|1905 - 1969 - Thanks to the Marchi Family Providing this Material - Photos Below|
Gene Marchi's association with the golf business spans more than half a century. The last 40 years of it at Miami Valley Golf Club.
As a lad of Ten years, he started as a caddy at Upper Arlington Golf Club in his hometown of Columbus. He toted bags at that 9-hole layout until moving to Scioto CC when it opened two years later. Gene stayed on as a caddy at Scioto throughout his high school days.
After graduating from high school, Gene stayed at Scioto CC for two more years, working in the pro shop. His duties were primarily cleaning clubs and doing minor repairs. He left his job at Scioto to work in a tire manufacturing plant where the pay was higher. A year of factory work didn't agree with Gene physically and he returned to the golf business.
At that time Charlie Lorms was the head pro at Columbus Country Club and his assistant was Francis Marzolf. They hired Gene to assist them in their pro shop. It was under their direction that he learned to repair and make golf clubs. He recalls that in those days golf clubs were ordered in pieces, assembled and adapted to the individual player at the golf shops. Two years after starting his apprenticeship he moved up to the assistant pro ranks when Mr. Marzolf left to take a head professional job.
In April of 1930, Gene began at Miami Valley GC as the assistant pro to Jim Noble. If you recall that the 1930's were the depression years, and Gene remembers just how tough things were at times at Miami Valley Golf Club. For five years Gene and his wife Vera lived upstairs in the club house. Along with his duties in the pro shop he acted as assistant manager, night watchman, housekeeper, and filled in for the manager when he was away on a business trip. E. R. Randolph was the president of the club as well as manager in those days and was often out of town on business trips. The club was closed during the winter months but was sometimes rented out to groups for various functions. Gene, J. C. Wortham, Andy Reynolds, and Robert Mac Gregor were the only full-time employees during much of this time. They tended bar, washed dishes, painted, mopped floors-anything to help Mr. Randolph keep the club operating.
In 1936 Gene was named the head golf professional at Miami Valley. During the intervening years he served as golf course superintendent for 17 years and was pressed into service as club manager for a year and a half during World War II and again for a few months during the spring of 1969.
Members remember Gene primarily as our golf pro, many of the members took their first swing at a ball under Gene's supervision. Many of the rest of them owe the improvement in their golf scores to his advice on the lesson tee. Gene was widely respected in the area as a fine teacher of golf for both high and low handicap players. Bob Servis, five times Ohio amateur champion and Ruth Pickrel, many times the Dayton Woman's champion, are two of his more accomplished students. However, Gene took as much interest in the higher handicapper. He got a great deal of satisfaction out of a report of a good score by a member in a friendly round especially after a recent lesson from Gene.
Gene Marchi took an occasional fling at competitive golf himself. The Western Open was held at Miami Valley GC in 1931, and the first round was led by the great Walter Hagen with a 68. The assistant pro from the host club was tied for second with a 71. The famous newscaster, Lowell Thomas, made note of this fact on his nationwide radio broadcast the night of the first round. Gene went on to shoot 77-73-74 to finish in the money.
Six National PGA tournaments included Gene among the contestants. He qualified five times in 36-hole tests in the area and automatically as host pro when the PGA Championship was held in 1957. His most memorable PGA tourney was held at Shawnee on the Delaware in Pennsylvania. During several practice rounds on the course, he had trouble breaking 80 undaunted by his poor play, he went out in the qualifier and shot 72-73 to tie for sixth place with Gene Sarazan. He faced Buck White, a regular tour player in those days, in his first match. One down going into 18, he squared the match and went into extra holes. On the first extra hole, Gene was on the green in regulation about 10 feet from the cup, while White was over the green facing a tough downhill chip. White's chip rolled into the cup for a birdie and Gene missed with his 10-footer. He was particularly disappointed because, had he defeated White, his next match would have been with Sam Snead.
Gene and his partners captured many Pro-Am titles over the years. He won the Ohio Pro-Am with Bob Servis as a partner at a course in Columbus in the late 30's and again at Miami Valley in 1948 teamed with Jim Herman. He competed in the PGA of America’s Senior events in Florida each winter, and always gives a good account of himself in his age group.
Gene played an active part in the Professional Golfers Association throughout his career. He, along with Tommy Bryant, organized the Southern Ohio section of the PGA. Gene was president of the Southern Ohio section in 1949 and 1950. In 1954 thru 1956 he was a vice president of the PGA of America. In 1956 he was honored as the golf professional of the year by the Southern Ohio section of the PGA. A heart attack in 1958 somewhat curtailed his outside activities he passed shortly after in 1969 at the age of 64, just two weeks after his retirement.
Gene Marchi was inducted posthumously into the Southern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame in 1997.