History of Lake Valley G&CC
What follows is my collection of information relative to the history of Lake Valley Golf & Country Club. (LVCC) This information has been gathered through a fairly lengthy process, including interviews with many of the persons who were involved first hand in the birth and development of Lake Valley Golf & Country Club. While every effort has been extended in attempting to verify all facts and stories as they are related here, it is entirely possible that with the passage of time, some of the dates and names involved may not be 100% accurate.
It is amazing to think that Lake Valley Golf & Country Club was founded over 40 years ago. If you have been a member throughout those 40 years, I hope you will find this to be an accurate history of the club. If not, please let me know so that we can make corrections before our next printing. If you are a more recent addition to LVCC, I hope this provides you with some information that will help you perhaps understand why some things are the way they are, or possibly will give you some “I didnâ€™t know that” facts about your club.
I began working on this little project several ago, expecting to pump out a few pages of history in a couple months. I grossly underestimated how much information there is to record, digest, and determine what belongs and what doesnâ€™t. Obviously, this has taken much longer than I expected, and I continue to capture new bits of information about our club. Each time that Iâ€™ve thought I was ready to go to press I decided there was something else that needed to be added. Iâ€™ve finally realized that a project of this nature is never really finished, you just make the decision that you have to print what youâ€™ve got, and maybe update it at another time.
I want to extend a special thank you to all of the people who have taken time to visit with me about this project and to convey their stories. Thank you to Carl Tidgren and Bob Dickemann for generously loaning me their personal scrapbooks, from which many of the photos and newsletters were copied. Special thanks to C.C. Blair for taking the time to review my writing and add his critique.
And finally, thank you to Dick Goins and First National Bank, who graciously agreed to fund all of the materials required to produce 400 copies of this product and make it available at no cost to our members.
Dennis L. Jones
Steven Lyon of Tulsa, Oklahoma was selected as the contractor to build the golf course. He was given the “notice to proceed” order on May 16, 1967 to begin construction on the golf course. I havenâ€™t been able to locate much information on Lyon, but a common story seems to be that he “lost his shirt” on the job. Apparently coming from Oklahoma he was not prepared for the amount of rock he would encounter in Missouri and had badly underbid the project.
There are a few interesting tidbits about the original course construction. The course was originally designed as a par 70 layout (#6 and #14 were both par 4’s), but was later modified to the current par 72. The original architectâ€™s plans called for U-3 bermuda grass fairways and tees, a feature which was omitted during original construction as a cost savings measure. Changing from bermuda to bluegrass saved the club $2,200 off of the proposed construction cost. The present bermuda was installed beginning in 1984. And picture this….how about a small lake in front of the green on par 3 hole #5! Would you believe that original course drawings included such a lake?
The course layout reproduced at right is from the front of a set of blue prints for the construction of the club house, and not necessarily a set of golf course blue prints. However, the layout accurately reflects the layout that we did end up with, with a couple noticeable exceptions. Notice that this layout includes a entrance road coming directly from Hwy 54 by passing through the driving range and crossing #14 (#5 on the layout). Notice also that the 9’s are reversed. Finally, notice the small lake or pond in front of #5 (#14 on the layout).
The golf course construction began in mid 1967, with the original plan being that the course would open in 1968. Because it was part way through the 1967 growing season before construction began, final growth had not been completed before the fall rainy season set in. Unfortunately, a 5″ rainfall resulted in damage to the fairways and roughs on the south side of the entrance road (holes 6-7-8-9-10-11). Not long after that a second 5″ rain washed out 13-14-16-17, which caused a delay in the 18 hole opening. This is also the reason that the additional $50,000 loan was required to complete the course. One reason that some think the runoff from the rains was so significant was that the new Highway 54 was under construction at the same time.
As a result of the heavy rains in 1967, play opened in 1968 with a temporary 9 hole layout. The 9 hole layout was something like this:
#1: Players played what is now hole #10.
#2: Players played what is now hole #11.
#3: Players played what is now hole #12.
#4: Players teed off from a temporary tee at the far end of the present practice range, and played to the present green #18.
#5: Players teed off from the present tee #4 and played to the present green #5.
#6: thru #9 – played as is today
Original Course Opening:
Although earlier references were made to the course being open for members play, it appears that the “official” opening of the course did not occur until April 19, 1969. Here is what the local newspaper from April 1969 had to say:
“LAKE VALLEY GOLF COURSE OPEN FOR PLAY
According to the club Pro, Bob Bratzler, nine holes of the golf course will be open for play April 19th. It will be a little rough going on the fairways as work is being done on them, but the greens are excellent. It has been announced that local players who are not members will be permitted to play upon payment of a green fee between April 19th and May 25th. After May 25th, the course will not be open to local persons who are not members of the Lake Valley Golf and Country Club.”
Further, an article in the July 25, 1969 Vacation News indicated that the second 9 holes would be open for play “within the next few days.”In describing the course the article continued to say “The course includes a driving range and lighted putting clock.” A lighted putting clock? Does anybody remember this?
This three color poster with a full color photo in the center was used early on to promote LVCC. The players in the photo are (L to R): C.C. Blair, Don Little, Dorothy Blair, Bob Bratzler, and Ed Loughlin. The poster was 11″ x 17″.
The Early Years:
During the “early years” of LVCC, things were quite different than they are today. Money was a constant battle, and just keeping the course open for play was the major concern each day. There are numerous stories about the day to day operations and how difficult it was just to survive. Many members paid dues two and three years in advance so that the club would have money to operate on. Capital expenditures were virtually nonexistent. And various methods of “beg, borrow, or steal” were used to overcome those initial startup hurdles.
