Thursday, July 20, 2000

Whitewater is link to county park history

By Carey Hoffman
Enquirer contributor

        The history of Miami Whitewater Golf Course reflects a major part of the golf history in the Hamilton County Park District.

        The park district is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Golf has been a major part of the park district's recreational success. Last year, the county's seven courses turned a total of 341,601 rounds of golf.

        Miami Whitewater was the third course built by the park district, following Sharon Woods, which opened in 1938, and Winton Woods (now the Mill Course), which opened in 1951. Miami Whitewater officially opened in 1963, with much of the work in developing the course credited to its original pro, Marty Kavanaugh Sr. He later became director of golf for the park district.

        His son, Marty Kavanaugh Jr., followed his father as pro at Miami Whitewater and succeeded him as the district's director of golf when his dad retired in 1981. Kavanaugh Jr. was in that position until 1994 and helped the park district become nationally recognized for the quality of its golf programs.

        “He had a tremendous impact,” says Tom Kendrick, assistant director under Kavanaugh Jr. and the current director of golf.

        Kendrick also is a former Miami Whitewater pro. “(Kavanaugh Jr.) was such a visionary and luckily the park district had him in place at a time when it was growing, expanding and improving very rapidly.”

        “Marty always wanted the park district to be one of the best operations in the country, not just the city,” said Harry Alexander, current head pro at Miami Whitewater. “That's why a lot of our customer service programs would get attention nationwide at seminars. He really wanted us to have the best public golf courses in the country.”

        Kavanaugh Jr. left the park district for a senior staff position with the PGA of America, but the emphasis on high quality public golf continues. While nothing as dramatic as the development of facilities such as the Vineyard or Meadow Links and Golf Academy is in the works, quality improvement is an ongoing theme. The county's Shawnee Lookout course has recently undergone significant work to help its playability.

        Over the winter, the park district sent many of its personnel, including all of its head golf pros, to the Disney Institute for a four-day seminar, “The Disney Approach to Quality Service.”

        “I really do believe how you treat people is the most important factor in your success,” Alexander says.

        Kendrick said the park district's golf operations remain committed to providing affordable recreational opportunities to area citizens.

        “Operationally, I think we've seen this market become more demanding than it was five or especially 10 years ago. More facilities are available, facilities have raised their standards and its kind of raised the bar for everybody and forced us all to find ways to improve.”


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