Chapter 4: "Play Away Mr. Kaufman!"
Saturday, June 16, 1923 was a great day to be a member of BPOE, Columbus Lodge No. 37. The long awaited unveiling of the Lodge's new Donald Ross designed golf course was now a reality. The course would be the first anywhere to be owned and operated by a BPOE lodge! Two Elks had to be really keyed up: John W. Kaufman and his 33 year old son Harold. For John W., the ceremony marked the crowning achievement of several years of tireless effort on behalf of Lodge No, 37. His service as chair of the Lodge's building committee had resulted in the acquisition of its magnificent downtown home; he had found the land and buildings for the Lodge's "country home," arranged for their purchase, and hired the greatest architect in the land to design a championship golf course on the grounds. John W. was a proud man, and he no doubt viewed it as a matter of import that his course be favorably received by fellow Elks and Columbus's golf community.
As Saturday morning approached, Harold had his own reasons for being anxious. As chair of the golf committee, he had been entrusted with the responsibility of making sure that Donald Ross's blueprints were followed and that the course was ready for play by its scheduled debut. But poor spring weather had interfered with the progress of putting the course into top shape. There was only so much that the committee and greenkeeper Lawrence Huber could do. The greens, though growing in satisfactorily, were bumpy; the fairway grass was still a little soft and spotty in a few places. The course would simply not be at its best by Saturday's festivities. Harold could only hope that the onlookers would understand the reasons for the course's lack of conditioning, and would focus instead on its beauty, and Donald Ross's impeccable routing of the holes. As E.H. Peniston of the Ohio State Journal noted in his article the day following the opening ceremony, "there are carries over ravines, many bits of woods to lose shots on, brooks and a lake to plunge into, and many well-placed traps."
But there was another reason why Harold might have lost sleep in advance of June 16. It had been determined that by virtue of his hard work as chair of the committee, he should be accorded the honor of opening the course by hitting the very first drive off hole off number 1. There would be a big crowd eyeballing the inaugural drive, and Harold wanted it to be a good one.
There was a third man who wanted very much to make a good impression that Saturday: newly appointed golf professional Lloyd Gullickson. Most of the Elks would be getting their first look at the young strapping Illinois native. They had heard he was a pretty fair player. Young Lloyd had won honors as golf champion of the Navy in 1918. After he was discharged, he made a surprising run in the '22 U.S. Open at Skokie C.C., outside Chicago. After a sterling 70 in the tournament's second round placed him only 5 back, it seemed Lloyd stood a realistic chance. He faded thereafter, but still finished a respectable T28 losing out to the 20 year old new golf star Gene Sarazen, . The payoff for competing in the major championships was not prize money (Sarazen's first prize at Skokie was $500; Gullickson's fine showing earned him nothing). What really mattered was that a good finish in a major championship would bring recognition which could help struggling young pros like Lloyd land a steady club professional job. His strong Open performance certainly helped his cause in becoming the first Elks' pro. The members would observe Lloyd's game first-hand that Saturday. To commemorate the opening, three other local pros would be joining Gullickson in a four-ball exhibition match. While Lloyd was used to high-level competition, he nevertheless would be feeling some pressure to give a good account of himself in front of the BPOE golfers with whom he would be dealing in his new job.
Saturday's proceedings commenced with the dignitaries marching to enthusiastic applause from the locker house facility ("a model for completeness of accommodations" according to E.H. Peniston) to the dais fronting the country house. Then, Old Glory was raised to the top of the flagpole by Master Richard "Dick" Royer Price, the son of Lodge 37's Past Exalted Ruler. Young Dick appears in the photo below to be around 4 years old- the same age as John Altmaier when he had performed the flag raising honors two years before at the country home dedication. Perhaps young Master Altmaier, now a doddering six year old, was considered too long in the tooth to reprise his role!
