Harmon Golf Course to celebrate 100th anniversary

A century of bogeys, birdies and even the occasional hole-in-one will be celebrated this Saturday with the 100th anniversary of the Harmon Golf Course.

The operators of the Harmon Golf Course are hosting a special “back-in-time” themed golf outing, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Harmon Park was actually started by Judge J.W. Wright, who was among the first Lebanon residents to ever play golf, visiting a course in French Lick, Ind., said current golf course operator Kevin O’Sullivan.

“Judge Wright fell in love with golf right away,” O’Sullivan said. “As soon as he came back to Lebanon, he got together with five other gentleman and together they raised the funds to build a five hole course in the Harmon Park.”

The course was remade twice, once in 1919 and again in 1926. Some historians debate whether the final course was designed by A. W. Tillinghast, who was considered the king of golf course architecture.

“There is a lot of debate over the matter,” O’Sullivan said. “Tillinghast lists having designed a golf course in Lebanon, New York in his biography and some people believe he had his states confused. If you look at the layout of the course, for its day it was definitely a championship level course. It is still a very difficult course, even today.”

The course is unique in that while it only has 9 holes, each hole has two different tee-off points, making it more like an 18-hole course, O’Sullivan said.

The land upon which the course sits and for which it was named came from William Elmer Harmon. Born in 1862 in Lebanon, Harmon became a real estate mogul after perfecting installment buying plans for parcels of land. Harmon donated 88 acres to create Harmon Park in Lebanon in 1911.

Harmon had a saying,’Some people use money to buy horses, I use it to help people help themselves,” said Warren County historian John Zimkus.

Harmon created 119 Harmon Parks in 34 different states, including several in southwest Ohio.

Harmon’s words are quoted on a stone monument at the Harmon Golf Club “Serving one’s own people transcends duty and becomes a privilege.”

For the 100th anniversary, O’Sullivan said he is looking to recreate golf from the early 20th century.

Players will be provided with hickory sticks and mesh golf balls, the style of clubs and balls used to play golf when the club first opened in 1912.

The event includes a lunch at 11 a.m., a noon tee-off time for all participants and dinner at 6 p.m. with entertainment straight out of the early 1900s. Cost is $75 per player. To register, call (513) 934-3433.

The winner of the golfing tournament will be awarded the James Cup, named for Dick James who worked as the golf pro at Harmon Golf Course for 51 years, from 1954 to 2005.

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