Waukon Golf & Country Club observing its 100-year anniversary this year; August 19 celebration planned for members and non-members

Among the early membership ... The membership card pictured above comes from the early years of existence for the Waukon Golf & Country Club, as indicated by the 1925 date shown toward the top of the card. The card is just some of the memorabilia that is part of the Waukon Golf & Country Club’s 100-year history being celebrated this year with an August 19 event. Submitted photo.

Evolution of the WG&CC clubhouse ... The three surrounding photos (one above and two below) show how the clubhouse at the Waukon Golf & Country clubhouse has changed during the 100-year history of the golf course. The photo above shows the original clubhouse, which was constructed in 1934 and still exists today as a multi-unit residence now owned by Pat and Kathy McMillan of Waukon. A city street, 1st Street SE, now runs between the building and the area pictured in the foreground of that photo directly below, which back then was the number-one tee but today is the number-nine tee. The current clubhouse, pictured in the photo below, was originally constructed in 1963, with more recent additions and improvements being made to the original structure during the 1990s. Submitted photos.

Original number-one tee ... Photo above shows a busy start to a day on the links at the original number-one tee at the Waukon Golf & Country Club. That number-one tee from the early years of the golf course is now where the number-nine tee is located. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

Although a golf score of 100 is nothing to brag about, a golf course being open for 100 years certainly is. Saturday, August 19, the Waukon Golf & Country Club (WGCC) will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a special celebration. The public is invited to a program featuring interviews by Chuck Bloxham at 6:30 p.m., followed by a dance from 7-10 p.m. featuring John and Jim Withers, sons of longtime Waukon physician Dr. Bill Withers and the late Libby Withers, who were longtime social members of the Club, along with Keel Clemmens, who joined the Withers brothers and others in being part of the Bandmates, Brothers and Friends band that played a reunion event in Waukon in May of this year. A cash bar will be available.

The thriving Waukon Golf & Country Club (WGCC) started a century ago, on a little piece of property owned by Miss Bertha Eddy. Minutes from Club business from 1933 indicated, “Dues for 1933 ought not to exceed $10.00 per family.” By May of 1933, Club members decided they wanted to have more amenities on the property and May 2, 1933 passed a motion on a 14-6 vote to pursue the construction of a clubhouse.  Miss Eddy, who lived in Florida, was sent the request by the Club May 3, 1933, and just five days later replied that she had no objections to the members building the clubhouse, nor to the possibility of eventually removing it from her property if the members chose to do so in the future.

The total cost of the first clubhouse, completed in 1938, came to $742.23 (about $17,453 today). When the Webster Lumber Company forgave the $125 bill for materials, William McGowan of the lumber company was given a complimentary membership to the country club for the year. In 1939, when Miss Eddy asked for $400 in rent, members negotiated with her, paying only $350. It was at that time, members voted to charge a guest fee of $.25 per guest. Green fees were $.50. The following year (1940), Miss Eddy reduced the rent to $300, provided payment be made by April 1. By 1941, the members expressed interest in buying the course and sold four $100 shares to J.B. Richter, G.W. Eaton, W. Hayes and B.H. Antonoff to help with the purchase. After purchasing the course for $1,000, July 21, 1941, the Club set up its Articles of Incorporation and appointed its first board of directors, which consisted of G.W. Eaton, A.E. Sheridan, B.H. Antonoff, E.W. Norden and W. Hayes.

Over the past 100 years, the Club has played host to countless traditions, such as Family Night, an annual fireworks display and countless parties and celebrations. Dick and Jeanne (nee Waldron) Roggensack have been involved with the Club, on and off, for the past 68 years. “We joined in 1955, ‘56 and ‘57, then moved to Chicago in 1957. But we bought a share in the golf course because we were enthused about it and wanted to be able to vote,” said Dick, adding he and his wife enjoyed Club family nights with their seven children. The couple lived in Chicago for 42 years and today have homes in Waukon and Florida. They purchased a second share in 2006 to support the Club. “We still come back every year for the golf tournament,” he said, adding this year four of his sons - Andy, Jeff, Terry and Ross - played in the annual tournament. Over the years, the WGCC became such a part of the Roggensack family culture, the family erected a bench near the tee stand on hole No. 9, in memory of their son, Kirk, who once shot a hole-in-one there. “Some people go to the cemetery. We go to the golf course,” said Dick.

Marv “Bud” Strike and his wife, Marge, joined the WGCC in 1958, shortly after moving to town for Bud’s first (and only) teaching job. “We both golf, and really enjoyed the potlucks, golf and steak suppers,” he said. Bud, a mathematician, explained how the course was modified and changed over the years: “We switched the course and added the No. 2 hole, a Par 3, just beyond the No. 6 green.  So hole No. 1 is now No. 9, No. 2 is now No.1, No. 3 is now No. 7, No. 4 is now No. 6, No. 5 is now No. 3, and No. 6 is what we call the bullpen. Hole No. 7 is now No. 4, No. 8 is now 5, and No. 9 is now 8,” he explained. Bud said over the years the Club has made other positive changes, including changing the practice from having to call and reserve a tee time at 9 a.m. to having a tee box where you’d put your golf ball to reserve your spot, to eventually requiring golfers to physically sign in at the clubhouse. “It’s the best move they ever made,” he said.

In the late 1950s, Roggensack talked cousin John Kerndt and his wife, Lorna, into joining the club, and John has been playing weekly ever since. “I’ve also been playing in the annual tournament since 1960 … I’ve maybe missed two of them in the last 63 years,” he said. Kerndt’s original foursome included Roggensack, Dean Fretheim and Marlin Knutson, and he played with them for many years. “I have been associated with that club for as long as I can remember. I think when I was about eight - in 1943 or 1944 - I worked a tournament,” he said. As an adult, John continued to do additional work for the Club, through Kerndt Trenching and Excavating and Kerndt Monument, including an irrigation and pond system, signage, stonework and plaques.

The “program” scheduled for this Saturday, August 19 begins at 6:30 p.m. Chuck Bloxham will interview longtime members Rupert Caballero, the Strikes, Ron and Nancy Brandt, the Kerndts and the Roggensacks. Music begins at 7 p.m. For more information about the upcoming event, contact Linda DeBuhr at 563-380-6140.