A Brief History of Bent Oak Corporation
In 1980 Bob Dutton and Gary Keaffaber began pursuing their interest in owning a golf course. After looking at several courses in several different states they made a decision to design and construct a golf course in Elkhart.
Three years of searching for land came to an end in late summer of 1983 when they located and purchased 202 acres at this site. The original plan was to build a course and a few residential sites in the county. It was immediately determined that the clay soil on the land would not support the quantity of housing that had been planned so the plans were altered.
The decision was made to annex the 202 acres into the city of Elkhart which would make city sewer and water available allowing a higher density of housing, but at a much higher overall construction cost than would have been if it were constructed in the county. Dutton and Keaffaber began searching for additional investors to provide adequate funds and within two months had put together a “development group” consisting of fourteen people.
Keaffaber designed the course and John Weaver, a local engineer, finalized the complex layout of residential areas, water, sewer, streets and etc. The work was done at a very rapid pace and by early spring of 1984 all permits had been obtained, all engineering completed and work began.
The schedule for construction called for a completion of the golf course to a point where it could be seeded starting August 27, 1984 and an opening day for golf play on June 15, 1985. Bob Dutton was in charge of construction and Sam Schrock was hired as Greens Superintendent. Land clearing began as soon as the frost was gone and several outside contractors were hired. These outside contractors included Arco Engineering, Rieth Riley, C & E Excavating, Elkhart Trenching, Dolph Excavating, GP Construction, Zehr Construction, two well drilling companies, a geologist, Nipsco, I & M Electric, Weaver Engineering, Atec Engineering, Miller Construction and many more.
The production schedule called for the overall construction in less than one year and to accomplish this required a major co-ordination of all crews. In July of 1984 for a period of about two weeks there were twenty seven different contractors working on the premises. “What a nightmare”.
Work progressed, the maintenance building was completed, the clubhouse was completed and by the end of August we were right on schedule and ready to seed the course. We began seeding and it started raining. For the next two months the longest period without rain was 72 hours. We recorded 21.75 inches from August 27 through November 10, 1984 and further confirmed the official local rainfall with the Elkhart Sewage Disposal Facility who recorded 19.5 inches. This was the most rainfall on record for this period of time.
We continued filling wash outs and re-seeded most of the greens and tees and a number of fairways and roughs. (Tee No. 11 was devastated with water damage on five separate occasions). The rains began to subside and in late October and early November we began mowing.
The first official round was played on Friday June 14, 1985 and the official opening day was Saturday, June 15, 1985. Many who played that opening day are still members and continue to support The Club. Thank You Very Much.
Yes, we met our schedule. We constructed a golf course, buildings, streets, city water and sewers, provided facilities for 169 residential lots and 17.5 acres for future development and worked under the most adverse weather conditions ever recorded in Elkhart for this time of year.To have done this is a tribute to all those good people who worked long and hard to accomplish this task. To all of THEM and to all our MEMBERS our heartfelt THANKS.