Fifty years ago Will Goecke, a Dayton golf professional, took a big chance when he purchased the Xenia Country Club and its nine-hole golf course.
Seeking the advice of a friend involved in golf course maintenance, Goecke asked the man if it was time for an application of weed killer.
“Will,” the man replied, “if you spray for weeds you won’t have a golf course.”
Such was the condition of the course that had been owned and operated for 24 years by a Scottish pro named Gil Ogilvie, who had to sell some lots adjacent to the course during the post-war years to keep it afloat.
Goecke, who had been head golf professional at the Dayton Power & Light and Walnut Grove Country Club courses, also owned the Wil-Goe Driving Range on Linden Avenue.
Goecke wanted to expand the Xenia course to 18 holes, so he sold the driving range in 1973 and used the cash to make a down payment for the purchase of farmland directly across the road from the golf course. He immediately built a driving range on his new land but had others farm most of it for several years.
A serious bout with cancer threatened to spoil Goecke’s 18-hole dream, when his son, Garay, came up with a formula to raise money for construction. Garay sought 100 people who would contribute $1,500 apiece for the right to play the course for seven years after which they could get 50 percent of their money back or re-up for another seven years. Garay’s son, Chris Goecke, said approximately 70 percent renewed.
Garay didn’t get the desired 100 people for his so-called 100 Club, but he did get 70 and raised $105,000. That was enough to convince a local bank to match it, and construction of the second nine holes began. The project was completed in 1982 with the new nine becoming the front nine.
“That’s when he changed the name (from Xenia Country Club) to WGC,” Chris Goecke explained a few days ago. The letters W, G and C stand for the three generations of Goecke men — Will, Garay and Chris.
Chris, who had worked for a golf course construction company for three years, supervised the installation of the fairway irrigation.
Will Goecke died three years after the grand opening, his dream fulfilled, and the family has carried on.
Golfers playing the WGC course get two different experiences. The front nine is flat but has trees that can get in the way and water that must be avoided on a couple of holes.
The original nine is hilly and winds among many old trees. It measures 6,565 yards from the blue tees, 6,226 from the whites, 5,419 from the golds and 4,671 from the reds.
It is basically a no-frills course, but the playing conditions are usually good. The greens are no pushovers. They offer plenty of putting challenges.
Over the years the Goeckes have been especially good to junior golfers, offering both a league and a day camp every summer during which the youngsters have time set aside to play a few holes on the course.
WGC’s most recent addition is an indoor golf academy where John Wilkinson provides the instruction. Wilkinson, who taught 2010 Ohio Amateur champion Michael Bernard, is teaching Chris’ son, Tyler, a Carroll High School senior who is one of the area’s best high school golfers.
Symetra Tour stops at River’s Bend
The Symetra Golf Tour, a little sister to the LPGA Tour, will visit the TPC at Rivers Bend in Maineville next weekend for a 54-hole tournament beginning on Friday.
The list of entrants includes Emma Jandel and amateur Alexandra Swayne.
The 30-year-old Jandel is a 2006 graduate of Oakwood High School who won the Ohio high school championship in 2005 and the Women’s Ohio Amateur in 2006 and 2007. She was on the Symetra Tour from 2010 to 2013, spent 2014 on the LPGA Tour and then went back to the Symetra in 2015.
She failed to make the cut in her first seven Symetra appearances this year but tied for 36th in the Forsyth Classic at Decatur, Ill., on June 15. She entered an event in Harris, Mich., this weekend.
Swayne, a recent Kings High School grad who will play collegiately at Clemson, finished first in the Optimist Junior Championship at Yankee Trace in Centerville last year.
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