History of the Women's Akron District Golf AssociationServing a Golf Experience for Women Since our Founding in 1925
Founded in 1925
The place was Portage Country Club. The time was April of 1925. Representatives of seven country clubs of the greater Akron area met to form the Women’s Akron District Golf Association (W.A.D.G.A.). Member clubs in this initial year were Brookside Country Club (Barberton), Brookside Country Club (Canton), Congress Lake Club, Fairlawn Country Club, Portage Country Club, Rosemont Country Club and Silver Lake Country Club (I). The following year (1926) Alliance Country Club became the eighth member club and in 1929 Shady Hollow Country Club joined the association. It is likely that women from several of these clubs participated in inter-club competition prior to District’s formal organization. By 1930 a set of by-laws had been approved.
The first chairman of District was Mrs. R. S. Leonard of Portage Country Club. Included is a quotation from the early District records, a copy of which was given as a gift to District around 1979 to 1980. “The 1925 season of W.A.D.G.A. was a most interesting and successful year and we wish to thank Mrs. Leonard for the business-like manner in which she organized and handled all the affairs and for the organization of our association.” This was signed by District Secretary, Ethel Murdock, a member of Portage.
The early format of W.A.D.G.A. play included team matches – each of several clubs fielded a team. There were also invitational tournaments in which women of member clubs could play by paying an entry fee of $ .50. Through 1963 the District Championship was match play. For each of these years the tournament lasted from four to six days. There was often a practice round on Sunday fashioned as a pro-am and an am-am. A qualifying round was then followed by match play. The first champion of District was Mrs. E. A. Bedell of Fairlawn Country Club.
Since the year 1964 our District Championship has been medal or stroke play. Six of our thirteen current member clubs have had District Champions through the years. Mrs. Donald Peppard (Betty Kerby) has thirteen District Championships to her credit. The first win was in 1947 as a member of Fairlawn Country Club and the most recent was in 1983 as a Brookside Country Club member. Next is Suzi Spotleson from Brookside Country Club, who has won eleven times since 2000. Mrs. Ned Oldham (Karen) of Congress Lake Club has won ten District Championships from 1973 through 1998. Her last District Championship in 1998 was as a member of Portage Country Club. Mrs. Paul R. Milton (Pat) is an eight time Champion from Portage Country Club spanning the years 1985 to 2006. She last won the District Championship as a member of Silver Lake Country Club in 2006. Mrs. John Whitacre, Jr. (Pauline Frey) is a six time District Champion from Brookside Country Club. Her first win was in 1964 and the last was in 1999 at the age of 70. Eva Shorb was a Champion five times between 1935 and 1941. Eva is better known as Mrs. Tom Weiskopf, the mother of a son whose name we recognize from the pro ranks. Mrs. Weiskopf’s club was Elmwood Country Club in Massillon. It is interesting to note that thirty of the District Champions have been members of Brookside Country Club, eighteen from Congress Lake Club, fifteen from Portage Country Club, and ten from Fairlawn Country Club and Firestone Country Club.
Only three of the early member clubs have had continuous membership in W.A.D.G.A. They are Fairlawn Country Club and Portage Country Club since 1925 and Shady Hollow Country Club since 1929. The other nine clubs are Alliance Country Club, Brookside Country Club (Canton), Congress Lake Club, Country Club of Hudson, Silver Lake Country Club (II), and Westfield Country Club. Fox Meadow Country Club and Weymouth Country Club (Medina) joined in 2001. In 2011, Ohio Prestwick Country Club was added as a new member and in 2021, Medina Country Club rejoined after a seven year absence. Many other clubs have been members in past years – Elmwood (Massillon), Firestone (Akron), Brookside (Barberton), Breathnach (Cuyahoga Falls), Lakeside Shrine (Canton), Silver Lake (I), Aurora Golf and Country Club (Aurora), Rawiga Country Club (Medina), Walden Golf and Tennis Club, Glenmoor Country Club (Canton), Rosemont (Akron), and briefly Orchard Hills (North Canton).
It seems that our predecessors were active and stalwart golfers in several ways. Although the ladies tees were used for invitational tournaments, the regular tees were used in District Championships. The team matches and the invitational tournaments were to be played rain or shine. Tournaments were well attended. In 1941 Brookside (Canton) hosted 106 District members for an invitational tournament. Today the clubs are hosting an average of 55 players for each tournament.
Competition was carried out by W.A.D.G.A. all but four of the years since 1925. Play was discontinued during the war years of 1943 to 1945 when there was a rationing program. The association was inactive in 1951 due to lack of interest in District play.
But by 1953 a new era had begun. At this time Mrs. Edward S. Kerby (Betty) of Fairlawn was elected District president, in which capacity she served for nine years. Many changes were made in the association and its golf programs during these years, including handicap stroke play by class, Fun Day and the Seniors Tournament. Today, Opening Day and Closing Fun Day are team play and all other events are Low Gross/Low Net stroke play in flights.
In 1956, Mrs. Carl F. Beck, Sr. was awarded an Honorary Life Membership to the Board of W.A.D.G.A. Mrs. Beck (Maude) served as president from 1936 to 1939 and was an active supporter of District through the years.
For twelve years beginning in 1962, District sponsored “The Ellen Semchuck Memorial Tournament.” Entry fees were donated to the Akron Cancer Fund. Mrs. Ben Semchuck (Ellen) was a District member from Firestone Country Club.
The next big change began in 1986, when the index and slope systems were introduced. On May 15, 1986, District fielded two teams of four to be trained in the slope system at Mayfield Country Club. By 1988 play was to be based on a handicap index and slope system rather than the regular handicap as in the past. Nothing really changed as a member could only use an index equal to a 25 handicap at their club for acceptance into W.A.D.G.A. But now the players could be put into flights because their index would allow for different handicaps at the different clubs. By 1990 an Index of 24.0 was introduced for the members’ acceptance into W.A.D.G.A. Today, members must have an Index of 28.0 as of May 1 each year in order to be eligible to join W.A.D.G.A.
Many women have contributed in a number of ways during District’s history since 1925. We owe a debt of gratitude to these predecessors who laid the ground work for the golf activities and fellowship which we enjoy today. “Let us accept the challenge to continue to promote the best interests of women who enjoy the game of golf.” This brings us to the purpose of W.A.D.G.A. “The Women’s Akron District Golf Association shall exist to promote the best interests of golf and to conduct any and all golfing activities scheduled by the Executive Board of the Association.”
- Silver Lake Country Club (I) was a member club of W.A.D.G.A. prior to 1946. Silver Lake Country Club (II) was formed in 1958 and became a District member club that year.
- Aurora Golf and Country Club (Aurora) was a member from 1998 to 2009.
Rawiga Country Club (Medina) was a member from 2001 to 2010.
Glenmoor (Canton) was a member from 1994 through 2012.
Medina Country Club discontinued its membership at the end of 2013 through 2020. They rejoined in 2021.
Club Walden Golf and Tennis was a member from 1985 through 2016. Rosemont Country Club closed in January, 2020.
- The first Fun Day was in 1953 and the first Seniors Tournament was in 1957.
The original history was prepared by Mrs. F. Stuart Wilkins (B.J.) to present at the sixtieth anniversary of W.A.D.G.A. It was brought up to date in 2002 by Mrs. Donald Peppard (Betty) and Mrs. David Cassel (Jackie) and updated again by Madelon Sprague in 2012. It was updated in 2017 by Mrs. Randall Hunt (Ann) and Mrs. Warren Hackett (Gail). Since 2017, Gail Hackett has continued to update as needed.