Jim Gallagher

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Medium: Audio tape
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Place: Meshingomesia Country Club
Collected by: Kelsie Raver (KR)

00:13 KR: Testing. Testing.

00:23 KR: What’s your name?

00:25 JG: My name is Jim Gallagher.

00:27 KR: What’s today’s date?

00:31 JG: It is May the nineteenth.

00:32KR: And where are we?

00:35 JG: We are at Meshingomesia Country Club.

Early Years

00:36 KR: Alright. Where were you born?

00:40 JG: I was born and raised as a youngster in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Western.. Southwestern Pennsylvania.

00:44 KR: cool, and what did your parents do?

00:55 JG: Uh, my dad was a steelworker, worked for Bethel Steel Company, and my mom was just a, uh, a homebody, mother, she raised eight children, four boys and four girls in my family.

1:04 KR: Um, and Um, What do you remember about your childhood? Anything really that was specific that sticks out in the world or..?

1:08 JG: I do remember that at the dinner table it was pretty tough to get a full plate, ha, with eight children around, no it was uh, my parents were very good they taught us a lot of good morals, went to church every Sunday, as a youngster I think the things I remember the most is the reason I am in the golf business today, because I was a caddy, when I was a teenager. I started caddying when I was twelve years old and I caddied until I was eighteen at the country club there and I learned a lot about golf and met a lot of nice people and that’s how I ended up in the golf business.

1:43 KR: Wow. So when did you meet your wife? What’s your wife’s name?

1:47 JG: Uh, I met my wife at a roller-skating rink. Ha. I was a pretty good roller skater believe it or not. Not a very good dancer, but uh I did a lot of roller-skating in in my younger day and we met at the roller skating rink.

1:57 KR: And what’s her name?

1:59 JG: My wife’s name is Mary Jane. And, uh, we have three children. Uh, Jim Junior, Jeff, and uh, Jackie.

2:14 KR: So um, you lived in Pennsylvania before you moved here?

2:18 JG: Mhm.

2:22 KR: Where, um, where did you work what did you do until you moved here?

2:25 JG: I went to I went to a parochial school until eighth grade and then went to a public high school, county school sort of about like Oak Hill, and never had the opportunity to go to college, from a large family dad was a steelworker and made a good living enough to feed us. College was not a priority in those days for large families. I never had the opportunity to go to college, but uh I always wanted to be a golf professional so I taught myself how to be one and uh put myself in and around golf all I could so I could learn what I uh wanted to do in life.

Making It Happen

3:00 KR: very cool. When did you um, first be, or get to be a golf professional?

3:05 JG: well in high school I think uh I don’t know whether they still do this today but in uh in the back of the year book right underneath your picture they asked you what your goals were in life or what you wanted to do and my goal was always to be a professional golfer, and I wasn’t good enough to play professionally. I was good, but not good enough to play professionally like my children. But, uh, I ended up uh, wanting to be a club pro and, and, went to apprentice school and ended up uh becoming a PGA member when I was like twenty-three years old.

  • 12:55KR: Well awesome. What is your greatest accomplishment would you say in your lifetime?
  • 13:03JG: uh..
  • 13:06KR: We can split it into two categories. How about outside of golf and inside of golf?
  • 13:08JG: Ok. Inside of golf probably, my, my greatest achievement was as I said I didn’t go to college so I wasn’t very, I mean I was educated but I was just like anybody else that went through high school. I had a lot to learn in life but I became very active in the Indiana PGA after becoming a full-time member and I, I went through all the different, uh, categories of teaching. I was uh, I was in the employment committee, in a junior program, um, in charge of tournaments and then became the President of the Indiana PGA of two hundred and fifty golf professionals, and I was president three years, and I guess saying it braggingly I was the only three time president of the Indiana PGA. And then was selected into the Golf Hall of, Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, in 19, lets see, 1995 I believe it was. 1996. And so that’s probably my biggest achievements in golf. Outside of golf, um, probably raising three children to be very successful in what they wanted to do and raised them in a family way so that they produced eight great grand, I mean grand children for us. And uh, they’re just great family people themselves. All of ‘em are. All three of them.

Grant County Golf over the Years

3:50 KR: wow. Well um, how have you seen golf change in Grant County since you moved here?

4:00 JG: uh, its changed drastically uh, in fact I was just telling someone the other day that uh, uh, uh I’d like to see more juniors play the game, uh, because there’s access for them today where when I first came to Marion and worked as an assistant it was looked down upon as a junior to come out on the golf course with the grown-ups and even women weren’t welcome 100% on the golf course, today they are. Now golf is more a family game. But back then I had a hard time convincing the uh good people that ran the country club that we needed more juniors and to start a junior program back many years ago and today its payed off because there are a lot of good junior golfers in the county.

4:34 KR: So when did you start working at the country club?

4:39 JG: Came here in May or May 15, 1961 with my wife, uh, we were married just under two years, had a little boy Jim Junior and he was born in March so that’s April, he was only two months old when we came to Marion. And it was tough cause my wife was a young girl and first time leaving the family and we felt like Indiana was a long way from home. It really wasn’t but back then I guess it would have been and neither one of us did much traveling back in the ‘60’s so this is where I ended up as the assistant pro for four years and then I, I took over as the head professional and was head professional for thirty six years.

5:15 KR: wow. Um so.. how do you think that golf has changed in Grant County, like the economy and the community?

