Seymour Country Club celebrates milestone

When the game first took off in Seymour, golfers — dressed in knickers and tweed hats — took to the links with hickory clubs.

No carts or range finders, just the essentials.

While clothing styles and technology have changed since Seymour Country Club opened in 1922, one focus never faltered — a community-first mindset.

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That attitude has kept the golf course open for almost a century.

In 2017, Seymour Country Club is celebrating 95 years of service to the community — a major milestone for the establishment.

“I think it’s quite special to have something around for that long,” majority owner Jim Ward said. “To think that golf has been played on this piece of property for 95 years is quite amazing.

“I think that this is like a meeting place for the community. Like Shadowood Golf Course (Seymour) or Hickory Hills in Brownstown, it’s a place to meet up with your friends. That’s what golf is all about — having some fun, raising some money, play a game with your buddies and have your bragging rights for the day.”

Ward said the course is planning a special event in the coming months to commemorate 95 years and also selling merchandise for the anniversary.

“We’re going to have a hickory event in September,” Ward said. “We’re going to play with hickory-shafted golf clubs. It will be an 18-hole event where you can make up your own team. We’re going to dress up like they did in the 1920s. There will be a best-dressed event to go along with it.”

Ward said more information on the event will be out in the near future.

Ward, a PGA professional since 1983, and his wife, Rebecca, a former LPGA professional and currently head instructor at Seymour Country Club, first came to Seymour in 1989.

“In ‘89, I was traveling in the LPGA Tour with my wife,” Jim said. “I was caddying for her and various other gals. After one year of seeing the whole country, we did about 65,000 miles together in the air and on the ground. I wanted to go back to being a golf professional again.”

At first, Jim didn’t think Seymour would prove a long-term destination.

“We landed here, and I will never forget that my parents picked me up in Indianapolis for my interview,” Ward said. “We were driving through town, and Mom made a few remarks. She said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if they offered you this job and this is where you retired?’

“I told her I was going to be here for just a few years, and then Becky will be playing. She ended up having so many injuries, it forced her from playing. We settled here, and we’re happy. We’ve met a lot of people around here.”

The nine-hole, par-35 course has stood the test of time.

The links have an old-school design that attracts golfers from across the state and country.

“It’s not so much the length of it that makes it special,” Ward said. “It’s the old design characteristics that were put into the courses back in the late teens and 1920s — shorter courses, small greens, tees located very close to the green complexes so it’s not a very long walk from point A to point B.”

It’s that community feel that Ward admires.

“It has that park-land type feel like golf courses used to have,” he said. “Some courses are built out in the country, but this is built with the natural flow of the land. The architects at the time did a really, really good job to use the terrain we have without pushing any dirt. Our greens are really small, which make this course very challenging. If you miss your second or third shots and put the ball in the wrong place, it’s impossible to recover.”

The course hosts leagues most every day of the week for men and women and continues to coach juniors.

They also host multiple fundraiser events.

“We’ve always tried to be good supporters of the community, whether it’s fundraisers or donations,” Ward said. “My wife has been running the humane society scramble for 19 years. We’ve raised over $170,000, which I think is wonderful for the local shelter. It’s well used over there. They do a very good job.”

He estimates that he has played the course more than a thousand times over the years, and some of his best memories are the relationships built at Seymour Country Club.

“Some of those other memories, you can’t replace them,” Ward said. “We came in as outsiders and were brought right in as family. What a great group of people to be able to associate with on a social and personal basis.”

Jim and Becky don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“We will be married for 36 years this year,” Jim said. “We’ve worked together on and off for probably 34 of those 36. Sometimes, it’s challenging, but we get along great out here. Hopefully, we will all be around here in five years when the course turns 100.”