Arnold Ingraham approached Manager Chad Gibson and I where we sat at Bunker Hill Golf Course. He had a generous smile and a twinkle in his eye that bore evidence to the fondness he had for his family business and the community it serves.
“This is Nikki,” introduced Gibson. “We were just talking about how Bunker Hill is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and the history behind it.”
“Oh?” remarks Ingraham. He eyes the scrapbook of history that Gibson and I had been perusing before he moves and claims a chair at our table. A few golfers gazed at the owner with a combination of interest and respect, and my own interest is piqued. “I was born and raised here on the oldest golf course in Medina County. As a boy I ran a trapline and hunted and fished on this land.”
Once upon a time, the land of Bunker Hill Golf Course had been a farm owned by Eden Hamilton. It was named after the historic Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, near where the Hamilton family had lived. When her grandson Walter Kennedy acquired the land, he had a different vision for the farm.
“In 1927, Kennedy opened a 9 hole golf course,” explains Gibson. “Berneta and Roger Ingraham—Arnold’s parents—purchased the course in 1939.”
Ingraham nods, and gestures out the window. “We used to have a Bunker Hill Inn on the property that was opened in 1936. A restaurant opened in the Inn in the 50’s, but it burned down in 1958. Three years later, it was rebuilt and the golf course was expanded to an 18-hole golf course.
“The restaurant was popular before it burned down—it was a fantastic steak and chicken place. They remodeled in the early 40’s, and I remember them pulling down signs from the loft in the bar. I still have one saying a porter house steak costs $1.25, and, you know, the real cream signs.” He laughs, and the sound is an infectious ripple.
Ingraham goes on to reminisce how, as a boy, much like today, there was always something going on at the golf course.
“I remember in 1948—the year when the Indians last won the pennant—several of their players came to the Inn for dinner. They came down here, where the carts are located today, and they played catch with my brother and I, then they signed a ball for us. I was 7 years old, and my brother was 11. As a child, it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. While the World Series was going on, we were on the front page of the Medina Gazette. I still have that ball.”
At the mention of newspapers, Gibson opens the scrapbook and shows me pages of clippings. I glance at article after article, headline after headline, and finally pause on one page in particular.
“Arnie’s Golf Talk?” I ask.
Ingraham chuckled, almost dismissively. “I used to write Arnie’s Golf Talk for a local paper. I wrote it for a couple years, maybe once a month during the golf season. I wrote about golf in general, and I didn’t give too much instruction, but instead offered some general talk about slow play and things that are detrimental to golf, and explained a bit about etiquette.”
In the early 1980’s, after Ingraham took over the course, he started a league to equip young people with the skills to play golf. Etiquette, he explains, is the first thing that he would always address.
“I see all these young people who want to learn to play, but they do not yet know the etiquette, and they don’t know where to start,” he says. “I think it’s important to plant the seeds for this generation of young people—these are our future golfers, and a lot of courses don’t want to take the responsibility of teaching them.”
“We are going to bring back that program,” says Gibson with a grin. “It will be a 2-month program where we instruct them one day and have them play the next, so every week they alternate and learn to hone their skills.”
While reinstating this program may sound like a wonderful way to commemorate the course’s anniversary, it is not the only thing that the Bunker Hill team has planned. Gibson is, according to Ingraham, a man of many ideas, and the team has worked tirelessly to bring them to life.
“We recently reopened the restaurant,” he explains, and goes on to attest to the deliciousness of its food. “And, we have been making continuous improvements to the course to help equip us to give back to the community. We fixed up the pavilion, put in additional parking and a stage to hold concerts, reseeded the grass, and geared up to host a lot of fundraisers and community-oriented events.”
Gibson explains that he has just reached the $3 million mark in his years of fundraising endeavors, and though he is the newest employee in the Bunker Hill family, he is excited to begin giving back to the community with his new golf family.
“We will donate the venue for particular events,” says Gibson. “Like, for example, the Special Olympics will take place here this year, and we are ecstatic. For concerts, we would like to have raffles and fundraisers to support particular causes and charities, so each event gives back to the community in a different way.”
90 years in, the future looks endlessly bright for Bunker Hill Golf Course and the Medina County Community. Over the years, it has evolved and undergone various changes, but what has not changed is the sense of family that fuels its success. Located at 3060 Pearl Road in Medina, this golf course is central to the seat of the county. For hours and additional information, visit BunkerHillGolf.com