5:25 JG: well uh actually I think the economy for golf there’s too many golf courses in the city of Marion and just not enough people playing and back uh, twenty years ago this wasn’t the case. There were enough people to go around to all the golf courses, and if you look at it in like a six or eight mile radius we must have four, five, six, different golf courses and I think that’s what’s hurting today there’s uh other sports such as soccer has become very big, tennis is bigger than it was twenty years ago. And the sports have (cough) sort of distracted the youngsters from playing golf and um I think somehow the pros today have to really get on the ball and start promoting it again because otherwise the clubs are gonna suffer there’s just not enough people playing golf. Its become a little more expensive. Actually when we first came to Marion, golf was a very expensive sport. And then it seemed to go a little bit better from the financial end, to where it wasn’t as expensive, the public golf courses were easier to play on. But now I think the game was gotten a lot more expensive and people are trying to cut corners and that’s one place they’re, they’re doing it.

Raising a Family in Marion

6:39 KR: So, since you’ve um, haha, moved here what are some kind of things you’ve seen in Marion, uh any real big things that have happened in the town or the county, in the state or in the world that you really remember impacted your life, or your children’s lives?

7:01 JG: Well actually, uh, when we first came to Marion, there were a lot of diversified industries in Marion. There were a lot of small factories that employed five hundred, six hundred, people. In fact my oldest sister followed us out here and her husband worked in one of the factories, then uh my second to youngest brother came out and worked in the Paraknight Wire and Cable Company, and also for Central Indiana Gas, so there was, Pennsylvania times were very tough in the late fifties early sixties and the steel mills were uh layin’ people off as they are today in a lot of other industry and there was a lot of work out here so I’ve seen a big change from where I was in Pennsylvania to here there was more industry and the sad thing is in the last ten or twelve fifteen years we’ve lost a lot of those industries. Its hurt the community and uh I think that’s one of the big changes. The other change is that I think that we’ve come from the bottom now and the young people that are running the county and the uh mayor here’s doing an excellent job I think of trying to get industry back into Marion and get it, get it going again.

8:14 KR: How do you see the future in Marion in the next ten, fifteen years, twenty years down the road?

8:20 JG: I feel, I feel like Marion is going to grow with different industries. Its going to have to be different than the factories and then its going to have to be a bit more modern maybe high tech industries. I think we’re uh other cities have been hit with the bad economy. Marion was there five, six seven years ago, and I think we were at the bottom of the latter then and now we have nothing to do but increase and grow. But I see some growth in Marion and my wife and I talk about it we are fortunate enough to go to Florida in the winter and we were trying to decide if we had to stay one place or the other, and we’ve almost decided Marion is where we’d wanna be and maybe get away a little bit in the winter and get away from the snow and ice but Marion’s a great community to uh, raise children in, and, and also for older folks like my wife and I.

9:16 KR: mhm.. where do you see the golf in Marion, the um, in the next ten or fifteen years?

9:23 JG: I, I think we’ve got uh, we’ve got good professionals. Jeff Kistler is now at the Elks, and Jeff is a promoter of golf and Doug Hill who is the general manager here has done a fantastic job for Meshingomesia Country Club. And, and, he’s promoting, uh, not only from the stand point of civic things, but for the club, and the membership, and does an excellent job of serving, and uh I think that uh Walnut Creek I don’t know a whole lot about their operation but, uh, I think they are maybe overwhelmed with two golf courses and maybe only need one and Shady Hills is struggling, like everybody else. Uh, we just don’t have enough people to go around. But uh, I see, I see golf still hanging in there, and growing in the future, I think it’s a matter of, I know I’ll do everything I can to promote it. I helped start the YMCA Junior Program twenty years ago at uh at the Y and uh its been very successful and we continue to have that which should help grow.. grow the golf game but what we gotta do is get the young people to go to college and come back, and wanna come back to Marion. I don’t know how we can quite do that but that’s one of the necessities I think.

Family Life

10:40 KR: Now you have three children, what do they do now? Where are they?

10:45 JG: All three of our children at one time, were professional players. Uh Jim Junior played the tour, the PGA tour, for almost twenty years. Jeff played on and off of the PGA tour. He lost his card a couple times but he played what was then the Ben Hogan Tour, then the Nike Tour, and now the Nationwide Tour. And he’s a full, full, uh member of the Nationwide this year playing. Jackie, uh, is married with two children and uh she played the LPGA tour for almost fourteen years. Uh, she’s not playing regularly this year because she’s not on the ninety exempt list but she’s playing this week in New York, and hopes to play a little bit this summer. All three of them play professionally which is very, very unique.

Future Plans

11:32 KR: wow that is unique. So, um, where do you see yourself in the future?

11:36 JG: Haha, well um, I’m seventy one years old.

11:39 KR: I know you said here but..

11:40 JG: Huh?

11:41 KR: I know you said here but..

11:43 JG: Uh I really really enjoy spending time here at the club, I’m called the golf ambassador at Meshingomesia Country Club and I enjoy coming back in the summer spring and summer months to help uhh I help the superintendent a little bit on the golf course trying to keep the tee stations in nice shape and uh raise cane with the members when they don’t fix their ball marks and divots. And then I help the professional Doug Hill, when they have the big outings I try to help greet the people, and help set up for them, so um, I think as long as they want me to I’d come back here. I enjoy spending the summers and still enjoy working with, uh, I work with a number of students, that are not members of Meshingomesia, I work with outside people so I don’t interfere with Doug Hill and his income. But I have, I have, a couple girls that are playing very well in college, and I had some boys in college. But uh Andrew Rose just graduated from ball state, worked with Andrew and K.C. Cain, is now gonna, she just finished her freshman year at Ball State. I enjoy working with youngsters, teenagers and college kids.

  • Those statements with asterisks were originally said here during the interview.

14:33 KR: well good. Thank you so much for this interview. And I think that we are done.

14:37 JG: Thank you!

  • Times with asterisks preceding them indicate that this question was rearranging for flow and understanding of the document.


This interview was conducted and transcribed by Kelsie Raver. It was submitted on May 21, 2009 to Mr. Munn's IU ACP History class.