The Wewoka Golf, at 3,330 yards, is known as one of the most challenging nine hole golf courses in Oklahoma. The course was designed by Floyd Farley, originally from Kansas City. Farley came to Oklahoma in 1931, where he filled the position of head professional at Twin Hills Golf and Country Club. At the age of 24, Farley began designing golf courses in Oklahoma. Farley built more golf courses in Oklahoma than Perry Maxwell, who was at that time considered Oklahoma's best-known golf course architect. Farley went on to build golf courses in Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Missouri as well. One of his most unique projects is the course at Wewoka, now known as the Dr. Gil Morgan Golf Course. When interviewed by Mac Bentley in 1997 for the Sunday Oklahoman, Farley stated, "There was a guy who worked for the county named Dean Snider. He was from Texas and he came and talked to me about it. I went down there and we stayed up all one night and laid that golf course out, put it right on paper just like we wanted it, and that's the way we built it. I stayed down there a week and got $1,500.00 bucks for it. They didn't have much money but the sheriff was in on the deal and one day two truckloads of guys were delivered there. They'd arrest 'em, feed 'em and put 'em to work. They just arrested those guys to work on that golf course. And the county commissioner sent all the bulldozers they had, people pitched in and they got it done." Farey was assisted by Bob Dunning of Tulsa, in shaping the greens.
Opening for play on May 30th, 1949, the course was funded from money that was acquired from a $45,000 city bond issue. Much of the labor, equipment and materials used to create the course were donated by the citizens of Wewoka. In Feb 1951, four films were shown in the golf club-house that were an hour and twenty minutes long. Dan Langford, the club pro, showed films that featured well-known golf stars like Sam Sneed, Patti Berg, Dr. Cary Middlecoff and Babe Didrickson Zaharias. Members of the Ladies Golf Day were able to start playing after the winter weather had cleared the way for warmer spring temperatures on March 6th, 1951 and each following Tuesday. The ladies had to make their own parings for nine hole matches. Awards were given once scorecards were turned into the clubhouse in flight one and flight two for low putts. Sometimes a luncheon would be provided for the ladies at noon after their 9 am tee time play had ended.
The golf course has nine holes and covers 88 acres on the east side of Wewoka in a wood-lined area. Several of the holes are designed with tough dog-leg turns and over half have water on them. There are many trees along the fairways that make the course challenging for beginning and experienced golfers alike. Some of the greens are small with difficult slopes that make well calculated and executed approach shots a must. The course record for 18 holes is a 64, which has only been hit twice in the history of the course. Dr. Gil Morgan, a native of Wewoka, was the last to shoot this score. Morgan, a long-time professional golfer and current player on the Seniors Tour, holds occassional golf clinics at the course and is the namesake of the course. The 9 hole course record for was originally set on June 19th, 1960 by Spink Williams, Jr, who scored a 30. It was later tied twice by Chris Conn on August 29th, 2003 and July 2nd, 2004.
The Wewoka Golf Course is named after Dr. Gil Morgan, a professional golfer who was born and raised in Wewoka. Morgan attended East Central State College in Ada and graduated in 1968. He then earned his Doctor of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee in 1972. He turned pro that same year and has won 24 times on the Champions Tour, with three of those wins at Seniors Majors.
Morgan played in his first Masters round in April of 1977. Up to this point, he was a non-winner on the professional tour, but had won $42,035 in official earnings for that season. The previous season he had won $60,000.00 in earnings and was well on his way to passing that amount. His goal was to make $100,000.00 in the 1977 season. Morgan played in Augusta with fellow Oklahomans, Mark Hayes and Danny Edwards. He had a frustrating time at the tournament and came home to Wewoka for a couple of weeks and practiced his game with Richard Norman at the Wewoka Public Course.
Morgan started getting help around this time from verteran golfer Ernie Vossler of Oklahoma City, owner of the newly-constructed Oak Tree Course near Edmond. His putting game was weak during the Masters round and Vossler was assisting him with his putts. At this time, Gil was focussing on qualifying for the U.S Open which was to be played at the Southern Hill Country Club in Tulsa. He had seven tournaments scheduled on the southern swing which would take him to Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis, where he had played previously and did quite well. Morgan was exempt in qualifying in a local round for the U.S. Open, but had to qualify in the regional round in Charlotte.
