About this time of year, people begin to get the “itch” for spring and outdoor activities. They believe they have endured months of winter-like weather. They should try Ontario, Quebec, or even Maine to gain perspective on a long, hard winter. Anyway, a person’s mind begins to wander and drift toward warmer days, even my wife begins dreaming about seed catalogues and her gardens.
One of those spring activities many people look forward to is golf. Of course, some will travel to warmer locations during winter so they can enjoy playing all year around. Others just patiently wait for “those days” to come around. With the upcoming initiation of the new Miami Shores clubhouse, it might be interesting to take a brief look at the development of the public course over the years.
There was a Troy Golf and Tennis Club in Troy as early as 1900, which received permission to build a course at Highland Park, but little information is available concerning this group and its ultimate success or failure.
In 1931, the Rotary Club initiated a golf association, and in a short time, the 100-person strong association was able to construct and open a nine-hole course on the north side of the river in the area now occupied by Troy Memorial Stadium and Hobart Arena. The course was just over 3,000 yards in length and was laid out with the assistance of Troy Country Club (founded in 1922) professional Ed Hetzel. It was here that many Trojans enjoyed ‘hitting the links’ for a number of years prior to the current Miami Shores Golf Club.
In the early pioneer period, there was a plain on the north side of the Miami River which, according to historical notes, was used by Native Americans as a clearing to grown corn. Thomas Wheeler, in his history of Troy, related that William Gahagan, as a 19-year-old courier for General Anthony Wayne, had his horse shot out from under him while traveling through the region. He returned to this site about 11 years later and purchased the land, which later became known as Gahagan’s Prairie. It was here the next golf course would be situated.
In past articles, we have already learned that in the mid-1940s, in the interest of expanding recreational opportunities in Troy, William and Edward Hobart made a proposal to the city. They promised to build a winter sports arena if the people of Troy would support a levy for a new football stadium and an 18-hole community golf course. The levy was supported and it passed , and we now enjoy the benefits of those recreational facilities.
The Miami Shores Golf Club was laid out on Gahagan’s Prairie. According to golf historian Paul Dunn, the 18-hole course was the last one designed by the well-known golf course architect Donald Ross. He completed his plans in 1947, but unfortunately, Ross died in 1948 and did not live to see the completion of this design. The course was opened in the spring of 1949 and dedicated in August of the same year. A small clubhouse was also constructed in 1948 as part of the original plans.
Obviously, 69 years of activities causes wear and tear on a course and facility, but maintenance, renovation and upkeep has kept the grounds in good condition. However, Miami Shores in the past year completely replaced the 70-year-old clubhouse with a new upgraded and efficient structure which will serve the golfing community for many years to come.
So, while we may be enjoying some more winter weather this weekend, you can cozy up with a coffee or hot chocolate and dream of warmer days in the not too distant future and whatever spring activities might occupy your days.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org