It was previously mentioned that we had borrowed $350,000 from the FHA in 1967/1968 for the initial course acquisition and development. Minutes from early 1970’s Board meetings show that FHA representatives were commonly in attendance, asking for when we intended to make payment and trying to figure out what kind of mess they had gotten themselves into. By July 1975 we owed $380,099 on a six year old loan of $350,000. In 6 years we had not paid a penny to principal. In an effort to work with our Board to establish a workable payment plan, the FHA refinanced the $350,000 principal AND the unpaid interest into a single loan. In November 1975 we made our first scheduled payment on that loan. This came a full 7 years after the money was borrowed. There is speculation that one of the only reasons the FHA didnâ€™t foreclose on our loan is because they had so many other golf course loans that had defaulted, and they were optimistic (hopeful) that ours had a chance to survive, and were willing to go to great lengths to aid our success.
It is very important to point out very clearly that this is not meant in any way to reflect negatively about the early club management. In fact it is quite the opposite. At that time we were attempting to service a $350,000 debt with a gross revenue figure that was budgeted at $66,398 for 1970. Today we are servicing about a $335,000 debt with a gross revenue of $1.2 million. The only thing that allowed the club to survive those early years was the dedication of the leaders and the club members, and their persistent attitude that this club was not going to fail.
As recently as the mid 1980’s a fairly common way to get extra helpers on a project was to hold a member work day. The success and quality of LVCC was heavily dependent on member’s participation in the early years, as the club simply did not have the money to pay for the services which were performed by these work details. Member work days were used at various times to paint the clubhouse, construct maintenance buildings, pick up rocks (lots of rocks!), clean out brush, and numerous other odd jobs. A typical work day might include golf before the work began, but quite often golf was bypassed in favor of getting on with the work. Members often were asked to bring their own rakes, shovels, trimmers, etc. in order to make certain that enough tools were on hand to get the job done.
Several times situations arose where something was needed and the club simply did not have the money to afford it, nor the means to borrow any more. In those situations the membership might be asked to pay another year’s dues in advance, which most readily did. An attached page shows a list of members paying 1970 dues in 1969. Other times individual members might step up and make donations, as it was when 35 members donated $20 each to construct the first cart maintenance building. Later, in 1978 when the club wanted to build our current cart building next to #9 green, John Blair loaned the club $13,000 at 0% interest with the stipulation that it be paid back “when funds are available”. Over the years others have made loans or donations to the club as well.
Many donations came not in the form of cash, but of labor and/or materials. The July 1979 Board minutes reflect a thank you to Wayne North for his donation of lumber that was needed to rebuild bridges on the course. Leonard North’s name has been mentioned several times for the times he assisted with “anything electrical”. C.C. Blair tells the story of the time our well was broken and Earl Perkins, a member, spent an entire day with his equipment and one of his hired workers performing the necessary repairs. C.C. told Earl that he didn’t know how, but somehow the club would find a way to pay him. To which Earl’s response was that he expected no payment, that it was his equipment and he’d use it anyway he wanted. Certainly many of our members have contributed at one time or another, in one way or another, above and beyond their traditional dues.
Is this meant to project that things were better in the old days? Certainly not. Today we are fortunate enough that the club sustains adequate growth and revenue that we are able to afford adequate staff to maintain the course properly. But it bears acknowledging that if these individuals, as a group, had not shown the dedication and determination to persevere through those difficult times, we would not have the club that we enjoy today.
Sustainers Liability Agreement:
As further testimony to the commitment that the club founders were willing to make to ensure the success of the club, there were a limited number of “sustainer” certificates issued. These certificates recognized the individual as a “SUSTAINER AND BOOSTER OF LAKE VALLEY GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB AND IS ENTITLED TO RECOGNITION BY THE COMMUNITY FOR THE ENLIGHTENED SENSE OF CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY EVIDENCED BY THIS AGREEMENT.” Of course, the document goes on to say “The only purpose of this agreement is to establish a contingent source of income for the Club in the event available funds from dues and all other sources are not sufficient to provide necessary operating expenses and reserve requirements and amortize any loans made or insured by the United States through the Farmers Home Administration…”. The agreement states that the sustainer agrees to allow himself to be assessed a maximum of $150.00 in any single twelve month period, which is an amount equal or greater than one year’s dues at that time. The certificate below was issued to charter member and sustainer Hugh Phillips.
Golf Course Changes:
Over the years several changes have been made to the golf course. These changes have involved things that were for aesthetics only, as well as some significant functional changes to the golf course. Prior to 1987 any changes that were made were purely at the discretion of the Board and Course Superintendent. In 1987 the Board commissioned ASGCA architect Gary Kern to develop a long range plan for the course. This long range plan was adopted by the membership and is incorporated as an amendment to our by-laws. Some of the golf course changes that have been made over the years are:
Hole #1. Prior to the mid 1980’s the small ditch that crosses the fairway about 150 yards from the green was a much larger ditch. This was filled in and reduced in size to reduce the likelihood of hitting into the ditch while in the fairway. Also until the early 1980’s there were large elm trees on either side of the opening which now exists at the first ditch. The tree on the right side of the fairway was especially large and encroached significantly on the fairway, making the second shot a very difficult shot to hit. Over the years several elm trees on the course were lost to Dutch Elm disease.
Hole #2. During the winter/spring of 1994 the entire green on #2 was rebuilt. This involved removing all of the soil down to a depth of 3′ and rebuilding to USGA specifications. The general size and shape of the original green was maintained, although the subtle breaks and ridges are different. This rebuilding was required due to the general poor condition of the grass and its root system.
