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COUNTY JOINS IN NATIONAL SURGE TOWARD GOLF COURSE

The growing popularity of golf continues to amaze its advocates.

The influence of the nation's newest participation craze spread both home and abroad last year with new golf courses and novice golfers popping up like daisies on a rainy day.

The National Golf Foundation, an organization financed by the nation's golf equipment firms and related industries, reports that 1964 saw 426 new courses built in the United States , the greatest one year increase in the history of the game.

Just the year before, a total of 407 new layouts became ready for play. As of Jan. 1 the nation counted 7,893 courses. All but 781 of those were 9 or 18 hole courses. The others were par-3 courses. The Foundation predicts some 460 new courses this year. The saturation point, if there is one, seems a long way off. By 1970, the Foundation expects that nation's courses to number 10,000.

The Detroit metropolitan region numbers 65 public, semi-private and municipal courses and the Toledo region has 16 layouts in all. In 1931, there were 5.961 courses including par-3s, in the United States . That figure fell to a low of 4,817 by 1946 but in 1947 began a rise which has gained momentum nearly each year since. The dispersion of 9-hole, 18-hole, private, semi-private and municipal courses has been similar.

Monroe County too has been on the golfing bandwagon. From the mid-twenties until 1960 Westburn Golf Club in South Rockwood and the Monroe Golf and Country Club were the lone county courses. Then in July 1960, Robert and Joseph Milosch opened the 9 holes at Carleton Glen Golf Club in Carleton, and the local boom had begun. The Carleton course became an 18 hole layout in September 1961.

A year later Sam and Alex Lilac opened the 18-hole Lilac Bros. golf course in Newport . At just more than 7,000 yards, the owners claim it to be the longest course in the state.

Deme Acres in Petersburg opened with nine holes on July 15, 1962. Last year the 9-hole Doon-A-Dee course in Dundee was played for the first time on Memorial Day and the Raisin River Country Club in Monroe commenced play July 3. George Bruce, owner of Deme Acres already has seeded and planted trees on another 9-hole spread and hopes to have it ready in time for play next year. The expanse adjoins the present 9. When completed Deme Acres will be a 120-acre par 72 layout.

A unique feature of the new nine, Mr. Bruce said, will be the trees separating each fairway. "It will be possible to be 15 yards from a golfer on another fairway and not be able to see him," he explained. More than 3,500 trees were planted. Mr. Bruce also plans to convert a barn into a clubhouse soon.

Carleton Glen this year added a large combination bar-restaurant as an addition to a proshop. The new facility measures 40 by 56 feet on two levels and has a 56 by 7 foot picture window looking north. The ninth green can be seen a short chip-shot away and six fairways are in view.

The Monroe Golf and Country Club recently completed irrigation facilities for its back nine. The front nine was watered a year ago.

This great expansion of golf, paralleling the rise of bowling, has brought to the nation's courses some 7 million golfers who play at least 15 rounds a year, according to the Foundation. There are 5 million who play fewer than 15 rounds. The year 1958 saw just 5 million golfers in all the United States . Some 1,800 persons on the average visited the county's seven courses on weekends last summer.

But why this big push for golf? Probably the greatest reason has been increased leisure time for the American people and the discovery that golf in a participation sport available to nearly every member of the family. Golf is nearly a cradle to grave sport. In fact a recent issue of a national golf magazine carried a picture of a foursome in Lake Worth , Fla. Whose ages were 86, 90, 92, and 95 --- 363 years in all. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, the game's two top touring pros, both began the game under the guidance of their fathers before they were five years old.

Also former President Dwight Eisenhower's frequent trips to the fairways while he was in office undoubtedly had much to do with the game's popularity.And the federal government is smiling too. It participates in a 20 percent excise tax for private club dues. There were 1,076 private courses in 1946 and today there are 3,764.

(Monroe Evening News, May 12, 1965, p. 19)


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