Anoka County history: Biggest golf event at Greenhaven

Kiwanis Meetings, club meetings, dances, political meetings, conventions, charity events, class reunions, wedding receptions, Junior Chamber Christmas time fund raisers for the needy, and so many more, plus all the golf events.

These are just a few events that took place at Anoka’s Greenhaven.

First and foremost, it is a golf course and in my memory the largest and longest statewide event was the Minnesota Jaycees state high school golf tournament.

It started in 1946 and was held there for 10 years.

Our own Jack Campbell, basketball, track and golf coach, was the state director of the event. The tournament moved to Hutchinson and a few other towns, and then faded away.

The tournament was a big deal in Anoka. Many homes opened their doors to house the 50 some players, due to a lack of motels at that time.

I did a lot of research and got lots of help from Carl Youngquist, who played in the 1956 tournament at Hutchinson.

He gave some names to contact, including George “Red” Reynolds, who played in the 1950 event. George came in third and went on to Ames, Iowa, where the national event took place.

Arch Pease wrote the following in this very newspaper, “George ‘Red’ Reynolds made one of the most amazing comebacks this year in golfing circles to gain third place in the Minnesota Jaycee Junior Tournament.

“George slapped out rounds of 39-43-41 in Friday’s play for a total of 123 for a spot way down the list.

“But George wasn’t out of the running. Saturday he came back.

“A par round of 36 was followed by a one-under par 35 and a two-under-par and copped third place. This was one of the best performances on the local course.”

Other local boys playing in this 1950 tournament were Frank Mork, Jr., Lee Carlson, George Kinney and Jim Kline. Dick Tollette and Jim Flintes played in the last tournament held at Greenhaven, in 1955.

If anyone reading this knows any other Anoka area high school players from 1946 to 1949, or from 1951 to 1955 , I’d like to hear from you.

Golf around Anoka has so much history. Most everyone I talk to has a golf story.

Here is one of mine, even though I don’t even play. When I was 10 years old, my dad took me along with three of his golf buddies, to teach me how to be a caddy.

I got sick because all four were smoking cigars in the car while I was gasping for air.

Maybe that had something to do with the fact that I never became a golfer like my brother and my three sisters.

Before Greenhaven opened in 1937 we only had the Mississippi Golf Course in Anoka Township (now Coon Rapids) which L.O. Jacob opened in 1931. Cal Reynolds (“Red” Reynolds’ dad), Les Mason, Bob Ehlen, Roy Carlson, L.W. Adams, Web Smith, were just a few mentioned in a great booklet written by Bill Peterson back in 1996.

Bill interviewed Lee Carlson and Jim Swisher at that time and wrote a great history of Anoka County’s first golf course.

We have that booklet here at the History Center.

Lee Swisher is the daughter of L.O. Jacob and now lives at Anoka’s Walker Plaza where I live.

There are so many more golf stories but no space left.

Editor’s note: Tom Ward serves on the board of the Anoka County Historical Society.

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