Hole #3. During October 1998 the green on hole #3 (along with #8 and #9) was completely rebuilt. The reconstruction served to cure several ailments. First, the old green sloped severely from back to front, which made for nearly impossible putts if you were above the hole. Second, the condition of the green had deteriorated over the years to a point where late summer turf problems were normal. Third, the design offered little “risk/reward” factors. During the reconstruction the front edge of the green was raised about five feet, creating a much flatter putting surface (although it still has a slight back to front slope). The small sand bunker on the right front corner was reshaped and enlarged, stretching it about half way across the front of the green approach. The net effect of this was to create a hole that will place much higher emphasis on the second shot selection for longer hitters and will make the hole a much truer par 5. (Special Note: at the time this is being written the new greens on 3, 8, and 9 have been reconstructed but have not yet opened for play)
Holes # 4, and 5. No significant changes
Hole #6. In 1978 trees were planted in the right rough, to the right of the group of large trees which guard the dogleg. Keep in mind that in 1978 the roughs were still very dry and hard, and extremely long drives could be hit by playing into the rough. It is rumored that the trees here were planted specifically to keep Ray Carey from cutting the corner.
Hole #7. No significant changes
Hole #8: During the tenure of Bill Whitfield as golf professional, a fairway sand trap was added to the right side of the fairway, about 160 yards from the green (much to the chagrin of slicers everywhere!) Later, that trap was changed to grass and left as a depression – it is still visible today. In 1992 a new, larger sand trap was installed on the left side of the dogleg. This very large trap has two grass mounds within it and makes one think about the risk involved in cutting the corner. In October 1998 the green was rebuilt and moved about 15 yards towards #6 tee. Two small sand bunkers on the left side (front and rear) were removed and replaced with a single large bunker on the left rear. The entire green was raised and the whole area was reshaped to promote proper water drainage, as this green has historically held water.
Hole #9. In October 1998 the green was reshaped and reconstructed. The old green had rear shelf then sloped down from mid-green to the front, making for treacherous down hill or side hill putts. The new green is larger and flatter, and it is somewhat of a two tiered design. During the reconstruction a front right bunker was removed, while a front left bunker was retained and enlarged. Mounds were added along the right side of the green.
Holes # 10, and 11: No significant changes
Hole #12: Presently, this hole has a cart path which runs down the right side of the fairway until it is about 120 yards out, makes a 90 degree left turn, crosses the center of the fairway , makes a 90 degree right turn, and moves up the hill on the left side of the fairway to the green. Until the early/mid 1980’s the path across the center of the fairway taken by this path was a natural ditch which was usually washed out to some degree. It was very common for the grounds crew to work hardily to repair this area and get it in playable condition, only to have it washed out by the first heavy rain. So, the next time you ask yourself “why would anyone run a cart path across the middle of the fairway?” please understand that it played a significant part in making the hole as playable as it is today. Another major change to this hole involved the complete rebuilding of the green. At the same time that #2 was rebuilt, #12 was also rebuilt. This hole really benefited from the change by adding more playability to the green. The original design of the green was relatively flat on the back, but sloped significantly from back to front. This created problems during the summer as the green was speedy enough that a front pin placement would often result in putts rolling past the hole and all the way off the green. The new design still has a drop from front to back, but has less drop and is much more playable.
Hole #13: All of the changes on this hole have taken place at the teeing area. First, the original tee was a single level design, making it very difficult (ie impossible) to see the hole from the rear of the tee. In the mid 1980’s the design was changed to a two tiered tee, which, while not providing 100% visibility to the green, has greatly improved it. Also during the mid/late 1980’s a second tee block was created to the left and front of the existing tee. This was to be used as an “off season” tee, but was never very popular with the membership and is rarely used.
Hole #14: This hole, along with #16, has seen the most significant structural changes of any on the golf course. The locations of the tees and greens have not changed from the original design, but much of what lies in between has. For example, the pond that you see on the right hand side of the fairway was for years nothing more than a swampy waste area. There was a ditch that ran through the area, but the ground stayed so wet and mushy that it was impossible to mow, even with a weed eater. More than one golfer went looking for a lost ball, only to come back with mud over his ankles. The area that is now the pond is essentially the same area that was previously “swamp” and unplayable. From about the area that is now the pond’s spillway, a ditch continued towards the larger pond, crossing hole #16 at an angle. This ditch was closer to #16 tee than the present ditch, and eventually ran behind the #17 pond and joined up with the ditch that crosses #1, #3, #4, and #5. This update was done in 1982..
Hole #15: No significant changes.
Hole #16: As mentioned earlier, this hole received significant changes in the mid 1980’s. At that time the pond on #16/#17 was enlarged by draining it and digging out a secondary wing. This created the area of the pond that you now see beside and behind the men’s tee on #18. If you look closely, you can visualize the original line of the dam. Part of the area that was used to enlarge the pond was the large ditch that ran all the way across the golf course. The new, larger pond now comes into play on the #16 tee shot, where before it would only come into play on extremely long shots hit down the left side. And, the ditch that crossed the fairway included a bridge across it. This ditch and bridge were located about 50 yards closer to the tee than the present drainage ditch. This location, combined with the fact that the fairways were much harder then (due to lack of water) made it very possible to hit the ball into the ditch off of the tee. Consequently, the safe play was generally to the right, along a line of where our present cart path runs. The trees and mounds were not there then either.
Hole #17 and #18: No significant changes.:
Fairway grass: The original course design called for U-3 bermuda grass for all fairways. However, because money was so tight a decision was made to install bluegrass as a cost savings measure. Several years later, in 1984, the process of sprigging bermuda into the fairways was begun. An outside company was contracted to sprig what is now the back nine holes. I recall there was considerable discussion during that first summer as to whether the bermuda was taking, or whether we had been taken. The greens Superintendent, Don Zanzie, kept insisting that the bermuda was taking and we should all be patient. Of course, by the next summer the bermuda was taking over sizeable areas of the fairways. Not long afterwards Don created a quasi “nursery” for bermuda in the driving range, and eventually completed the installation of bermuda on the front nine holes.