Morgan then won the B.C. Open in Endicott, New York by shooting 14-under par and that pushed his earnings past the $100,000.00 mark, as his first place finish brought him a $40,000.00 check. Morgan beat Arnold Palmer and Lee Elder, passing them in the second round. Mark Hayes finished 15 strokes behind Morgan and collected $1,244.00. The win was Morgan's first in his three years on the professional tour. The Wewoka city commissioners declared Friday, September 16th, 1977 as the "Gil Morgan Day" and made him an honorary mayor for the day. Mayor Ed Turk wrote and siged the proclamation. His trophy was on display at Norman's Men's Wear in downtown Wewoka.
The following year, Morgan won the Glen Campbell Los Angeles Open at the Riviera Country Club. The victory earned Morgan $40,000.00. He was tied with Jack Nicklaus through the 14th hole, but the Golden Bear fell back on the 15th carding a double bogey six on the par four hole. Nicklaus then bogied the par three 16th to give Morgan some breathing room. The viewers didn't miss a shot as the coverage allowed Morgan and his wife Jeanine to make their televison debut. Gil gave his father credit for his interest in golf stating, "My dad has always been interested in golf. I made up my mind to try a golfing career about the time I finished optometry school."
Morgan won the World Series of Golf and made a substanial donation to the Wewoka Municipal Golf Course. On Sunday, May 28th, 1978, the Wewoka Municipal Golf Course changed its name to the Dr. Gil Morgan Municipal Golf Course. At this point, Morgan had career tour earnings near the $300,000.00 mark. The city had just added a new water tower and Morgan wondered if the additional supply would help the golf course with its plans of adding a sprinkler system. He was very pleased and flattered that the course was named after him. The honor was presented to Morgan at a ceremony that launched the Fred Dancy Memorial Golf Tournament.
Morgan got started playing golf on the Wewoka course. His father, Gilmer Morgan, told of when Gil first became interested in golf in an interview with Bob Hurt. "He was a junior in high school and he came home one day and asked me to help him find his golf clubs," recalled the father. "He hadn't played much golf then. He was too busy with other sports but he had heard the high school team was going to the state tournament the next weekend and he had decided to go." Gil had one week to move from number 11 on the team to number 5 and he accomplished that goal. "That was the only tournament I was in during high school and I shot something like an 85," said Gil. He has many memories from that course but most of his early playing and grooming in the game came while he was attending East Central State in Ada. He was too short to play basketball, and too small to play football on the collegiate level, being 5' 10" and 165 pounds. Gil was encouraged to try the pro tour after becoming an NAIA All-American at East Central State. Morgan went on to attend the Southern School of Optometry in Memphis, and won around 11 golf tournaments in the summers. He tied for third in the Southern Amateur and reached the finals of the Western Amateur. Then, on one occassion, Morgan beat Ben Crenshaw which boosted his confidence with a 5 and 3 victory.
Morgan was playing alot of tournaments in the deep south, and met Bob Carpenter, a real estate man and banker from Bastrop, Louisiana. Carpenter, a former state senator, first saw Gil playing in the Cotton States Open and was impressed with the amateur's ability to hit the ball straight and pure. Carpenter stated, "That got my attention. Then, I got to know Gil. He stayed in my house, played with me in a pro-am. I love him like a son. He's such a fine boy. Don't smoke, drink. Wouldn't lie to you. Wouldn't do anything wrong." Carpenter then formed a syndicate of 10 men to sponsor Gil on the tour, with each supplying $27,500.00 per year for three years and they took 30% of the winnings above the expense money. It was a generous sponsorship and a worthwhile investment for those in the syndicate. Morgan was on his own in the 1976 season, making $61,372.00, and he made $104,817.00 on his own in 1977. In 1978, Morgan won fifth place at the PGA tournament at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburg. He shot five under par in the final round to score a 67. He took home $13,000.00 in prize money. It boosted his yearly total to an all time best of $134,005.00 with one-fourth of the year remaining. He made a hole-in-one on the 245-yard par 2 eight hole. He hit a one iron into the protected green, and his shot flew into the hole for the ace. The finish pushed Morgan into the number nine spot on the PGA Money Winners List. Later that year, Mogan won the World Series of Golf in Akron, Ohio at the tune of $100,000.00. Then in October, he won the Pacific Club masters Golf Tournament by three strokes held in Gotemba, Japan, winning $300,000.00. Morgan has had a very successful run in professional golf. He is currently a Pro at Oak Tree in Edmond, where he and his wife, Jeanine currently reside. Morgan's generous support through the years has helped our course to grow and enable local golfers to enjoy the game they love.
