Crooked Lake in its 91st year

COLUMBIA CITY — If you drive past Magic Hills Golf Course, you will find a field.

Likewise, Willow Ridge Golf Course in Fort Wayne is now a housing addition.

All over Indiana, smaller golf courses are closing for a variety of reasons.

Crooked Lake is not one such course.

This year marks the 91st season for Crooked Lake Golf Course and the tradition is one of the reasons the course is still successful.

“It’s pretty much status quo,” said Ron Bunyan who is one of the owners at Crooked Lake.

Two years ago, former Crooked Lake owner Bill Schumaker attempted to sell the course. Some offers were made but fell through.

Around that time Linn, Tim and Matt Branning were on a fishing trip in Michigan with John Peppler and Charles Dull. They returned from the trip with a plan to buy the course together and included Bunyan in the offer along with Bryan Martin.

Schumaker still provides lessons at the course and works there a few days a week. The course still draws a crowd to its open golf times and there is league play every night.

The course offers different league plays throughout the week. Monday through Thursday nights there are men’s leagues consisting of between 20 and 40 golfers.

There is also a women’s league Monday night and Wednesday mornings and a senior league with about 30 golfers, which plays Tuesday mornings. Friday night features a couple’s league.

Bunyan said, like most courses, Crooked Lake doesn’t see as many kids out golfing. There will be a camp for kids at the course in June that will be run by Meggan Hoag to teach younger golfers some skills and build interest in the sport.

When Magic Hills closed, Crooked Lake was the beneficiary of the golfers who had played there. Because Crooked Lake is a smaller course, it draws in some of the golfers who generally play for fun.

“It’s homey,” said Bunyan of the course. “It has a niche. We’re trying to maintain what we’ve got.”

Like any other golf course Bunyan said daily maintenance is a lot of work. Every day the mowing crew is out somewhere. Bunyan said the crew has moved a couple of trees but other than that, there aren’t any changes planned for the course.

The course at Crooked Lake might not have changed much over the years, but that seems to be just how the golfers who join as members every year like it.

There has been no expansion to 18 holes, no driving range and no lights added for night golf. Instead, Crooked Lake has been able to focus on simplicity and tradition to provide a challenging course to local golfers for almost a century.

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