Putting Green: The year before greens #2 and #12 were rebuilt, the practice green was reshaped and rebuilt. This was a major improvement that approximately doubled the size of the practice green. Prior to the rebuilding, head in parking was available in the area of the practice green that now borders the driveway. The large boulders were added on the golf course side of the practice tee to allow us to level the surface, as the original green sloped severely toward #1 tee.
Irrigation System: The golf course was originally constructed with a fairway watering system. It consisted of high pressure lines and manual heads. In 1988 a new, computer controlled watering system was installed by Pargmann Construction, which greatly increased the coverage of the new system and allowed much better control over how much water was applied and to which parts of the course, and controlled when it was applied. This relieved a strain on the grounds crew, who previously had to make multiple trips to the golf course during the course of an evening, in order to move the sprinkler heads from one area to another. The “new” system is controlled by computer, and each head can be set as to what time it is to begin watering and how much water it should disperse. During hot, dry summer months it is not uncommon for the system to disburse 350,000 gallons of water overnight.
Cart Paths: In 1995 a milestone concrete cart path was poured. This path completed our plan of providing a continuous paved path, from the 1st tee to the 18th green. This was a major undertaking for the club and took several years to complete. The benefit now is that we are able to be open for golf on days when our fairways would otherwise be too wet to play on. In addition to saving wear and tear on our course and carts, the cart paths also define and outline many of the holes, a feature which is helpful to golfers not familiar with our course.
Reversal of the 9’s: Over the years the 9’s have been reversed at least twice. Originally designed to play in our existing sequence, the holes were reversed for a few years in the late 1970’s such that #1 was #10 and so on. It was later decided that this was not the best design, and the 9’s were again reversed to our present order, so that we start with a par 5 at #1.
Entrance Road: Prior to 1992 the entrance road from lake road 54-79 to the clubhouse was constructed of asphalt. Over the course of years several spots had begun to deteriorate and crumble, to the point where extensive repairs were needed. In 1992 the existing asphalt was replaced with concrete. As part of the renovation, flower beds were installed in the center of the road at three points along its length.
Parking lots: Much like the progress on our cart paths, completing the construction of our paved parking areas has been an evolutionary process. Over time various pieces were asphalted and/or concreted, and all eventually replaced with concrete. During the winter of 1997-98 the final piece of the parking area was completed, an area which some say should have been the first piece instead of the last. The area between the swimming pool and the club house was graded and concreted, including a drive through “drop off” lane for unloading passengers, and built in flower/shrubbery boxes along the lane. At the same time the upper parking area was enlarged enough to allow a double row of parking in the center of the lot, greatly increasing the number of cars we can accommodate and generally improving the appearance. The entrance to the swimming pool was rerouted so that the sidewalk leading to the pool comes in from the upper parking lot rather than the area near the driving range as it previously did
Among the original “movers and shakers” that got LVCC established, several names are regularly mentioned. It is probably foolish to attempt to create a list of names, as someone who deserves recognition will likely be omitted. However, in the interest of good record keeping, here are some names of significance and the role they played.
Ed Loughlin: As previously mentioned, Ed “discovered” the FHA financing option that allowed for the creation of LVCC. Ed also spent a sizable part of a year promoting LVCC and helping get it started.
C.C.Blair: Along with Ed, C.C. Blair spent the better part of a year getting LVCC off the ground. C.C. was the first Board President of LVCC and holds membership certificate #001. During the first year of construction C.C. personally oversaw much of the operation, constantly working with the architect and construction crew to make sure that LVCC was properly developed. C.C. was club President for the first 3 years of its existence.
Frank Sallee. As previously mentioned, Frank was instrumental in acquiring the FHA financing that made LVCC possible. Frank also suggested the name “Lake Valley” during an impromptu naming session for the club. He also lobbied to have the road to the clubhouse enter from lake road 54-79 rather than directly from Highway 54.
Lee Farmer. Along with Frank Sallee, Lee was greatly instrumental in securing the FHA financing that enabled the building of LVCC.
Bob Bratzler: Bob was the first golf professional at LVCC, and doubled his duties by doing much of the grounds keepers duties as well. Some have said that if Ed Loughlin and C.C. Blair got the club started, Bob Bratzler kept it going in its early years.
W.R. Henry. Another charter member, Mr. Henry was elected secretary of the Camdenton Golf Club in March 1952 and didnâ€™t relinquish the position until he left the area in the late 1970’s. For the first several years of our existence Mr. Henry handled all bookkeeping functions of the club. At least in his later years Mr. Henry didnâ€™t drive an automobile, and it became the “unofficial” duty of the board President to pick him up for each Board meeting, or to make certain that he had a ride.
Jerry Eidson: Jerry served as House committee chairman during construction of the course and clubhouse and worked closely with the architects and builders to make sure things were done right.
Leonard North: Leonard worked for the electric company at the time and was quite helpful in making sure that utility concerns did not hinder construction of the course.
The Members: One thing that is rather unique about LVCC is the role that its entire membership played in its early survival. While the people mentioned above may have been key in particular areas, without the dedicated support of the entire membership this club would not have survived its early years. This club was created with a true grass roots effort and is here today only because of the dedication of the early members.
The following appeared in the Central Missouri Leader on January 17, 1967.
