TROY — In 1953 the Troy Country Club decided to hold a competitive golf tournament for members and guests.
It would be a one-day event, mainly to showcase the sporty 9-hole course and possibly attract some new members.
There would be closest-to-the pin and long drive contests, low net and low gross prizes and, of course, the traditional steak dinner.
Anybody who was anybody in local golf circles played in what became known as Gala Day. It was mostly local players who filled out the fields year after year, but an occasional big-name celebrity sometimes showed up.
And one of those “name” players won Gala Day…twice. Dick LeBeau, the NFL playing and coaching legend, shot 69 in 1963 and 68 in 1965. His annual host, Tipp City’s Doug Kiser, won in 1964.
The winners’ list is long and distinguished. Oldtimers like Max Schaefer, George Hahn, Jimmy Long and Norm McAtee are on it. McAtee, in fact, won in 1976, the year the club course was expanded to 18 holes.
The champions’ list includes Dan Nimer, who won three years in a row at
one point, George Grooms, Ron Lang, Joel Walker, Brad Nimer, Joe Goodall, Jimmy Blackmore, Ty Nimer, Rob Harrelson, Keith McGillvary and Jon Brading.
Col. Robert Lee, stationed at WPAFB at the time, shot 67 to win the first one in ‘53.
Fields have been large and small. There were 150 in 1992, 138 in 1966.
In recent years, Michael Walker has dominated the tournament — as he did again this year, shooting an even-par 70 on Thursday to win by two. At one point he won four years in a row and fittingly, in 2002, he shot a tournament-record 63 to win the 50th Gala Day title. He first won in 1990.
Now there is an open division and senior division.
Zack Allen, Chris Francis and Harrelson all shot 72s to tie for second in the open division. Jason Johnston won the open net division with 58.
John Wright and Dennis Morse were low in the senior division with 80s. Dale Ridenhour was the low net senior with 58.
Mark Allen capped off the day by making a hole-in-one at the 11th with a 4 iron.