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an excerpt from “The Lore and Legends of Landmark”
by Judy Vossler
The Landmark “oak tree” logo is one of the most
recognizable symbols in the world of golf. Over time, the logo has
become synonymous with the highest quality golfing experiences and
creation of remarkable golf clubs in exceptional master planned
real estate developments. What’s the origin of the “oak
tree” logo, and is there a real "Landmark oak tree?"
Landmark Golf partners Ernie Vossler, President, Joe Walser,
Jr., Executive Vice President and Johnny Pott, Senior Vice President,
who are the original founders/developers of Oak Tree Golf Club in
Edmond, Oklahoma, recently sat for an interview and enjoyed telling
the story of their beloved “oak tree” logo…
JOE: It was back in the 1970s,
we were planning and working with Pete Dye on the first golf course
we owned and operated in Oklahoma. After much thought and discussion,
it eventually became Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond.
JOHNNY: Right, it was way out
of town, in the undeveloped countryside with hundreds of stately
oak trees all over the property.
ERNIE: Joe and I were trying
to figure out an emblem for the new golf course development. We’d
just come from a visit to another golf club, and we were wearing
their shirts with a beautiful, detailed logo. I remember thinking
that we’ve got to come up with a distinctive emblem for our
project. Anyway, one day, we were driving down the country road
on the way to our project, and there was a sign that said Deer Creek.
“That’s it!” I thought. “We’ll call
it Deer Creek.” We liked it so much that we went ahead and
ordered some shirts and sweaters with a Deer Creek emblem. We were
so proud to start giving away our new logo shirts; right and left
we were promoting our new golf course development as Deer Creek.
ERNIE: A few weeks later, I
was traveling around the country, looking at other project sites
when Joe called me and asked, "When are you coming home?"
I said, "I’ll be there tomorrow." He said, "Well,
I’ll be there to pick you up at the airport. I’ve got
something to show you." Joe drove us; we got out about three
miles west of our property. We were both getting hungry so Joe said,
"Let’s have lunch at this place up ahead I found."
So we pulled up to what you might call a combination drug store/lunch
counter at one of those broken-down filling stations that that had
one gas pump. Across the street were a few old buildings; the whole
place was really run down. We were sittin’ there having a
sandwich, wasn’t very good, and I never did finish it.
Well, I asked the guy behind the counter, “What’s the
name of this place?” He said, "Why, this here’s
Deer Creek Corner."
JOE: I chuckled and asked Ernie,
"How do you like your name now?"
ERNIE: And I said “I
think we’d better get those shirts and throw them away!"
JOHNNY: That was back in the
JOE: Yes, OakTree opened in
ERNIE: Not long after, Joe
and I were on another trip. We still didn’t have the name
for our project. We decided to stop in Dallas to see a new golf
course that was being built named Bent Tree. We liked it, and they
had a big tree emblem. So Joe said, "What about hole # 5 on
our golf course? We’ve got a classic old oak tree. What about
calling it Oak Tree?"
JOHNNY: The truth is we were
calling that tree "The Mother Oak." We admired that tree
and fenced all the way around it during construction so it wouldn’t
be disturbed. We didn’t want to damage the tree with construction
grading and so forth. We started out building the golf course on
the front nine; that’s where this one special tree sat, right
in the fairway. We routed the golf hole in such a way that you’re
meant to play over it. There weren’t a whole lot of trees
on the front nine of that golf course so this one stood out, for
sure. On the back nine of the golf course, there were plenty of
trees. Those big huge oak trees just kept showing up.
JOE: The next time we were
on an airplane together and had time to talk about the name and
logo, we agreed we ought to name our project OakTree. Then we went
to work on trying to figure out an emblem. We easily agreed; that
specific oak tree on the front nine of the golf course was pretty
similar to what we wanted. Oklahoma has a lot of bad weather, a
lot of wind, rain, lightening, tornadoes, a lot of this, a lot of
that, and a lot of those big old trees get blown down. That particular
oak tree just kept standing. Now, when you look at our “oak
tree” logo today, you’ll notice that it has a few limbs
that have weathered the storms—just like us!!
JOHNNY: And it’s still
there; it hasn’t been knocked down yet! Lightening has hit
it many times. In fact, we insured it and installed a lightening
rod to protect it.
ERNIE: Wonder how old that
oak tree is?
JOHNNY: Man, it’s 30
years later; could be a hundred or hundred and fifty years old by
JOE: Yeah, it’s been
there a long time. That reminds me: years later we were over on
the east coast, building the Ocean Course for the Ryder Cup Matches
at our project on Kiawah Island. They had a lot of trees that looked
like they’d been there forever. I was walking around the project
with some guys. I asked, "What kind of tree is this?"
One local replied, "That’s a benyer tree." I questioned,
"Whadda ya mean, a benyer tree?" He said, "It’s
been here a long time!"
ERNIE: Looking back, one of
the best things we ever did was fall in love with that ol’