“Lake Valley Charter Membership To Close February 1st”
“The charter membership period of Lake Valley Golf and Country Club is scheduled to close February1st. The cost of a Charter Certificate of Membership is $150.00, which is $50.00 less than the established price of $200.00 for membership. C.C.Blair, Club President, stated that it does not appear likely the Charter Membership period will be extended beyond February 1.
The membership committee has reported a swelling interest in the lake area and surrounding towns. Committee members anticipate the Charter Membership sales will be completed before the end of January. Mr. Blair also pointed out that the by-laws limit full members to 240 and that membership sales will be cut off when this number is reached.
New applicants will not pay dues until the new Club opens or on whatever date they want their membership to become active. The only initial cost is the purchase of a Certificate of Membership and the normal $50.00 admission fee.
Membership committee members are prepared to explain the complete plans for the new Club and golf course to any interested person. Following are some of the committee members who may be contacted.
Jack Dickerson, Frank Sallee, Lee Farmer, Walter Hedges, C.C.Blair, Roy Crowell, Frank McGrath, Nick Wilcutt, Carl Tidgren, Bob Dickemann, Bob Brown, and Lavern Balbads.”
At the present time I have not been able to locate a detailed list of charter members. I have recovered a list from about 1970 showing persons who were paying dues for the upcoming year(s) in advance, but have not located a 1967 roster (yet – Iâ€™m still looking!) One thing that is known about charter memberships is that several were sold to locals who didnâ€™t even play golf! At the time in 1967 the whole lake area was still a “sleepy” community, without the retail businesses, restaurants, and entertainment offerings that are available today. Many of the local business leaders viewed this as an opportunity to provide an addition to the community which might make it more attractive to persons interested in the area and could contribute to the growth of the area. Nearly 30 years later it appears that their vision was accurate, and that LVCC is now a vital part of the Camdenton area “quality of life”.
I have not been able to locate a list of Charter Members, and probably will never. However, the list below is at least a partial list of people we can recognize as Charter members:
Roy Crowell Glen Blair
John “Hap” Hasker
Kenneth Olive Ralph Blair
Floy “Bud” Hanks
Board of Directors:
In addition to our General Manager, our club is governed by a nine member Board of Directors. Three Board members are elected annually to three year terms. Over the past 30 years several of our members have served at least one term on the Board, and there are several who have served multiple terms. Board members are not paid for their service and generally contribute sizable amounts of time and energy to the effort.
Prior to opening our restaurant LVCC had operated with the Course Superintendent and Golf Professional both reporting to the Board of Directors. With the addition of the restaurant and expansion of the pro shop in 1983, the new position of General Manager was created to provide a single management position. These individuals have served as General Manager:
Bill Whitfield: December 1983 through February 1, 1985. Bill was Head Golf Professional at the time that the restaurant was added to the club. He gave up the Head Golf Professional position and took over as our first official GM.
Al Fera: February 1985 through August 1988. Al had been an active club member for many years when a replacement was needed. Although already retired from his life’s work, Al agreed to serve as GM.
Kent Dinsdale: August 1988 through December 1991. Kent had worked at LVCC previously as an assistant golf professional. When Al Fera decided to retire as GM Kent was hired as GM and Director of Golf.
Alan Lucht: Served a short stint from January 1992 to July 1992.
Mike Schubert: September 1992 to . Originally hired as Golf Course Superintendent, Mike took over as GM after Alan Lucht’s sudden departure. He now serves as both Golf Course Superintendent and General Manager.
Over the years several men have taken the reins as head keeper of the grounds at LVCC. They include:
Charton Bryant – Charton was named in a January 17, 1969 newspaper article as the new greens keeper, although no one seems to remember him. It is thought that he was a local contractor hired to continue work on the course after the developer was finished and departed.
Wes Updegraff – LVCC’s first Superintendent, he picked up the job that Bob Bratzler had begun. A November 1969 newsletter reports that he started on November 1, 1969.
George Bullock – December 1970 through March 1978. George came to the club with Wes Updegraff and worked as an assistant prior to taking over when Wes left.
Dennis Baron – May 1978 through December 1980. Dennis was the first of our Superintendents who was formally educated for golf course management. During Dennisâ€™ 3 years several significant changes were made to the course and its operation. Dennis began converting all of the tee blocks from bluegrass to zoysia. He also began a sample sprigging of bermuda grass in #16 fairway to give the members a sampling of what they could expect from bermuda. It was also during this time that our first “new” piece of mowing equipment was acquired. Prior to that time all equipment had been purchased used – often very used.
Don Zanzie – January 1981 through October 1986. Don worked first as an assistant under Dennis Baron, then was hired as the superintendent after Dennis left, and held the position until he left in 1986. Don continued many of the programs that Dennis had initiated, and it was during Donâ€™s tenure that the program was begun to replace the bluegrass fairways with Westwood bermuda.
Jeff Sommerer – October 1986 through December 1990. During Jeffâ€™s tenure the manual watering system was replaced by the computer controlled automatic watering system that we use today.
Mike Schubert – April 1991 to . Mike has completed several projects, including the pouring of numerous concrete cart paths and rebuilding greens on #2, #12, and the putting green. Under Mike’s guidance several changes have been made to improve the cosmetics of LVCC and to make it more playable. Mike also completed the new maintenance building near the Hwy 54 entrance.
Bob Bratzler LVCC’s first Head Golf Professional, Bob doubled as course superintendent.
Don Little March 1973 through October 1977.
Bill Whitfield – February 1978 through February 1985. Hired in 1978 as General Manager and Director of Golf, Bill was head pro during the time period when the clubhouse was expanded and the restaurant facility opened. When he arrived at LVCC Bill was not only responsible for managing the pro shop, but he also owned all of the merchandise and fixtures. When Bill left the club in 1985 the Board voted to buy out his merchandise and equipment and took over operation of the pro shop. Prior to that time all merchandise sales were the sole responsibility of the golf pro.
