Shortly after earning medalist honors in the 1937 Division I State Golf Championship, our founder, Jack Kidwell (1918-2001), born to a poor sharecropping family on the west side of Columbus (OH) during the Great Depression, finally convinced his father that owning a golf course couldn’t be any less profitable than farming at the time. Subsequently, a land grant contract for the local 9-hole Beacon Light course was executed, propelling the Kidwell family into the business of golf and in 1957, most unexpectedly for Jack, a career in golf course architecture.
Absent any formal training or mentorship, Jack employed his playing acumen and personal value set – simplicity, humility, tradition, prudence, function, empathy – to formulate his courses. This romantic combination, albeit far better suited to priesthood than the often mercenary hubris of golf course architecture, would eventually translate into 100 or so modest layouts where tens of thousands of public golfers continue to learn and enjoy the game.
Through an unrelenting work ethic and genuine interest in helping his fellow man, Jack would ultimately serve his country in World War II and become a Class “A” PGA Teaching Professional, a Class “A” member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and member of the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame.
Although the popular press rarely noticed this “Johnny Appleseed of Golf”, a personal preference for obscurity furthered by his aversion to air travel, the state of Ohio did. On our bicentennial, Jack was posthumously selected as the single greatest contributor to the game of golf in Ohio alongside such iconoclasts as Jesse Owens (Track and Field), Paul Brown (Football) and Cy Young (Baseball).
Jack was Norman Rockwell’s “everyman” whose designs neither would, nor were intended to, bring him wealth or fame. But he did have a limitless rolodex of beloved friends which he considered to be his greatest accomplishment. And because of this, just as with George Bailey in the film “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Jack was always “the richest man in town”.