KETTERING, Ohio – As players from the 52 teams in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship compete this week on the South Course at NCR Country Club, they will do so at a club that has staged some of golf’s great championships, with a history that goes well beyond the golf course.
Best known for hosting three USGA championships, including the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open, 1998 U.S. Mid-Amateur and 2005 U.S. Senior Open, as well as the 1969 PGA Championship, NCR is almost always preparing for one competition or another. Since the club’s founding in 1954, its South Course has also served as host of the Ohio Golf Association’s Amateur Championship and has been a U.S. Open qualifying site on several occasions, most recently in 2009. The North Course served as the companion layout during stroke-play qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
“This club was founded on the basis that [NCR Chairman] Stanley C. Allyn really wanted this to be a championship venue for golf,” said Steve Bolerjack, the club’s chief operating officer. “He came into the whole concept when he built these two different courses, because one is, layout and design-wise, totally different from the other. The North Course is much more open, while the South Course has more rolling terrain, has lots of doglegs, and I think the idea was to make it our championship venue.”
Allyn served on the board of The PGA of America, as did his successor, Robert S. Oelman, which helped the club land the 1969 PGA Championship, according to Leo Harty. Harty worked for NCR for 42 years and has been a member of the club for 38, at one time serving as its president. Raymond Floyd captured that initial major championship, edging Gary Player by a stroke to win his first of four career majors.
The USGA’s first championship on the Dick Wilson design would produce a memorable U.S. Women’s Open 17 years later. Trailing by five strokes with seven holes to play in the final round, Jane Geddes made three late birdies to tie Sally Little and force a Monday playoff, which she won after once again trailing late. In 1998, John “Spider” Miller, who was recently named the 2015 USA Walker Cup captain, won his second U.S. Mid-Amateur title by topping Chip Holcombe, 1 up, in the championship match. In 2005, the U.S. Senior Open produced another stirring comeback, as Allen Doyle fired a 63 to overcome a nine-stroke deficit on the final day to defeat Craig Stadler and Loren Roberts by one stroke.
Now based in Duluth, Ga., Allyn’s company, National Cash Register was founded in 1884 in nearby Dayton, Ohio. Charles Kettering, an early head of its research department and for whom the town is named, designed the first electric cash register in 1906, but the company’s innovations did not end there. NCR would go on to commercialize the first bar code scanners in 1974, according to its website, and it was among the first to roll out ATM machines that allow mixed-media deposits (depositing cash, checks and bank notes at once). In addition, one of its scientists, John L. Janning, is credited with perfecting liquid crystal displays, otherwise known as LCD screens.
Sustaining a company that serves as a leader in its field makes it imperative to recruit and retain top talent, which served as a driving force in the creation of the club. At the time, NCR had around 21,000 employees and was based in Dayton.
“They wanted to provide a facility for golf that would give employees another major reason to stay at NCR,” said Harty. “We never had a union, so they always strived to be equal or better than any of the big companies in order to attract and retain quality employees.”
While the club was built by NCR for its employees, the company has never actually owned it. Upon its construction, the NCR Employee Benefit Association was established, and the club and property were deeded over to it. The corporation helped to subsidize any shortages the club would have in its early years, but its independence has allowed it to thrive into the present day.
“As business conditions changed, NCR came to the management of the club and decided that they wanted to reduce their subsidies so that it was completely free-standing,” Harty explained. “It was an opportunity for the club and its members to really take a step away from the benevolent shadow of the company.”
The club started to offer associate memberships in the early 1970s, which allowed retired and former NCR employees – as well as the public – a chance to join the club. The percentage of club members employed by NCR declined over the years, and with the company headquarters moving to Georgia in 2010, membership is now predominantly made up of local families. Teradata, a data warehousing company that was formerly a division of NCR, is still based locally, and, in keeping with the club’s roots, its employees are eligible for membership at a reduced cost.
This week, the USGA Women’s State Team Championship is helping the club stay true to another one of its time-honored traditions, says Bolerjack.
“I think championship golf is really who we are,” he said. “It’s maintaining the history and tradition that the club was founded on.”
Scott Lipsky is the USGA’s social media specialist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.