes and was ready to begin.
Sandra kept me under lock and key for two months, providing encouragement, fact-finding and editing.
Again I must emphasize that this book is not what scholars would call a “history” of the Society. Yes, there are facts (and I hope 99% at least are correct). But the fun part has been to write my reflections of the “presidents I have known.” Each was different; each special in his or her own way. Much like the larger ASGCA family, the Society presidents are a creative, hard-working and fun-to-be-with group. The Society is truly “family” because of the limited numbers that allow you to get to know every member, and that has been a privilege through the years.
Since I am not a great detail person (although everyone who has worked with me say I micro manage!), I am most appreciative of the help that others have provided to help make this book a reality.
My wife, Sandra, has been the quarterback on the project from start to finish, even deciding on the size and designing the cover. This book is my gift to her, as well as to the Society.
My successor, Chad Ritterbusch, has made his entire staff available for this project and he has double-checked things for me when my dim memory has gone blank. Aileen Smith tracked down a publisher who would be interested in a short-run book and provided strong support during the editing phase; Therese Swenson continually came up with sought-after material in the files; and Christina Itzin spent hours compiling lists and dates. Without the help of the ASGCA headquarters team, I would not have been able to complete the project so quickly.
Geoffrey Cornish, our esteemed historian, and Ron Whitten, golf architecture editor of Golf Digest, have provided invaluable help along the way. Their book, The Architects of Golf, provided much-needed background information on all the ASGCA presidents. In addition, Geoffrey read the first draft and provided valuable feedback for final editing. Whitten, as only he could do, provided the lists of courses for the early presidents who are deceased. He also provided pictures from his personal file, another great help in developing the book. Brad Klein’s book, Discovering Donald Ross, provided excellent background on the Society’s Honorary President and the early years of course architecture in the U.S.
I leaned on two members of the Old Guard—Dave Gordon and Fred Garbin—for their recollections of the early years. Their first-hand commentaries add the personal touch that I could not provide for the first 25 years of the Society.
All the living presidents sent their lists and anecdotes to help humanize each year’s report. I thank them—one and all.
Again, in my mind, this is more a story book than a history book. Personally, it gave me one final opportunity to tell a few of the interesting stories that I was part of during the past 35 years. And, I love stories, especially about golf course “artichokes!”
Of all the clients I worked with over 44 years in the public relations business, I readily admit that the ASGCA was my favorite account. I probably spent too much time with ASGCA members, possibly to the detriment of my company, but it was worth it. I have formed life-long friendships with so many great people. I love the Society and I hope it shows on the pages of this book.
Executive Secretary Emeritus
ASGCA Executive Secretary 1970-2004