Steve Hasselbring – December 1983 through April 1985. Steve served as Head Golf Professional during the initial transition period when we moved Bill Whitfield from Head Golf Professional to General Manager.
Dan Robertson – April 1985 – August 1988. Prior to becoming head professional Dan was an assistant under Whitfield and Hasselbring. LVCC was Danâ€™s first position as Head Pro. Dan subsequently took the Head Professional position at Lebanon County Club in 1991.
Kent Dinsdale – August 1988 through December 1991. As mentioned previously, Kent served as GM and Director of Golf during his tenure.
Greg Koenig – December 1991 through September 1995. Came to LVCC from Tan-Tar-A. After LVCC took position as first golf professional at Eldon Country Club.
Steve Nolawski – December 1995 through 2001. Hired from Westwood Country Club in St. Louis, where he was Gateway PGA Assistant of the Year for 1995, just before joining LVCC. Lake Valley is Steveâ€™s first position as Head Professional. Steve is presently the Head Professional and General Manager at Rolling Hills Country Club in Versailles, Mo.
Over the years several celebrities have participated in events at LVCC. Some have come as guests to play in team events and others have come simply to play, but the bottom line is that some very interesting people have played golf at LVCC. And it started with a bang at the “grand opening”. On May 17, 1970 LPGA Professional Patty Berg (winner U.S. Open 1946, charter member LPGA Hall of Fame) participated in a golf demonstration and played with Bob Bratzler at the original opening of the club. Bob was apparently under contract with Wilson golf equipment at the time, as was Ms. Berg, and was able to arrange her participation as a result.
Other notables include professional baseball manager Whitey Herzog; then Missouri Governor Warren Hearns; Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks Len Dawson and Mike Livingston; Missouri University great Don Faurot; St.Louis Cardinal Vince Coleman; Chicago Cub pitcher Rick Sutcliffe; New York Met Darryl Strawberry; and eventual PGA Professionals Payne Stewart and John Daly.
Payne Stewart played in the annual August men’s Two Man Scramble tournament in the years before he turned professional. In those days Payne was quite confident in his ability and it is reported that after Saturday’s round he shopped the pro shop, putting away items which he planned to purchase on Sunday with the gift certificates he knew he was going to win. Unfortunately for Payne, his team didn’t fare quite as well as he’d expected and he wound up spending cash instead of gift certificates. Of course, Payne has since won the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, along with other PGA events.
Before his rise to fame on the PGA tour, John Daly played at LVCC in the high school district golf tournament in 1985. He was a student at Jefferson City Helias at the time. John has gone on to the PGA tour, winning the PGA Championship in his first professional event. John has since won other professional events, including the 1995 British Open
Buildings & Facilities
On June 5, 1967 the bid was awarded to Surbaugh Construction for the building of the clubhouse, pool house, and maintenance building. The total bid award for these three buildings was $73,365. Hood-Rich Architects from Springfield, Mo. had done the design work for all of the buildings.
When the course opened in 1968/1969, the only buildings on the grounds were the clubhouse and pool buildings. All of the other buildings have been constructed since to fulfill our budding needs. Although it appears as though the golf course itself didnâ€™t open until spring 1969, the clubhouse and swimming pool were likely completed earlier than that. A newspaper article from January 17, 1969, which announced the membership meeting was to be held on January 20th, said that club members “should remember that the meeting will be held at the new Club house at 8:00pm”. This same article made reference to the new “Pro”, Bob Bratzler, and the new Superintendent of the Fairways and Greens, Charton Bryant. It also said that nine holes were playable, although it didnâ€™t indicate if it was a conventional nine holes or the previously described “temporary” nine holes. In any case, the Spring of 1969 must have surely been an exciting time to be a member at Lake Valley.
Pro-Shop / Restaurant:
The original clubhouse was approximately one half the size of the facility we have today, actually less than half when you consider that the original building had no basement. The original building contained the banquet room, same as today, and the same members bar room. The wall which separates the members locker rooms from the public restrooms was the original outside wall of the building. Likewise, the area that is now the office area and the recently enlarged ladies portion of the proshop made up the entire proshop & snack bar. Prior to 1984 food service at LVCC was either “cook your own”, catered, or a hot dog from the snack bar. Beer could be bought at the snack bar, but if you wanted a mixed drink you had to keep a bottle in your locker and get your mix from the members bar.
During 1984 the building was expanded to include a full service restaurant and enlarged proshop. The Board’s decision to pursue this expansion was fairly controversial at the time and created a large turnout at the annual membership meeting. Many members were concerned about the possibility of creating an unnecessary burden on the membership if the restaurant wasn’t successful. Many also voiced concerns about the desire to not have a monthly food minimum like other clubs do. This was probably the most significant project the club had undergone since the original founding of the club, and it had many members quite concerned. In retrospect, this was a very significant move because it signaled a change in our club’s position. We had made the transition from mere existence to a position where we could begin to make improvements to the facilities. Possibly even more significant is that this expansion was accomplished without any special assessments on the membership. Happily, today our facility seems to be running in stride, serving our membership and guests quite sufficiently.
The restaurant operates today under the name “Greenside”, a moniker which it has apparently held since November 1984. Interestingly, a contest was held prior to the restaurant opening in 1984 to name the facility. Board minutes from October 1984 indicate that the original Board selection for the restaurant’s name was the “Hook n Slice”.