Through the years Wewoka has seen a number of talented individuals who have worked endless hours to make the golf course the best it can be. The first Caddy Master when the course first opened was T.H. "Spink" Williams Jr. He was responsible for training the original caddies, well before golf carts were available. Spink also defeated Dean Snider in a Match Play tournament in 1949. Dean had helped Floyd Farley design the course. One of the first golf pros who was hired to run the course was Dan Langford, who worked at the course in 1951.
Charlie Bland was the golf pro during the mid 1950's. He was married and had two adorable children. Dr. Tom Williams, son of Spink Williams, worked for Bland when he was in high school during the summers in 1953 and 1954. Tom and his wife Darilyn are still very involved with the golf course and oversee the planting and care of an assortment of flowering plants that help to beautify the course.
Another pro was Don Ivey. He was the pro at the course from 1962 through 1971 and he returned for a second run on April 1, 1977. His first line of action in 1977 was to reopen the driving range and begin lessons for individuals and groups. At that time, the Pokkecetu, the Scotch Foursome and the Ferguson Oil Company's Private Tournament were on his slate. They had just planted new "328" grass which was a finer strain of Bermuda. He also oversaw the Fred Dancey Memorial Golf Tournament which was sponsored by the Wewoka Chapter of the Oklahoma Lung Association.
During Don Ivey's lapse as pro, Ken Chesney assumed the role on April 1, 1975. He and his wife Joyce, took up lease on the nine-hole course to try to make it pay its own way. The city of Wewoka sold them a two-year lease for a $1.00 per year fee. They worked hard to build the course back up. Funds were limited to finance course projects due to slim city budgets. Chesney combined the pro-shop, course and cart rentals with no increase in fees from playing. At this point in time there were 130 memberships.
Dave McKinney became the course manager after Ken Chesney left. He was only the course manager for around a year. The course was then ran for one year by the Wewoka Golf Association Greens Committee. Rick Cavender and Richard Norman helped to organize this effort. Each green was cared for by different individuals from the association. At an interview with Phil Brown in July of 2013, he stated that he had hole seven under his charge. He said he stole fertilizer off of Don Ivey and his hole looked better than the others. Phil, Richard and John Norman would steal the water hoses from each other in their attempt to maintain their greens the best. The pro shop was ran by H.B. Ramage and Mr. Coxey.
From 1983 to 2002 Phil Brown was the golf pro at the golf course. He retired after 18 years of service. Phil stated that the greens had a lot of crab grass in them so they applied sand on top of the old greens but that method did not work. Charlie Bland from Tulsa was hired to rebuild them. The Greens Committee and Dave McKinney decided to make the greesn smaller. Bland was going to mix the dirt around the edge of the greens with the sand. Dr. Wayne Hotine was the head agronomist with the OSU Extension Center and the National Green Committe Chairman. He helped with the greens as well. At the time, there were thirteen indiduals on the Wewoka Greens Committee. They planted bent grass and then Charlie Blands work ended. The bent grass looked good initially, but the crab grass germinated and encroached the greens. They had to poisen the greens to kill it and consequently killed everything. Phil Brown and H.B Ramage reshaped the greens and added contours and replanted them and the bent grass grew beautifully. The greens commitee died out when the Wewoka City Council hired Matt Watkins, a new city manager to trun the town. Phil said the he was hired to be the golf pro at around the same time.
Eddie Colbert was the course manager in 2002. He grew up on the golf course and worked for Don Ivey in the 1960's. Eddie and his brother Cletus created a memorial bench for their brother which can be viewed at the front of the course. Bobby died from lung cancer January 25th, 1998. Bobby had worked at the golf course while he was in high school.
Russell Bevelhymer is the current course manager at the Gil Morgan Municipal Golf Course.