Mr. Price, as master of ceremonies, then called on John W. Kaufman, the man without whose efforts the course would never have become a reality- "the first in the history of Elkdom in the U.S." John W., in keeping with Elks tradition, "presented the club" to Lodge 37's most current Grand Exalted Ruler, Robert Beatty. Columbus Mayor James Thomas, lending some political punch to the occasion, praised the lodge and the Kaufmans for their tremendous achievement. Finally, Harold Kaufman rose to address the throng. It did not go unnoticed that a changing of the guard between father and son Kaufman seemed to be taking place. John W. had already ceded day-to-day control of Marble Cliff Quarries to Harold. Now, Harold was front-and-center on the Golf Committee and making what amounted to the valedictorian address of the ceremony. Harold expressed confidence that the course would develop into a "splendid" one, and further remarked that its availability would add to the already broad range of activities of the local lodge.
Then something happened that Harold was not expecting. In tribute to his unstinting efforts in leading the Golf Committee through the construction phase, The Elks bestowed upon him a life membership in the BPOE with the accompanying document packaged in a gold case. On the heels of this surprise, Harold had to gather himself and focus on his next task of striking the opening blow off the first tee. Sporting fashionable plus-fours, the bespectacled Harold carefully teed his ball which had been painted Elks' colors of purple and white especially for the occasion, and took aim. To his relief and the crowd's delight, he struck a beauty "across a treacherous gulley and straight up the first fairway." Though the photograph of the drive was snapped over 90 years ago, Harold's well-balanced follow through would evidence a good shot both then and now.
Below: top left is Harold Kaufman's opening strike; top center shows part of the opening ceremony in front of the clubhouse; top right is Mayor James Thomas making his address; Bottom left shows John W. Kaufman presenting the course to the lodge; bottom right is the new locker house with caddies ready to go (click on photo to see more detail).
Once the inaugural group was out of range, the spectators waited with anticipation for the main event- a four-ball match of local professionals featuring Lloyd Gullickson, the first professional at Elks' Country Club. However, one of his opponents was no ordinary club pro! Scioto's professional George Sargent had long been recognized as one of the game's finest players. An Englishman by birth, Sargent had showed natural aptitude for game when at age 19, he finished T-31st in the 1901 British Open at St. Andrews. He emigrated to Canada thereafter where he became the pro at Royal Ottawa Golf Club. He found his way to another club job in Vermont, and then entered the 1909 United States Open at Englewood Golf Club in New Jersey. Playing steadily, he hung close to the lead through three rounds. A sterling 71 on the final brought him home clear by four shots over Tim McNamara. Sargent's total of 290 was a new Open record. He received $300 prize money. While he never repeated as champion, George was a consistent threat to win the U.S. Open for the next seven years. His finishes starting in 1910 and ending in 1916: T16, T7, 6, T21, T3, T10, and T4. Once he became Scioto's first pro, (and revolutionizing golf instruction by being the first to use motion pictures to analyze the golf swing) Sargent appeared infrequently in tournaments. However, he still had enough game to finish T29 at the U.S. Open less than a month after the exhibition at The Elks.
Lloyd Gullickson knew Sargent and 4-ball partner Herb Vallette of Winding Hollow would make for formidable opponents. But Lloyd was comforted by the knowledge that Charlie Lorms was going to be his partner. Charlie had recently moved south from Toledo where he had served as pro for three years at Inverness, a fabulous Ross course that had hosted the 1920 U.S. Open. No doubt it occurred to Lloyd that Charlie would have some good advice to offer on how a new club pro could ingratiate himself to the membership. But Charlie could play too! He managed to play all four rounds at Inverness in the '20 Open. Lorms' current affiliation was Walnut Hills, but he would shortly take the head pro job at Columbus Country Club where he would serve for 37 years. During his tenure, Charlie found time to design two notable courses in the Columbus environs: Brookside and Worthington Hills. With its strategic doglegs and elevated greens, Brookside has the look of a Donald Ross design. Charlie Lorms' familiarity with Inverness and Columbus (both Donald Ross designs) undoubtedly influenced his work.