Until early 1996 a variety of out buildings provided limited shelter and storage for our maintenance equipment. Most of these buildings were constructed during the very early years of the club, and on less than a shoestring budget. As the club has grown over the years, the quality and quantity of our equipment has also grown. Stricter government regulations on things like chemical storage and worker safety also were contributing factors to the Board’s decision in late 1995 to construct a new maintenance facility. The new building consists of a 9,000 sq. ft. steel framed and sheet metal building, 60′ x 150′, located near the exit from Highway 54. Upon completion of the new building, all of the old buildings were torn down and removed.
One of the original cart sheds was a small building, located near what is now the putting green. During the Presidency of John Blair, Sr. the present day building was erected. Funds were still very tight at the time of this undertaking, but the space was needed to accommodate our growing fleet of carts.
Possibly the first building used as a cart shed was one of the buildings that was on the hill behind the driving range. As described, the building was not a storage facility, but was used as a place for inside maintenance and repairs of the carts. It was built on the strength of 35 members donating $20 each, and had a partial concrete floor.
One of the original components of the club, the swimming pool measures 60′ long x 34′ wide (at the center), with a shallow end of 3′ deep water graduating to a 9′ deep end. The pool is hexagon shaped and was a new design by Ralph Laughlin of Ozarks Pools from Camdenton, Mo. A separate wading pool for toddlers is located adjacent to the main pool. Largely unchanged since its original completion in 1968, the pool underwent a significant refurbishing in 1995. In addition to open swimming for members, the club has historically made the pool available for swimming lessons each year for members and non-members. According to a newspaper article from May 28, 1968, the swimming pool at the “old country club” on South Highway 5 was scheduled to open for the season on “May 30, Memorial Day. It will remain open until the new pool is completed. Cool and damp weather has prevented the completion of the new pool.” So, it appears that at least a portion of the 1968 swimming season took place at the old club near the airport.
Located above the swimming pool is a single standard size doubles tennis court. Available for members play, this court was in the original club design, but funds were not available for its completion for several years. In September 1975 the Board approved a motion to construct the single court with its completion scheduled for May 1, 1976.
The following section will relate some stories and lore about LVCC that maybe doesn’t fit into any of the categories previously covered in this report, but are important to the legacy of LVCC.
“Pay your dues, please”
While it’s easy for us to take for granted today, in its earlier days LVCC struggled to make ends meet. As mentioned previously, the club had the good fortune of being part of a government financed program, which afforded us with a very low interest rate loan. However, membership was considerably lower than today, about 150 members instead of 350, and greens fees from outside play was minimal. Just having enough money to pay the operating bills was a constant struggle. As a result, several members were asked to voluntarily pay their annual dues in advance, so that the club could make its mandatory loan payment. Fortunately, enough members stepped up and paid in advance, some for as much as two or three years, that we were able to continue operating. In fact, things were so tough that during this period there were times when we paid only interest to the FHA, and didn’t even pretend to make any principal payment.
Even though the property upon which LVCC is built was originally a farm, during the original course construction several loads of topsoil were brought in to complete the task. It seems that on more than one occasion dirt would be brought in and worked, only to have it washed away by a hard rain. And, of course, you know that all water washes towards the lake, which took our topsoil with it right to Buford Fosterâ€™s property (Lake Park / Cedar Glen). I donâ€™t know if its true or not, but Iâ€™ve heard that we hauled the same dirt back from Bufordâ€™s property several times that year!
If anyone ever “owned” a hole at LVCC, it would have to be Floy “Bud” Hanks and hole #17. On April 30, 1971 Bud scored a hole-in-one on #17. Four days later, on May 4th, he did it again! But, as Paul Harvey would say, now youâ€™â€˜re going to hear “the rest of the story”. What the plaque at the tee doesnâ€™t tell you is that Bud played another round of golf between the two hole-in-ones. And birdied #17! So, in a five day period Bud played #17 three times, in only four strokes!
In the years before bermuda fairways and watered roughs, extremely long drives were not uncommon at LVCC. In later summer, when the bluegrass was burnt down and the fairways were mostly hardpan, drives of 350 yards were not unheard of. On September 4, 1976 Al Wallace recorded what may be the most unusual ace ever at LVCC by driving and aceing hole #8! Al says he hit a sweeping hook that they knew would be on or close to the green. When they arrived and began searching they were unable to locate his ball. Finally, one of the players looked in the cup and, as you know by now, there was his ball!
Over the years several memorials have become part of LVCC. Some have been presented or paid for by family members, others have been the result of donations in honor of friends. One of the first memorials created was in honor of member Pete Carmichael. Pete was killed in a car accident on the Niangua bridge. Members decided to honor him and took up collections at Stag Night for the purpose of installing drinking fountains on the course. As was typical of the time, members provided the funds, purchased the materials, rented and operated the trenching machine, and completed the project themselves. Only a few of these fountains remain on the course today, but now youâ€™ll know more of the story behind them. Among the known memorials:
Pete Carmichael On course drinking fountains
June McDaniel Bench
Hal Loefller Bench tee #5
Charlie Fischer Entrance gate
Gene Bradley Flag Pole (Missouri flag)
Carl Banks Flag Pole (LVCC flag)
Bud Hanks Flag Pole (U.S. flag)
Charlie Anderson trees
Kenji Clark Fountain #17 lake
Jerry Balmer Bridge hole #3
Dale Cain Bridge hole #5
Dick Thomason Benches #6 green
Roy Crowell Bench #17 tee
In October 2000 the Lake Valley Golf and Country Club Scholarship was established, to benefit local youth who would be attending college and also demonstrated a love of the game of golf. The scholarship fund was begun with the passing of longtime member Steve Hanks, as the Hanks familyâ€™s way of passing along Steve’s enjoyment of the game. It is hoped that over time others will continue to request contributions to the scholarship fund.
