Palestine club marks a century

Morning Journal/Chris Rambo East Palestine Country Club superintendent Rick Kyler stands next to a sign recognizing the East Palestine Country Club’s 100th anniversary.

NEGLEY–East Palestine Country Club has always been a second home for superintendent Rick Kyler.

“I grew up 100 yards away from the course,” Kyler said. “I’ve worked here on and off since I was 7 years old. It’s always been a special place to me.”

Kyler, now in his 21st year as superintendent, is helping steer one of the oldest golf courses in the area into its second century of existence.

East Palestine Country Club will be celebrating its 100th anniversary over the weekend of August 17-18, complete with a variety of games, prizes and discounted golf for the public.

Rates for that weekend will be $20 for 18 holes and a cart. There will also be a $5,000 prize for the first golfer to get a hole-in-one on the par-three 13th hole as well as dozens of gift baskets highlighted by a 43-inch flatscreen TV. The club’s traditional member picnic will take place on Sunday, August 18.

The club currently has 97 members. Since it’s establishment in the fall of 1919 with a group of 300 original founders, it has operated as a semi-private venue. It is owned by shareholders but open for the public to play.

Treasurer Walt Herriot said one of the keys to the club making it 100 years has been the loyalty of its customers.

“We get a lot of people not only from East Palestine, but also from the East Liverpool and Beaver Falls (Pa.) areas. There are a lot of loyal golfers who come here often,” Herriot said. “We depend on the public to play here.”

Beginning in 1921, as golf’s popularity was starting to greatly expand across the country, East Palestine Country Club became ready for play, starting with a three-hole setup. Six more holes were added by 1926, giving the course the nine-hole layout it maintains today. Of the original nine holes, eight of them are still in use.

“The old second hole (a blind par-three) is the only one that was discontinued,” Kyler said. “The rest are all original.”

Over the years, Kyler said a new green was put in on the sixth hole and various bunkers and new tees have been added. Each hole has separate teeing areas for the front and back nine.

In Kyler’s estimation, both the pro shop and the clubhouse have been around since the 1920s.

“The only major thing they’ve done to the clubhouse is that they used to have a porch facing to the south,” Kyler said. “At some point in time, they closed that and expanded the inside. Over the years they also added lockers to the basement.”

One of the biggest improvements the club made was replacing its wells with an irrigation system in 1994 thanks to a deal with the neighboring XL Sand and Gravel Company.

“XL Sand and Gravel wanted to know if they could mine seven acres of our land,” Herriot said. “That mining gave us access to their water and they let us pump it to the course.”

Through all the years, running the course has been a labor of love for Kyler and his team, and he takes great pride in helping maintain it for the next generation of golfers.

“I don’t know of any other courses in our area that have been around this long other than Beaver Valley Golf Club (which opened in 1898),” Kyler said. “It’s really cool to be part of a course that’s been here this long.”