Our Club has a long and rich heritage which we can point to with pride. As was said by John H. Patterson, the founder of N.C.R. and a patriarch of Dayton, who was here on our first opening day on June 3, 1919:
“Posterity will give a fuller realization to this gift than will be appreciated at this time”.
How right he was. Interestingly, the history of the ground that Miami Valley Golf Club sits on begins well before seventy-five years ago. The land has connections to the Treaty of Greenville, which was signed in 1795. You may remember from your school history class that the purpose of that treaty was to stop the fighting between the American settlers and the various Indian tribes that lived in the area at that time. The treaty served to open up Ohio and the Western frontier for settlement. The Treaty of Greenville was originally signed at Fort Greenville, located about fifty miles north of the Club. This treaty was signed by General Anthony Wayne and various Indian chiefs, including Little Turtle of the Miami tribe and Blue Jacket of the Shawnee tribe. However, some tribes dissented from this treaty and refused to sign it. Several years later William Henry Harrison was appointed Governor of the Northwest Territory, and in approximately 1802 he negotiated and signed an additional peace treaty with the dissenting tribes. This took place at a big tree on the Club property, which stood between what is now our #9 and #10 fairways. Unfortunately, the tree is not there now, but it lasted at least until the early 1930’s when we had the Western open here at our Club.
Later the land on which our Club now sits was used for farming, a gypsy camp, and a church through the mid and late 1800′s. It was owned during this time by the Mumma family, and then the Sellars family. Sometime after the turn of the century, it was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Walter and Georgeanna Kidder, who were the true founders of our Club.
The Kidders lived in Dayton view in a home at Grand Avenue and Arnold Place. They originally wanted the property to build a community center and park to be a gathering spot for local residents. They then got the idea to put a golf course in to provide additional recreational opportunities for the residents, and bought additional adjacent land to bring the total size and acreage of the property to 157 acres.
In addition to their strong sense of community benevolence, the Kidders were very wealthy. Mrs. Kidder was the daughter of William Hayner, who owned a distillery in Troy. Mr. Kidder first worked for Mr. Hayner and later became his business partner. Initially they sold a patent medicine called “Doctor Harter’s Iron Tonic”. But they really began to make money when they started a mail order whiskey business. In this business, they sold liquor by mail to people residing in areas of the country that had been voted “dry”. Unfortunately, this business was killed when the 18th Amendment and Prohibition was passed in 1919. However, both of these gentlemen went on to successful other businesses.
Once they decided to build a golf course, the Kidders were determined to go first class. They contacted the premier architect of the day, Donald Ross, to do it. Mr. Ross unfortunately initially refused, because he was so busy with other projects. However, he was finally persuaded to come to Dayton and stayed at the Kidder’s residence while he looked over the property. One night Mr. Ross met with Kidder and eighteen others who later became Miami Valley Golf Club charter members at the Kidder home. He laid out the course on a blackboard, and later this was reduced to a drawing which is now hanging on the wall outside our foyer at the Club.
The construction of the golf course actually started in 1915. Numerous difficulties were encountered. For instance, the soil had to be revitalized. Existing buildings were torn down. The entire tract was plowed and planted in cow peas to fertilize it. There were also drainage problems, especially where our hole #5 is now. However, the golf course was finally completed by 1919.
Later, in the spring of 1919, an organizational meeting was held in the office of Ed Burkhardt, and the Miami Valley Golf Club’s membership structure was formed. Mr. Kidder was appointed as the first President. The organization became incorporated. The Kidders deeded the land to the corporation with the proviso that it always be maintained as a recreational center. By this time, the Kidders had spent $310,000.00 to develop this property, which of course was a lot of money in 1919.
The golf course was actually designed by Donald Ross, and at the time, was intended to be one of the best in the country. For those of you that are not familiar with the works of Mr. Ross, he is still highly regarded today, and also designed the courses at such places as Oak Hill, Seminole, Pinehurst, Oakland Hills, Inverness and Scioto. But the Miami Valley Golf Club is the second oldest Donald Ross design in Ohio. Furthermore, Mr. Ross was actually present not only for the construction of the golf course, but also for the first opening day.
The original clubhouse was built where the swimming pool and the cart barn are now located around 1920 and expanded to a new facility that opened in 1930. Many additions have taken place to produce what is now the premier clubhouse facility in the Dayton area with a charm and grace that is hard to reproduce in modern architecture.
As with any successful private golf operation, there have been a good times and tough times to maneuver through. With the help of many dedicated employees and more importantly, many helpful and dedicated members, Miami Valley Golf Club has prospered for over 93 years and there is nothing to indicate it ever being anything other than the great club it is today.
From Gene and Frank Marchi as professionals to Andy Reynolds and Jim Hesselbrock as superintendents, Miami Valley prospered beyond anyone’s expectations. The members, though, are truly the reason a club like this succeeds. There was E.P. Randolph who served as President and Manager through the Depression years actually loaning the club $25,000.00 to help it weather the storm. During that same time, he even built the swimming pool and the clubs first watering system. It was always the members that carried the club to new heights which included many major events.
The 1931 Western Open, won by Ed Dudley (4 rounds at 4 under par) holding off the great Walter Hagen. The 1957 PGA Championship, the last held at match play, and won by Lionel Hebert over Dow Finsterwald 2-1. Many exhibitions by great players including, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Tommy Armour, Bryon Nelson and Babe Didrickson Zaharias.
The club has held many other major events including State Opens and Amateurs, The National Left-Handers Tournament (1954) in which our own member, Ray Stockmyer, reached the Semi-Finals. The club produced many champions in Bob Servis, Ruth Pickrel, Janet Beardsley, Don Penny, Brian Fogt and Gene Monnette who have all used their experienced at Miami Valley to propel them to regional and national championships. There have been many changes to our club over the years, from golf course to clubhouse, from employees to membership but one thing has remained constant. The caring, committed and diverse membership at this club separates it from all other clubs you may visit in that, whenever you arrive at Miami Valley, whether you are a golfing member, social member or guest it always feels like you are coming home.
We want to thank those individuals who have helped us put together this historical overview. They include, R.G. Smith, Jim Waltrip, Adele Haley, Ray Stockmeyer, Don and Donna Knab, Bob Kuntz, Tom Gillaugh, Phil Hull, Bob Randolph, Nancy Horlacher of the Dayton /Montgomery County Library, Roz Young of the Dayton Daily News, the Ohio Golf Association, and the Western Golf Association.