STERLING COUNTRY CLUB HISTORY by Parker Smith and Don Reed
I'm always glad to return to Sterling where I grew up in the 1950's and '60's to see longtime friends, visit favorite places, recall special memories and enjoy old pastimes including playing golf at Sterling Country Club. I was able to do so recently as I arrived from Colorado to attend meetings and the Sterling College Homecoming.
While visiting with boyhood friend Don Reed, we recalled the beginning of the local golf course. In the early 60's some men in town began making plans to start a course. They arranged to lease a cow pasture west of town from local farmer and teacher, John Dill. Don and I remembered my father, Dr. Kenneth Smith, Sterling College Academic Dean, walking the field to layout the design of the 9 hole course. Smith was a longtime golfer and former college golf coach who always walked the course carrying his clubs in a lightweight canvas bag which I still have.
Amy Gard, Director of the Sterling City Library, was helpful in providing several articles from old Sterling Bulletin issues with more information on the formation of the golf course. The first annual meeting of the new golf club was held in 1964. Members approved a constitution and elected a board of directors. Frank Dill was the charter president, Ora Shields the vice-president and Dick Wyatt the secretary-treasurer. Other members of the board were Kenneth Smith, Gleeman Long, Bob Fulton, Charles Gilmore and Maurice Schmitt.
Committee chairmen were Fulton, membership; Gilmore, fence and clean-up; Smith, layout; and Long, greens. There were 35 Charter Members with annual dues set at $10 and a special assessment fee of $25.00 to cover cost of constructing the course.
Construction was accomplished with the use of a lot of volunteer labor from club members in the shape of its current layout, but with sand greens. Maintenance of the course was by volunteers who were assigned to care for a specific hole and fairway. Don Reed, John Wilkey and I were assigned hole #7.
The official opening of the course was held on July 31 and August 1,1965. 75 club members and visiting golfers competed for special prizes. Prize winners were:
H.P. Smith, father of Kenneth Smith, oldest golfer at age 87
Ben Urbanek, Men's medalist, Great Bend
Edna Crossan, Women's medalist, Lyons
John Wilkey, won a chicken dinner for his birdie on hole #5
Tom Key & Gleeman Long, most shots in the pond on opening day, 7
Carl Frederick & Cecil Johnson tied for highest score, "playoffs in near future"
My recent round of golf at SCC was very enjoyable. It was a beautiful day and I played fairly well, but still managed to lose several golf balls. Special thanks go to all the current club members who continue to support the local course for others/visitors to enjoy.
Who would have imagined that one of Sterling's own young players, Michael Gellerman, would progress to earn his membership this year on the PGA Tour?
You never know what a person can do when given the opportunity.