August 22, 1996
While researching information last week for a column about the Perry Golf & Country Club, I kept trying to remember something I heard years ago from Harry A. DeLashmutt. Many of you knew him. He was bookkeeper at The Perry Daily Journal when I started work there in 1941 and he was still on the job when I left in 1969. But bookkeeping was just something he did to occupy his time when he could not be on the golf course. Mr. DeLashmutt died in 1974 in his mid 80's, but he never lost his love of the game.
The factoid tantalizing my memory was the name of the designer of the Country Club golf course here. Mr. DeLashmutt used to tell me about him, but the name had slipped my mind. However, thanks to my own peculiar filing system, which relies heavily on the roulette method of dumb luck and a firm belief in deja vu for retrieval, I have found it again. The designer was none other than Perry Maxwell, who laid out many of the top-rated courses in the U.S. Ours may have been one of the few nine-hole spreads bearing his imprimatur.
Some of that information is contained in a "Golf Shop" column that appeared in The Oklahoma City Times sports section in 1964. I stumbled upon my clipping from that edition while looking for something else the other day. The columnist was the late Wally Wallis, a good friend who himself was held to be one of the state's most knowledgeable golf experts. Let me quote a bit of what Wally wrote that day about our local course:
"If the memories could have materialized into mortals again, there would have been a great oldtimers' reunion at the Perry Country Club last weekend. At the far end of the first fairway, more than 400 yards from the farmhouse which became a clubhouse, the late Perry Maxwell, greatest of American golf course architects, would have been seen. A battered hat would have been pulled down over his head, sleeves rolled above the elbows and trouser legs stuffed into the tops of cavalry boots. Sharp stick in hand, Maxwell would have been outlining the first green.
"A man of great imagination, Maxwell designed the course more than 35 years ago that still resists onslaughts of fine players. (This was written in 1964, remember, so he was referring to the year 1929. The course is believed to be older than that.) Its par is still as sacred as Maxwell intended it to be when with his stick he sketched No. 1 green in the shape of the state of Oklahoma and placed the cup at the geographical location of this capital city of Noble county."
Wally continued: "It and the other eight greens on the course were made of sand in those days but they never gave up the amazing sub-par scores that other sand green courses of the period relinquished. Maxwell saw to that as he used two creeks and some small lakes to put water hazards on eight of the nine holes. Now the greens are bent (grass) and No. 1 isn't a map of the state." (As Wally indicated, after the sand greens were converted to grass, No. 1 was no longer in the shape of Oklahoma. Moreover, No. 1 became No. 7 as part of the conversion to grass, according to Willard Andrews, current president of the club.)
Quoting from Wally's 1964 column again: "Perry Country Club has returned to the tournament business and right successfully, too. There were 100 players and at least one of them had conquered the course that Maxwell built. He was little Jimmie Schatz of Stillwater, a mighty little mite 35 years ago who weighed no more than 105 pounds who beat the daylights out of anyone who challenged him on sand greens.
"Al Singletary, an old high school classmate, was the starter, Sunday. Wilbur G. Mouser, who bought a share of Perry Country Club stock in 1927, and Henry Schurkens, who once got chased out of the jungle to the left of the seventh green by a swarm of angry hornets as Schatz, the late Earl Bechtold and your Ol' Pro (Wally) laughed because there really wasn't much else they could do except keep out of the way of the hornets, were entrants.
"The Bechtold boy, Raymond, was in better shape this past weekend. They say he's a better player than is papa was. The late Ed C. Gallagher of Stillwater would have contested such a statement until doomsday. They weren't playing in the tournament but they have at it here two or three times a week in one of Oklahoma's better elder statesmen's playing group -- Bert Byerley, O. R. Hall, L. E. Plumer, Harry DeLashmutt Sr. and (H.G.) Doc Donley.
"Byerley and DeLashmutt had hands in hiring Maxwell to build the Perry Country Club course when the town's initial golf course, located in the vicinity of the present cemetery east and south of town, was being abandoned. (See note below.) Perhaps some of the others did too, but memory is not reliable enough to say."
Wally's column is still interesting today, 32 years after he wrote it. Most of the players he named are no longer with us, but they deserve much of the credit for creating the Perry Golf & Country Club and for securing Perry Maxwell as architect of the course. An obvious correction in Wally's copy should be made when he refers to the abandonment of an earlier golf course located near the town cemetery. He was referring to the original Perry Country Club, built around Wills Lake, but it never had a golf course, only picnic grounds, fishing, swimming, boating and other things for relaxing. The one and only Perry golf course is at the present Country Club site.
Wally Wallis' column contained a few more interesting comments on golf in Perry, and I'll pass some of those on to you in the next Northwest Corner.