Men’s Course Record:
Ray Carey of Camdenton holds the current course record for LVCC with a sizzling 62. Ray shot the 62 on July 3, 1984 while playing with John F. Blair, Dale McElwee, and then Head Golf Professional Bill Whitfield. The round consisted of 6 pars, 2 bogies!, 9 birdies, and 1 double eagle. Ray recently reviewed the round hole by hole. See if this sounds like your round of golf.
“I started with a birdie on the par five number 1, then parred 2. On number 3 I was behind the trap in two shots, then chunked my third shot into the trap and wound up bogeying the hole. Four and 5 were pars, then I birdied 6.”
“We were playing a round robin team game, and my partner on 7 was pretty much out of the hole, and I had a long putt for birdie. I told him that if we werenâ€™t going to lose the hole I was going to have to make the putt, and by golly, I made it from about twenty feet!. Then I made another twenty footer on 8 for birdie, and left a birdie putt on 9 one roll short.” This all made for an excellent 33 on the front nine.
“I parred 10, then hit a good drive on 11. I was on the low side of the fairway about where the last cedar tree is. The pin was cut on the right side, kind of behind the trap. I hit a 5 iron right at the pin. I looked at John and said “If that gets a true bounce itâ€™ll be close.” Well, it went in! So now Iâ€™ve just gone from 3 under to 6 under and it hits me that Iâ€™ve got a chance at the course record, which was then 64. Iâ€™m six under and still have two par fives left.”
“On 12 I hit a perfect drive and just had a short wedge shot left to the green. And I hit another chunk shot, so I bogied 12. After a birdie on 13, I was on the par five 14th hole in two, but hit a terrible first putt and had to make about a seven footer to save birdie. On 15 I make another twenty footer for birdie, then mess around and make par on 16. On 17 I made another long birdie putt, so when I reach 18 tee Iâ€™m standing at nine under par for the day.”
“At that point I felt pretty comfortable that I was going to get the course record, but I needed a birdie in order to shoot 29, and Iâ€™d never shot a 29 before. So I decided to go over the trees, figuring that was the shortest route to the green. The pin was cut down behind the front left trap. I hit a sand wedge in to about two feet. But it was a dead side-hill putt, probably the hardest putt I had to make all day. If it didnâ€™t go in I would have had at least a five footer coming back!”
Hole# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out
Par 5 3 5 4 3 5 3 4 4 36
Ray’s Score 4 3 6 4 3 4 2 3 4 33
Hole# 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In
Par 4 5 4 3 5 3 5 3 4 36
Ray’s Score 4 2 5 2 4 2 5 2 3 29
Ladies Course Record:
The Ladies course record of 4-under par 70 is held by Girlen McClanahan, a Lake Valley member. Appropriately enough, Girlen shot the 70 during the final round of the 1998 Ladies Club Championship tournament. She was playing in a threesome with Sharon Salls and Jane Martin, both of whom had previously won the championship. In talking with Girlen to recap her round a couple years later, she couldn’t recall a hole by hole account of her round. The one thing that did stand out in her mind was that both her fairway shots and her putting were exceptional during her round. I’ll let Girlen’s own words tell her story.
“I was five under par after hole #14. I had made a bogey on #3 and birdies on holes #4, #10, #11, and #14, and an eagle on hole #6. On #15 I started thinking about my score, which normally leads to disaster. My drive on #16 was right in the middle. I took my 3 wood and was left with a shot of 75 yards to the green. The nerves then got to me and I sliced my short wedge shot and it went in the right bunker. I got out and two putted for bogey. On #17 I took my 8 iron and made it to the green and two putted for par. On the last hole I was thinking birdie. I tried my usual shot, a draw around the trees on the left. I then had a shot of about 82 yards to the green. I used my wedge for my next shot and ended up above the pin. I then two putted for par.”
Located in the memberâ€™s bar in the main clubhouse is a photographic history of the past Presidents of LVCC. The list below recognizes the past Club Presidents and the year(s) that they served as President.
John (Hap) Hasker
John Blair, Sr.
John F. Blair
1973 & 1974
1976 and 1981
1983 & 1984
1986 & 1987
1990 & 1991
The two photos and accompanying articles were published in the August 29, 1967 issue of the Central Missouri Leader (which later became the Lake Sun Leader). Although the quality of the images is not extremely good,(okay – itâ€™s poor) you can see the walls of the swimming pool taking shape. The original caption reads:
“HEXAGON SHAPED SWIMMING POOL The six-sided swimming pool at the Country Club, embodies a new design by Ralph Laughlin, of Ozark Pools, Inc. Although the pool is of Junior Olympic size, with 1680 sq. ft. of water surface, the unique design will effect a considerable savings in water, as well as heating and filtering expense. It is 60′ long and 34′ wide at the center. It is 3′ deep at the shallow end, tapering to 4′ at the center. The “bowl” or diving end is 9′ deep. A 14’x56′ bath house will be nearby. The pool is about 50% complete at this time.”
The very dark image on the right is of the clubhouse under construction. You may be able to make out the original stud walls. The caption reads:
“CLUBHOUSE TAKING SHAPE”
Visitors to the site of the new Lake Valley Country Club near Lake Park, will have no difficulty in finding the location of the clubhouse. This picture shows the progress that is being made with the construction. When completed, it will be an addition to our area, of which we can all be proud. The building will be 36’x120′ and will house locker and shower rooms, club room, meeting room, kitchen, etc. There will be a large dining and dancing area in one end, as well as an outdoor dance patio. The exterior will be finished in rough-sawn cedar, to blend with the surroundings. Dick Surbaugh of Surbaugh Construction Co., estimated the clubhouse would be completed by mid-December.”