May 17, 2010
Golf course marks 50th year
Knickerbocker Country Club rebuilds clubhouse after fire in Aug.
CINCINNATUS — Sitting Saturday inside the newly renovated Knickerbocker Country Club, owner Henry Knickerbocker said the fire that partially destroyed the clubhouse in August 2009 never stopped business.
Knickerbocker, whose family built the golf clubhouse in 1960, reflected on 50 years of business that has flourished over the years despite setbacks.
“The reception from people was exceptional. They never quit playing golf,” Knickerbocker said of business since the fire.
The insurance company estimated $150,000 worth of damage, Knickerbocker said.
Renovations entailed a new ceiling on the building, new carpeting and painting inside the clubhouse and construction of a new back kitchen as well as a covered patio deck out back that was built where the golf carts used to be stored.
The renovations were completed in November 2009 and a new cart shed was constructed in April.
The fire started in the engine of a golf cart that was parked near the back of the clubhouse, quickly spreading to the nearby carts and building.
It destroyed the roof and rear of the building and nine carts.
Knickerbocker built the new cart shed away from the rear of the clubhouse to separate the carts from the main building.
“The people love it. They like the roof on the back which is different. People can sit out there and relax,” Knickerbocker said of the renovations completed by Willet-based ACE General Contracting.
Knickerbocker said the club has flourished over the years because of wise business planning.
“We started out with nothing: $10,000. And we never borrowed any money and never owed any money. We did a little bit every year, gradual improvements,” Knickerbocker said.
Knickerbocker also attributed the club’s success to help from his first wife and sons.
The 75-acre golf course is now an 18-hole course. Originally it was nine holes but like the other improvements, the additional holes were added gradually over the years.
The course was once part of the family’s farmland. Knickerbocker recalls bulldozing some of the land to build the course.
“It was a lot of work and as I look back on it, I don’t know how I did it,” Knickerbocker, who will turn 86 in June.
The course bears the family name in honor of Knickerbocker’s two brothers, Richard and Malcolm, who were killed in action during World War II. Malcolm died at the age of 21 in January of 1944 and Richard died in May the same year at the age of 22.
Knickerbocker himself was a nose gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber, operating a machine gun in an enclosed cockpit on the nose of the airplane.
“We never tried to compete with other golf courses. If we’d get 10 golfers that was good or 80 that was good. That’s the way we ran it,” Knickerbocker said, saying the same holds true today.
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