Butler’s Golf Course’s 90th Anniversary

April’s Story… The Third Nine

From 1928 to 1962, Butler’s existed as an 18-hole public golf course.  When constructing the original design, J.W. Butler didn’t intend to add more holes, but his daughters, Mildred Nill and Eva Waldbaum, began to have different ideas.  Although Standard Auto, the car dealership, still remained the family’s main business, the golf course was beginning to attract more attention and justified some expansion.

After it was decided that the course could be expanded, Mildred and Eva hired Golf Course Architect Ed Ault.  He, along with then Superintendent Tom Fox and the family, set to design an additional 18-hole layout that worked well with the existing 18 holes.  This project came about in conjunction with the installation of the sewage system in Elizabeth Township.  For those who are interested in the details, the final photo included below is a map of this original 36-hole design that never came to fruition.  Many years of considering the 4th nine led to rerouting it from the original Ault plan.  For financial reasons, only 9 additional holes were built in the 60s.  It was important that all 3 nines returned to the clubhouse, and from the start it was determined that one course would normally be reserved for 18-hole play and another for 9 holes only.  They eventually became known as the 18-hole Woodside Course and 9-hole Lakeside Course.  Each nine would also eventually receive a designated color, though these evolved over time.  First, Woodside was red, and Lakeside was green.  Later Woodside front and back were red and blue respectively – the back was ‘Vista’ for a few years.  Lakeside would be yellow, and eventually when Lakeside back was built in 2000, it would be green.

In 1963, Tom Fox moved to West Virginia, and Ralph Nill, Mildred’s son, was asked to begin working at the course.  One of his first tasks was overseeing this construction project.  As a reminder from March’s story, the tornado also blew through in August 1963.  Many people believe that the original 18 holes is what is now the Woodside Course and what is now the Lakeside front was a separate new nine holes of golf built in 1963.  This is not the case. We have included a sketch below done in 2008 which depicts how the new nine was configured. 

Analyzing this picture may make your head spin at first, but once you understand the assignment of different colors it becomes clear.

In the drawing, everything that is green was original and is still in use today.  Everything that is red was original but eliminated in 1963.  Everything in yellow was new after the renovation in 1963 and is some part of what are now the front nines of the Woodside and Lakeside Courses.  You can see that the Lakeside Course actually utilized the first 5 holes of the original course.  Hole 6 was new, and so were holes 7-9 (not pictured).  The first 3 holes of what is now the Woodside front nine were built in 1963 and the remaining holes utilized the original course, with TWO original holes (6 and 9) split into FOUR separate holes.  You can see that what are now Woodside #4 and #8 greens were built directly in the center of the original course’s fairways.  We believe these areas were played as Ground-Under-Repair during the construction to allow for normal play before the greens opened. 

We have also included a photo of Lakeside #9 green shortly after opening.  The oak tree that was over 200 years old is to the left, and the old bridge over the road which was replaced in fall 2017 is also in the picture.  Although the original design is still evident today, you can see the effects of mowing patterns and the use of mechanical sand rakes over the course of 55 years.  Gradually, the shapes of greens and bunkers nearly always change from their original outlines.

The course would remain 27 holes for 37 more years, all the while golf becoming more popular.  Leagues were developed, often from local businesses and the steel mills, and quite a few were started when we gathered new players who had just taken lessons at the course.  All three nines were eventually used in rotation to accommodate the growing number of groups.  Ralph and the family would eventually plan expanding to 36 holes in 1998, but alas, that is another story.

Thank you for helping us celebrate our 90th Anniversary by taking a little trip down memory lane.  We look forward to sharing another piece of Butler’s Golf Course history in May.  


History Archives

January's Story - Remembering the Beginning
February's Story - Silent Park Lake and Picnic Grounds
March's Story The Tornado of 1963