The Ladies Golf Association was active for many years and met regulary on Tuesday mornings for a round of golf. The ladies would have a nice luncheon to wrap up the day of play. Often, their meetings were held at the Wewoka Country Club. They also sponsored Scotch Foursomes and prizes were awarded to the winners. They held an annual Wewoka Ladies Golf Association Invitational. They assited with many of the men's tournaments that were held at the Wewoka Public Course as well. The ladies would set up a refreshment stand for golfers to refuel during play at hole 4. They also sold 25 cent chances at the 7th hole for sharp shooting golfers. Another tournament that the women sponsored was the Ladies Golf Guest Day. This tournament brought over sixty women to the course from Guthrie, Bristow, Okmulgee, Wetumka, Holdenville and Shawnee as well as other towns. Prizes were given to the golfer making the longest drive on number one, getting on the circle on number four and seven and for the most accurate drive on number eight. In the early 2000's the ladies hosted the 2 Goys and 1 Doll golf Tournament.
One example of an unusual Scotch Foursome that the ladies group sponsored was on a Sunday afternoon in the late 1970's when the rules for the tournament were for the men to tee off from the ladies's tees and the women to tee off from the men's tees. The main attraction was on the number 1 tee box, where golfers had to sit on a white porcelin commode as they teed off. This awkward positioning produced drives from one foot to 100 yards or more, not to mention laughs and memories to last a lifetime. There was a contest on the number 9 tee box for longest drive for both men and women, and on the number 7 tee box, closest to the hole for men and women. Winners for low gross were Mark Ellis and Madeline Crouch, while Rozanne Turner and John Ramage took second place, and Janis and Randy Brooks placed third. The low net winners were Gene and Denise Stevens, while Shorty and Fay Burk took second and Mary Hague and Lefty Horton finished with third. At a picnic following the tournament, the wives told stories of all the impossible situations thier husbands had put them in, either behind a tree or in a sand trap, as there were no restrooms built on the course yet. That improvement did not come until 1983!
Each year the Dr. Gil Morgan Golf Course hosts the annual Pokkecetu Golf Tournament. "Pokkecetu" is the Creek-Seminole Indian word which means "ball game." This tournament often hosts 120 amateur golfers from many different locations. Traditionally the tournament is held in June but has occassionaly been postponed to later dates in the summer to accomodate for better course conditions. The various flights include the championship flight, president flight, A,B,C,D, and E flights. The tournament runs Friday through Sunday. Below is an excerpt from a 2001 artical written by Margaret Jane Norman, which shares the history of the Pokkecetu.
Norman stated, "Pokkecetu was the name given to the tournament in 1951 by Isaac Walker, a local Seminole Indian and avid golfer. Translated it means "play ball." Walker, along with Albert Norvell, Raymond Reed, Jake Ray and Bat Shunatona conceived the idea for a tournament to promote the newly constructed Wewoka Municipal Golf Course, and raise money to help pay the pro. At that time the course had little more than wheat stubbled fairways when these men dared to see visions and dream dreams. With the aid of the Greens Committee of Bill Biggers, Clair Robbins and Dewey Malloy the idea of a tournament blossomed into a reality and they did indeed play ball in what was to become one of the oldest and longest continuing golf tournaments in the State of Oklahoma. The first Pro-Am format event drew 19 professionals, 105 amateurs and boasted a cash purse of $325.00, according to a story in the Times Democrat in 1951. All of the cash and merchandise prizes awarded winning amateurs were donated and visiting pros were housed in private residences of Wewokans anxious to help the tournament get off to a good start. The Pro-Am format continued through the 1950's with golf notables of the day taking part. Included were Joe Walser, then part owner of Landmark Corporation which owns and builds golf courses, Orville Moody, past winner of the U.S. Open, Terry Wilcox, L.A. Young, Chris Gers, Glen Fowler, Jim Moeller, Stormy Williams, Freddie Schrutchfield, and James Harris." In the 1960's the winners were Jim Wright, R.H. Sikes, Terry Wilcox, Dick Martin, Bruce Wilkerson, Dick Orr, Dennis Ewing, Mark Hayes, Ed Wisdom, and Dwayne Tilley. The winners hailed from Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. In 1970 Gil Morgan, Wewoka was a winner together with Terry O'Toole, Ted Goin, Terry Wilkerson, Ed Wisdom, Rod Kimmel, Terry Collier, and Wewoka golfers Mark Kedy and John Norman. In 1979 the course was closed for rebuilding and in 1980 local players who participated were Duncan Payne, brothers T.G. and Wilbanks Harrison, Andrew Bohannon, Hank Edwards, Ben D. Floyd, Spink Williams, Bob Cotton, Cluke Myers, Ed Norman, Dick Roberts, and Gilmer Morgan."