EDMOND, Okla. – Few outside the golfing community know the name Joe Walser, Jr., but his impact on Oklahoma and the game of golf was immeasurable.
Walser built several golf courses around the country. Some – like Oak Tree National in Edmond – are world-famous.
Saturday the local golfing community gathered at Oak Tree to honor Walser, a man whom many called a visionary.
“What he did was something no one’s ever done. It goes farther than the Oklahoma golf community – it’s the world,” Steve Kimmel said.
Steve is the golf director at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond.
“Everyone thought [Walser] was crazy. No one could believe he’d come out to this farm land and design and do something that’s of national renown,” Kimmel said.
Oak Tree National opened in 1976 and just 12 years later the quality of the course helped bring the PGA Tour to Oklahoma for the first time.
In 2006 the tour returned with the Senior Open.
“Most of those [PGA] events bring $20-$30 million to the city,” Kimmel said.
Friends and family also remember Walser as a kind and good person.
“He was a wonderful dad, a wonderful husband and a wonderful brother-in-law to me,” Smokey Davidson said.
Walser passed away in May after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
He was 79 years old.