In 1887, Sylvanus Barnard discovered a bubbling, foul-smelling water on his property while he was drilling for oil.
Artesian mineral water was almost as valuable as black gold at that time due to the miraculous healing properties people believed it held. Soon after his discovery, people from all walks of life were flocking to Martinsville to seek relief from rheumatism, acne, depression, stomach troubles and any number of other ailments.
Barnard constructed Martinsville’s first sanitarium in 1888. Between 1890 and 1930, another 12 resorts were built. Two of Martinsville’s sanitariums were owned by Walter A. Kennedy, and he thought golf would be a wonderful amenity for his guests. So, he hired Indiana golf architect, Bill Diddle, to design a 9-hole golf course, and the Martinsville Country Club opened in 1925.
Don and Agnes Carmichael moved into the upstairs of the club house to run the course for Mr. Kennedy in 1933. Don, a Martinsville native, had been working there since the course opened, and as a young caddy developed a love for the game. Don served as the Head Golf Professional and Superintendent while Agnes ran the kitchen. They raised their three children at the golf course, and Don taught Ron, Sam and Ann to play the game he loved. Ron and Sam were both accomplished junior golfers. Sam went on to play college golf at Louisiana State University before joining the PGA tour. Ron attended Purdue University to study agronomy and then headed to Ohio to become an insurance salesman.
When Mr. Kennedy decided to sell the club, Don convinced Ron and Sam to return to Martinsville, and the three of them purchased the golf course in 1969. Unfortunately, Don was diagnosed with lung cancer and didn’t get to see the 9 holes that Sam and Ron hired Bob Simmons to design and build. It opened in 1972 with much input and hands-on by the brothers.
The brothers’ partnership lasted for the next 25 years. Sam served as the Head Golf Professional and Ron was the Golf Course Superintendent. Susan Carmichael, Sam’s wife, ran the club house while Ron’s wife, Marge Carmichael, handled the club’s books. Ron and Marge retired in 2000 and can be found on the golf course when they’re not traveling.
Sam and Susan still own the club, and you’ll find Sam somewhere on the golf course every day. Although Susan is busy with her grandsons, she still takes care of the flowers and stops by to see our longtime customers. Their oldest daughter, Julie, is involved in the business today and represents the third generation of this family business.