Charlie Lorms (right) in 1940
Although he was off line with some of his long tee shots, Lloyd Gullickson was the star of the match on the front nine leading his team to a three-up lead. Despite his team's deficit, George Sargent was the most consistent player, "his drives being in the fairway most of the time, and his putts always going for the cup." However, unfamiliarity with yardages (no yardage markers back then) cost Sargent a better score. Charlie kept the Lorms- Gullickson partnership comfortably ahead on the back nine with some inspired play of his own, and the two younger men prevailed 4 and 3. The BPOE lodge members had to be pleased that its new pro had made a good showing, even defeating a former U.S. Open champion.
Best of all, the course received rave reviews from the scribes. The Dispatch's Karl Finn wrote that the "natural beauty of the course attracted the spectators and golfers as much as the play did." Moreover, the "many trees and the stream that runs through the course add to its splendid appearance." Finn was particularly partial to the 137 yard par 3 14th over a small lake which he rated "the most interesting hole." He also liked the first hole, "an attractive dog's leg to the left which will require a long straight drive to clear the ditch and stay on the fairway." The OSJ's Peniston penned that the Elks course "is a beauty spot, different from other local courses except Winding Hollow [now Champions] which is somewhat similar. It affords restful views to the eyes and cooling shade along the way where one may stop and enjoy it all when not bent on a record-breaking score. It is a course that will grow on one and never grow dull or tiresome, and be a spot perhaps like many of the English courses- one that golfers will like to go back once in a while and enjoy it- especially the first nine holes."
John W. and Harold Kaufman had to be thrilled with the positive press. But even in the glow of the course's smash opening, the Elks could not rest. There was the need to obtain new Elks- particularly golfing Elks - to defray expenses of operation. The course was thus opened to the public the following Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday in hopes of gaining a few more members.
Lloyd Gullickson worked as The Elks' professional through the 1926 golf season. In this madcap era of flagpole sitting and marathon dancing, "Gully" took part in a similar act of tomfoolery. Perched precariously atop Columbus's new 47 story downtown A.I.U. tower (now the LeVeque Tower), he drove a golf ball far into the distance. Afterwards, he moved to Westwood Country Club in Cleveland for the 1927 season. He won the Ohio Open in 1934. Later he became the professional at Inverness in 1945. Lloyd had a tough act to follow at Inverness as he succeeded Byron Nelson as the club's professional. He served there until he retired in 1965. But one of his most interesting golf experiences was the match he played in 1934 partnering with the incomparable Babe Didrickson against Glenna Collett Vare (at the time the best female player) and her partner Babe Ruth. Didrickson was just learning the game, having won her track and field Olympic medals just two years before. But Didrickson was much further along in becoming proficient at the game than baseball's Babe, and she and Lloyd won easily.
Lloyd Gullickson, Glenna Collett Vare, Babe Ruth, and Babe Didrickson
1923 also saw another significant development adjacent to the Elks course. In order to speed up its interurban operations, The Columbus, Delaware & Marion Railway Company opened the Worthington Bypass, a portion of which was routed along the eastern border of the property.
The picture immediately below is of one of the CD&M interurban trains crossing a mammoth wooden trestle that was located just north of Worthington. The lower photo is of an interurban on the tracks on Sandusky Street in Delaware. Elks course players were treated to the sight of the interurban scooting by the premises until 1933.
Next Chapter 5: "The Home of Champions!"
Acknowledgements: Columbus Dispatch: article by Karl T. Finn; Ohio State Journal photos and article by E.H. Peniston, columbusrailroad.com; archives of the Library of Congress; flickr Getty archives; Columbus Metropolitan Library newspaper archives; Scripps-Howard Newspaper/Grandview Heights Public Library /Photo.org Collection,