The Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents, (MAGCS) founded in 1926 by a small group of Chicago area "Greenkeepers", has progressed over time to include a membership of eight hundred individuals, representing close to three hundred golf courses in the greater metropolitan area.
When founded in 1926 the Purpose of the Association was:
"To Advance the rights and sciences attendant upon pertinent of related to the occupation of green keeping, to unite the green keepers and golf course superintendents of the Chicago Metropolitan area into a cooperative group for the collection, preservation and dissemination of scientific and practical knowledge and information, thus effecting more efficient and economical maintenance for golf courses and thereby improving and enhancing the individual and collective prestige and efficiency of the members; the creation of an instrumentality of entity of record capable and susceptible of procuring all benefits to the members both individually and collectively."
For the most part, this purpose still holds true today. There have been many changes in the "greenkeeping" profession since MAGCS was incepted in 1926 and most were driven by the golf course superintendent to improve conditions of the golf course.
An Association is Born
(excerpts from The Roaring Twenties by John Gurke, CGCS - On Course April 2001)
The 1920s were a time of great change worldwide. At the decade’s onset, America was enjoying the spoils of victory, as the Great War was over and the victorious troops were coming home to enjoy the post-war boom. By the end of the decade, vast fortunes would be lost as the Stock Market crash of October 1929 sent America reeling into a Great Depression felt throughout the country and the world for the next 10 years. Between these two extremes of plenty and impoverishment, an event that has had an impact on every reader this publication servesundefinedthe founding of the Mid-West Greenkeeper’s Associationundefinedtook place on December 24, 1926. This historic date 75 years ago marked the birth of what we know today as the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents.
The story actually begins several months earlier, when, on September 13, 1926, a group of 60 greenkeepers convened at the Sylvania Country Club in Toledo, Ohio and formed the National Association of Greenkeepers of America (NAGA). At that first meeting of the NAGA, officers and directors were chosen to direct the affairs of the fledgling organization. Among these were Colonel John Morley, the association’s founding father and first president, and John MacGregor, the greenkeeper of the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois. When Col. Morley asked John MacGregor to convene superintendents in his area for a meeting with the purpose of organizing the district, John and his family spent two weeks getting notices out (with the help of the Frazer Golf Yearbook) to the 500 clubs in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana. Those 500 invitations attracted 16 interested men to the first meeting, held at the Great Northern Hotel at Jackson and Dearborn Streets in November 1926. Those 16 chose the organization’s first officers and decided upon a name. President John MacGregor, vice-president Alex Binnie (Shoreacres), secretary Ed B. Dearie (Ridgemoor C.C. and Oak Park C.C. superintendent who later went on to a successful career in golf course architecture) and treasurer Fred Sherwoodundefinedall charter members of NAGAundefinedalong with their 12 comrades chose Mid West Greenkeeper’s Association (MWGA) to be our birth name, and planted the seeds from which our 700-member-plus organization has blossomed and flourished through these past 75 years.
From the Ashes Rises the Phoenix
John Morley began his career as a vegetable farmer in his native England. Ohio’s Youngstown Country Club hired Morley in 1913 to provide fresh vegetables for its new menu, a job that led to him becoming the greenkeeper of that club. He was later commissioned with the honorary rank of Colonel by the governor of Kentucky in 1930 when NAGA held its annual conference and show in Louisville. Col. Morley’s directive to John MacGregor and the other charter NAGA members from the Midwest to organize the district was the spark that ignited the founding of our Association. The founding fathers of the Mid-West Greenkeeper’s Association, with MacGregor at the helm, received commission to arrange the first national convention of NAGA, which took place at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago in March 1927 (this would be the site of four future conferences). Some 80 greenkeepers from around the country came by rail and by road to the Windy City for the inaugural conference, and thanks to the hard work of our predecessors, the show was a great success. John MacGregor, the long-time superintendent of Chicago Golf Club, continued to lead the MWGA until 1929, when vice president Alex Binnie from Shoreacres was elected to serve the now 90-plus membership.
MAGCS Presidents 1926 to Present