Big Gene- The Golfer
At the Garrison Golf Course (1 Mile East on Hwy 37)
The 15 foot metal sculpture of a golfer greets guests at the entrance of the Garrison Golf Course.
- 9 Hole Golf Course Putting Green, & Driving Range
- Indoor Golf Simulator
- Big Gene's Bar & Grill
It all began 70+ years ago, when Harold Rensch visited a community in Minnesota after he married his wife, Jeanie. While there, he did a little touring and got the chance to see a big Paul Bunyan statue. The statue really impressed him because it was unique and different—something he had never seen before. To this day, he cannot remember the town or anything else in that community except, of course, that he traveled there after marrying his wife and that big statue of Paul Bunyan that has continued to stay in his memory.
After traveling back to Garrison, the memory of the big Paul Bunyan statue never left his mind. In 1982, he was fortunate and got with a group of “do-errs” who began the journey of thinking of something unique and different that would stay in visitors’ minds as they traveled to the community like the Paul Bunyan statue had in Harold’s memory. The group came up with a golfer statue that could be placed at the Garrison Golf Course on Highway 37.
The idea was set in stone and they started the thinking and doing process. Harold’s brother, Gene Rensch, had a business working with steel in Makoti. He created a variety of things and so there began the groups idea to work with him on creating a big golfer statue.
Once the idea and plan was made, the excitement started with a group of individuals who had the mind set of accomplishment including Harold Rensch, Norby Schlichting, Shorty Mautz, Pearle Keys, GK Greff, Gene Rensch, Arnold Flath, and Bill Albright. “What a great group of people!” is just how Harold Rensch explained this wonderful group of individuals.
On a Tuesday night at around 4:00pm, the group met in Makoti to begin the building process. Pearl Keys, a broad chested, skinny, good looking guy, was asked to bring an old shirt and pair of pants of his to the shop where they were both cut into patterns. They took his clothes and went sixteen times the size to come up with the dimensions and size the golfer would be. Once the patterns were cut, the process continued with the cutting of the tin in the patterns. Harold recalls them calling it a night at 5:00am that night and starting right back up again the next morning. The group continued working as they started welding the golfer together and after about five days of hard working the golfer was ready for a paint job.
After getting all the steel for a reasonable rate, the group decided to spend the money on a high price paint job that would last a long time. The golfer was brought into town where Mikkelson’s finished the high quality paint job. The golfer was completed and the 16 foot, 2 inch proportional golfer was ready to be unveiled. With a big celebration of champagne and fun, the man was put out with the High School Band playing in triumphs.
The final touch to the big golfer statue was his official name. After the completion of the statue, the golf course asked the group what they wanted for their work. The group had so much fun building and accomplishing this that they did not want a single dime, but only to have the golfer named Big Gene after Gene Rensch who had been instrumental in completing this project. Since then, the golfer has only changed colors one time. Its original color was orange with a dark blue and then was changed to its current color to represent the Troopers.
After several years of “Big Gene” welcoming visitors’ and residents to town, the 16 foot, 2 inch golfer has been a memory of Garrison and the golf course to everyone that has come into town. A group of wonderful individuals set their mind to making something worth a memory and they accomplished just that. Harold Rensch said it perfectly when he said, “A pictures worth 10,000 words” and Big Gene was just that with memories that will trail with him forever.