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RTP Golf League : History

 

The NT Golf League (NTGL) was started in 1981 by a group of mostly Marketing and Engineering employees in the Research Triangle Park facility. In 1981 the league had approximately 100 members and has grown over the years to as high as 300 members. Early on, all matches were played at Lakeshore golf course (located near RTP). As the overall RTP area company employment grew during the early 1980's, so did the NT Golf League membership. By 1985, there were over 200 members and by 1987, there were approximately 300 members who were playing matches on four RTP area golf courses. Since then, the NT Golf League membership has fluctuated with changes in the RTP employment base.

The highly successful growth of the NT Golf League during the 1980's was not without problems. In 1985, a computer program was developed to alleviate the burdensome process of computing weekly handicaps for the players by hand. Also in 1985, a second course (Hillandale) was added to enable more members to participate. In 1987, a third course (Lochmere) was added and a "Scratch League" group was introduced to enable many of the more skilled players to compete weekly without using handicaps. In 1997, a new course, The Crossings, was added as a sixth night for league play.

In 1987, the job of maintaining handicaps and statistics was split from the league Secretary's position and a league "statistician" was hired. The concept of having "Nightly Coordinators" for each course and day's respective group of golfers was also introduced. In 1988, the job of having a single league statistician for all groups was eliminated in favor of having the Nightly Coordinators maintain the handicaps and statistics (with the PC program) for each respective course/day group of members. Since the change in 1988, the coordinators have been reimbursed on a per head basis for paid and active league members (i.e. to reimburse for expenses incurred on leagues behalf) on their night at the end of the season after all handicaps, scores, nightly winners and final outings are completed.

In 1990, the NT Golf League member who wrote the golf league PC handicap program left the company. This presented several problems to the Nightly Coordinators in 1991. In 1992, a commercial software program was purchased that allowed easier tracking and computation of league member scores and handicaps using USGA rules. Updates that provide more features and flexibility have been purchased in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2003.

In 2003 the two Nortel Networks RTP area golf leagues merged. The Network Center Golf League (NCGL) merged with and became part of the NT Golf League. With the merger, some of the Lakeshore tee times from the NCGL were added to the NT Golf League schedule, providing for expansion of the league. Also in 2003 the decision was made to consolidate all league play at Lakeshore, eliminating nightly leagues at Lochmere (NT Golf League) and Falls Village (NCGL).

With the instability of the company and the untimely elimination of many positions, the league officers from 2004 failed to hold elections for the 2005 season. It was only due to the collective efforts of a few individuals that the league was able to form and carry on its long tradition of providing a fun and competitive organized golf league. There were no formal elections, but volunteers for 2005 included Michael Hahne, Darrin Parish, Shoko Nomoto, Doug Keltner, Reggie Lynch, and Chris Wilson among others. A special thanks should be given to those individuals for keeping the Nortel RTP golf league alive and well. In 2005 it was determined that there was a surplus of funds in the financial account. It was decided that for the 2005 season (to basically get things up and running) no league dues would be charged to members, the league outing would be self funded, and the league expenses would consume the current fund surplus. This would include fees for the web site, league coordinator reimbursements, and other associated league expenses.

Three leagues were created for 2005 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, all at Lakeshore Golf Club. The league membership consisted of 120 members equaling 60 total teams. One new rule change was permanently implemented having to do with the ability to improve a lie anywhere on the course with the exception of a lie within any marked hazard or sand trap(See League Rules).

The first league outing was held at Keith Hills Country Club and was well attended as well as being mostly financially self-funded. Minimal funds were used from the current account surplus. The crowning jewel of the 2005 season was the first annual Nortel Golf League Charity Golf outing in October. From this first (and annual we hope) event we were able to donate over $2,000 to the local United Way Fund. The event was held at Riverwood Golf Club.

An election was held in November for 2006 league officers. It was decided that since we had eliminated the surplus in the league account and that again no financial subsidies would be coming from the company, a fee of $25 would again be charged for league membership to cover league expenses. Also a change in league eligibility was made to now allow the immediate family members the ability to become league members (see By-Laws).

At the request of some league members who were looking for a more challenging course, a fourth league was re-introduced in 2007 which consisted of four teams playing at Lochmere Golf Club. This league was abandoned after one season due to a lack of signups for the 2008 season. 2007 concluded with another successful charity golf outing at Riverwood Golf Club where over $3000 was raised for the United Way.

Events with Nortel prior to the start of the 2009 season marked the beginning of the end of the 'Nortel Golf League'. Nortel declared bankruptcy in January of 2009 and many employees, including serveral members of the Nortel Golf League, either learned their jobs had been eliminated or were nervously anticipating they soon would. As a result participation in the 2009 leagues was down for the first time in many years. It marked the final season for the Lakeshore Tuesday night league as only six teams signed up for the 2009 season. And the Fall Outing turned out to be the final charity golf outing at Riverwood due in part to low outing attendance.

The fallout from Nortel's demise resulted in several changes in the league for the 2010 season. First and foremost was a name change to the RTP Golf League. The other big change was the elimination of league eligibility requirements that were tied to an affiliation with Nortel which opened up league eligibility to everyone. This helped offset the loss of former Nortel employees in the league as we welcomed teams from several other RTP companies including IBM and Cisco.

From 2010 until today the RTP Golf League has continued to offer league play on both Monday and Wednesday nights at Lakeshore Golf Club. And we continue to host a Spring and Fall outing every season, though neither of these outings are charity events any more.

Early in 2017 it was learned that our long time home, Lakeshore Golf Course, had been sold and would close for good in November of 2017. While this would not impact any plans for the 2017 league season, as of this writing it leaves the future of the RTP Golf League in question.

In January of 2018 it was announced that the RTP Golf League would live on. Agreement was reached to host the league at Falls Village Golf Course in Durham. For 2018 we will be hosting a single league that will play on Monday nights. We look forward to continuing our tradition of offering a fun night of golf competition for players of all skill levels.