In September 1955 the newly incorporated Grove Golf Club, which already had over 50 members, began their project to build a golf course in Grove. The site selected was the Gordon Wilson property on the north side of Highway 10 east of town.
They began staking the layout design for a regulation nine hole, par-36 course. They relied heavily on advice from agricultural experts in preparing the fairways for planting to get a suitable grass carpet on the course that would provide a good, playable surface.
Many areas were already covered with Bermuda and native grasses so some hoped part of the course would be playable that fall. Sand greens 20 feet in diameter were planned. Dirt and clay had to be hauled to the course for the tees and greens.
The layout design by Byrl Gaither was applauded by a professional golfer who toured the course saying, “ A professional couldn’t have done a better job”.
All fairways were 150 feet wide except on the short holes where they narrowed to 100 feet. There were two par-3 and two par-5 holes with parallel fairways along only two holes. Three fairways bordered out-of-bounds. The course had three blind greens and the par-3 number two hole was a long iron shot with a ditch directly in front of the green. The seventh and eighth holes were doglegs. The course measured 2,885 yards with alternate tees that would lessen the yardage to around 2,700.
Maintenance of the course was a problem for the first three years because of the lespedeza and native grasses in the former pasture. The Bermuda grass finally spread over most of the western part of the 55-acre tract, making upkeep cheaper and play easier.
Only six greens were in use for the early part of the season. Later another green was added and players doubled up on two other greens to make the nine-hole course.
So Grove’s first golf course had many challenges to overcome and I don’t know exactly how long it remained active. Today there are a number of courses in our area, the Cherokee Grove Golf Course, Patricia Island Golf Course and the Shangri La courses. Grove High School now offers golf in their sports programs producing some talented young golfers. Both residents and visitors have no problem finding a place to play a game of golf now.