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Having a little difficulty negotiating the annual golf trip with the bride during these difficult economic times? Getting a little push back?This is no time to throw in the towel or wave the white flag. Heck, golf trips are as American as picnics and maple baskets and should not be forsaken. This is the time to get truly creative.  Let’s think this out; American, golf, picnics and maple baskets? How about a little win-win for you and the Missus? What a concept. Wait a minute. I’ve got it. We’ll go to Central Ohio and visit The Longaberger Company – America’s premier maker of handcrafted baskets – and the Longaberger Golf Club. That ought to do it. Not only will you get to play golf, but the bride just might find herself developing a small business to ward off the economic ghouls and balance the books at home.

The Longaberger Company, a family owned and operated basket and home furnishings business headquartered in Newark, Ohio, is a true American success story. Its history dates back to the late 19th century when J. W. Longaberger took up the art of basket making at the Dresden Basket Factory where he would also meet his future bride, Bonnie Jean Gist. The Depression claimed the basket factory but J. W. continued to make baskets on the side while working at a paper mill whilst he and Bonnie were growing a brood of 12 children.  In 1934, a fifth child was born to J.W. and Bonnie — Dave Longaberger. Early in life, Dave had three strikes against him. His family was economically disadvantaged, he stuttered so badly people had difficulty understanding him, and he had epilepsy in a time when the condition was not widely understood. His difficulties caused him to delay his high school graduation until age 21.

His handicaps drove him to succeed in business. He bought and developed a dairy bar and then a super market in the small town of Dresden. During that time he fathered two daughters, Tami and Rachel, and insisted they work in the family businesses as they grew up.  In the early 1970s, Dave noticed that baskets were becoming very popular,noticed that many department stores were beginning to sell imported baskets. Dave wondered if people would appreciate baskets like the fine handcrafted ones his father used to make. So he asked his father to make a dozen market baskets, and placed them in his store. They eventually sold! J.W. made several dozen more baskets. Sadly, however, J.W. died at the age of 71, just as the family trade was being renewed.

Dave knew he was on to something with his All-American made baskets, so he bought a dilapidated brick mill building in Dresden where his mother had worked as a young woman and expanded the manufacturing of baskets.  He tried different ways to sell baskets at malls, department stores and other retail outlets, with varying degrees of success. In 1978, Dave discovered that the most effective way to sell the company’s baskets was not through retail outlets but through home shows, where an educated home consultant could show Longaberger baskets and share the history and explain the craftsmanship that each basket holds. Each and every Longaberger basket is signed and dated by the basket maker who crafted it, a testament to the quality and care. The Longaberger Company’s direct sales organization was born.

In 1984, Tami Longaberger joined the company after graduating from The Ohio State University (you have to say The) and Dave appointed her President in 1994. Today, Tami is CEO and leads a company that is providing a Longaberger home business opportunity to tens of thousands of women nationwide.  Ever the visionary, Dave was free to look into other opportunities. He hit upon the idea of building a golf course with the thought that the husbands of the nearly 45,000 women sales representatives, or, as the company calls them, home consultants, could play golf while their wives made regular pilgrimages to company headquarters. He also believed that a high-quality golf course would provide yet another reason for people to travel to this picturesque region of southeast Ohio. With the vision in view he went out and amalgamated several parcels of land in the rolling farm country of nearby Nashport, Ohio.

Staying close to home again, Dave hired renowned architect Arthur Hills, from Toledo,to design.  Having given up the game in frustration years ago, Dave asked Art Hills to design a course that while challenging, didn’t beat up the average golfer and Hills does not disappoint. Sometimes an architect is handed a glorious piece of land to craft into a golf course where the major challenge is to not screw it up. Hills not only didn’t screw it up, he has done a superb job of utilizing the rolling countryside providing challenge, variety and scenic vistas on every hole. Sadly, Dave Longaberger didn’t live to see the opening of the golf course, passing away just prior to opening on St Patrick’s Day 1999.

Since opening 11 years ago, Longaberger Golf Club has rightfully earned accolades such as No. 1-rated course in Ohio by Golfweek and GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S.  The spectacular clubhouse sits high on a hill with vast views of the countryside and issuperbly managed by Billy Casper Golf. They offer outings, banquets and stay-and-play specials. As an aside, if there is a young woman in your life that has aspirations in business then you should take her to meet Tami Longaberger in Ohio. Your young woman could not find a better businesswoman to model herself after than Tami.

While in the Columbus area other golf offerings worth partaking in are Cumberland Trail Golf Club, a Mike Hurdzan/Dana Fry layout in nearby Pataskala that offers friendly service, superior conditioning and lightning quick greens. If you think you have game and are a golf design aficionado, The Scarlet Course, owned by The Ohio State University, is for you. Originally designed by legendary architect, Dr Alister MacKenzie, of Augusta National and Cypress Point fame in 1939, it was recently renovated by OSU’s favorite golfing son, Jack Nicklaus. Featuring more

Longaberger Golf Clubbunkers than the Germans had at Normandy, it is brutishly difficult from tee to green and if you think you might get some respite on the greens,

better think again, because the speed and slopes will challenge every chip and putt. The Scarlet Course is private but is worth trying to finagle a way to the first tee.  There is a lot of talk these days about cheap imported products and the decline of American manufacturing and the loss of American quality products. If you believe that way then go to Ohio and support a high quality American manufacturing business at The Longaberger Company. Oh, and you will get to play some really good golf while you’re there.


 

 

longaberger.com or longabergergolfclub.com or 740-322-5000

cumberlandtrailgc.com or 740-964-9336

ohiostategolfclub.com or 614-459-4653

 

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