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Staying green in Dayton

Runge puts golf course back in the black

-Messenger file photo by Kelby Wingert
Bob Rungee, of Dayton, has been the manager and greens keeper of the Oak Park Golf Course in Dayton for 11 years.

DAYTON — When Bob Runge started running the Oak Park Golf Course in Dayton, the place was hurting. It needed a new greens keeper and a new manager and it was putting a strain on the city’s budget.

That’s when Runge stepped in and filled both roles. And now, 11 years later, the golf course is going strong and is a significant attraction to the Dayton area.

Runge has made a lot of changes and improvements on the nine-hole course.

“Mowed them to where people aren’t looking for their ball so much, wasting time out there,” he said.

Inside the clubhouse, the city had stopped selling food because it was losing money, but Runge convinced the city to start the kitchen back up.

“Now we’re making money,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest improvement in here.”

The clubhouse is open for breakfast and lunch every day during the summer.

Membership numbers have gone up and the golf course is bringing in more greens fees, Runge said.

Working at the golf course, Runge enjoys spending time outside and meeting all the people who come to play the links.

The golf course brings in golfers not just from Dayton, but from all over the region. One of the things that draws in golfers are the tournaments Runge hosts twice a month.

“Our tournaments, that’s where we bring in a lot of our out-of-towners,” he said. “And we do a cash payback (for winners) and there’s some courses that don’t do that anymore.”

The golf course also hosts a lot of golf outings for different community groups or companies.

“It stays pretty busy,” Runge said.

Runge hasn’t always been the head of a golf course. Prior to starting at Oak Park, he spent 20 years doing factory work.

“It was a big change,” he said.

But with management and leadership experience he gained while working in factories, and some advice from his son, who studied turf management, Runge has been able to make that big change a success for Oak Park Golf Course.

Runge has been described as an “amazing chef” and enjoys smoking meat.

Recently, when a Dayton community member passed away, Runge donated his time and a whole lot of meat, which he smoked for the family.

Outside of the golf course, Runge is involved with the Dayton Community Club and Celebration Committee. He helps organize parking for the annual Dayton Rodeo over Labor Day Weekend.

Runge, a Stratford native, moved to Dayton many years ago and enjoys the small town life.

“I like the people,” he said. “I mean, just everybody knows everybody.”

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