The Studebaker Golf Course wants tales and images to mark the 100th anniversary of South Bend | historical past
SOUTH BEND – The Studebaker Golf Course celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. In fact, 98 years have passed since the first round of golf was played, and more than 100 years since park officials started devising a course.
What will mark the city is a century since the city began in earnest to shape the course. Thanks to World War I, there had been a slight delay.
If you didn’t know, city golf director Tony Stearns laments, “We don’t know much about our golf history.”
For this reason, the city park department is eager to run promotions and events for the 100th anniversary in order to collect personal stories and photos.
Sure, there are park board protocols and basic details, but he says the narrative is missing about the people who made a difference – or whose lives were influenced by them – on the city’s golf courses. Even The Tribune archives lack a strong collection of photos.
Hence, the City of Venues, Parks and Arts Administration invites the public to share stories. A website went live this week where the public can write their stories and download photos. For those unfamiliar with the Internet, a light breakfast and forum for sharing stories and photos will be served at 9:00 am on January 15th at the O’Brien Center, 321 E. Walter St. Coffee, donuts, and fruit .
The city also operates Erskine and Elbel golf courses, but the staff strongly prefer stories about their first course: Studebaker’s nine holes on High and Calvert streets to the southeast.
Rick Riddle, who left the parks department after roughly 30 years researching local history last year, fears a 100th anniversary could mislead the public about the course’s current history and key dates. He told the park officials about the disagreement a year ago. It’s similar to the Potawatomi Zoo’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2002: the city had a collection of what the park ranger called “pets” at Leeper Park in 1902, which later evolved into a zoo in its current location and opened in 1921 has been.
Stearns confirmed that the minutes of the meeting show that the parks authority approved a 30-acre layout for the golf course in 1916. The discussion about this could have started a year or two earlier. In 1917, however, the board decided to reserve part of the park for gardens and to grow food for the public during World War I. By 1919, however, the city made concerted efforts to finally turn it into a course. The first round was played in 1921, as documented in an article in the South Bend News-Times that year.
When he got to work almost two years ago, Stearns said materials about Studebaker said it started in 1919. Then he learned last January that the first round was being played in 1921.
That didn’t deter the park officials, he said, who have been discussing the anniversary for a year and have been making plans for almost six months.
“For us, the thought is that this is going to be a golf course in fact,” said Stearns, noting that South Bend was so “prescient” at a time when golf was in the US in the early years.
Given the lack of stories and photos, Stearns said, “The only way we can understand better is for people to come together and share stories.”
Park staff will go through, edit, and possibly expand on the stories that might appear on the website, social media, and possibly other media the staff is still researching – maybe even a book, says Jeff Jarnecke, events director of South Bend.
Anniversary events begin in January, and seasonal promotions are announced in April, culminating in a grand celebration for the general public on July 21, Stearns says.
“We’re not just making it a golf event, we’re making it a whole community event,” he says.
Share stories, photos
Share your stories and photos from the Studebaker Golf Course here. The website now asks for “Your Story” but will add specific questions in the coming weeks.