Fifty Three years ago, the Santiam Golf Course was barely a dream. A group of seven men from the Sublimity, Aumsville and Stayton communities were instrumental in transforming their vision of a community golf course into a reality. These men wanted the golf facility to provide good golf, fun and entertainment for the families and friends of the area and to always remain affordable in price. In the meantime, inquiries to the Chamber of Commerce regarding golf facilities in the immediate area were becoming more frequent. Fortunately, a landowner of approximately 110 acres, Norm Peak, posted his land for sale. And after some negotiations, a deal was struck and arrangements to purchase the land were under way. Bill Gehlen, an attorney, filed the necessary papers with the Oregon Secretary of State recording Santiam Golf Club as a non-profit corporation, thus becoming Santiam Golf Club, Inc. Shares of stock at $257, plus 40 hours of labor, were offered to those closest to the project. After that, shares were sold at approximately $350 per share with the same 40 hours of donated labor attached as a condition of share purchase price.
On March 4, 1957, these seven founders: A.J. Frank, Roy Phillipi, William Gehlen, John D. Davis, Walter D. Miller,Harmon Drushella and M. L. Morey, all golfers, were recorded as the first directors of the new corporation they had founded and directed. Although, originally, the Santiam Golf Club board consisted of 12 members, this number created too much confusion and eventually the board membership was lowered to seven members.
The land was covered with brush and small trees. The designer of the course, Fred Federspiel, a golf architect, along with a couple of the founders, walked the land laying out the placement of the tees and greens according to the course blueprint.
Bill Rauscher, a nearby neighbor, was hired to use his small “Cat” with a heavy disc to break up the soil and tear up roots. Stockholders of the new organization formed a human line across the fairways to pick up sticks and roots, which they moved down the line into a pile and later burned. They did this on all fairways of the original nine. Most of this work was done evenings after the regular workday.
Rauscher used his small Cat to push soil together to form the basic greens and tees. Then teams of five or six men per green with shovels were assigned to form final shapes. The greens surfaces were spaded to the depth of the shovel and to facilitate cup placements in the finished greens all rocks were removed down to the size of pea gravel.
The work went along throughout the summer. In or about September, Rauscher formed the newly cleared fairways and roughs. The grass seed was sown on all the worked surfaces and the greens were ready for play the forthcoming spring!
While the course was being prepared, the first clubhouse was being built. Luther Nokelby, with the help of other stockholders, was in charge of construction. The building consisted of a pro shop, storage area, small kitchen, coffee bar and clubroom. Sometime after the first nine opened a dining room named the Sandtrap was added.
In the early 1960s, the board approved the expansion of the course to eighteen holes. To finance the cost of the new nine, a loan of $40,000 was secured from First National Bank of Oregon.