Stories from the Golf Course | Opinion

OPINION – When I was in high school, I played a lot of golf at Lake Region Golf Course, a pretty nine-hole course near Lake Poinsett. It featured few water hazards and no sand traps, but there was a barber pole on the long par-5 fifth hole. Golfers had to stay to the left as they navigated the dogleg right, otherwise it was a penalty. I always thought it was a quirky feature. Then a few years ago we did a story on some of South Dakota’s most unusual golf courses, and I discovered far more idiosyncrasies on the links all over the state.

Elkhorn Ridge Golf Club opened its first nine holes in 2009. It’s part of a 1,000-acre parcel within the 4,800-acre Frawley Ranch in the Centennial Valley, about 3 miles east of Spearfish. The ranch was designated as a National Historic Site in 1977 and includes dugouts from settlers and early buildings like the one-room schoolhouse with original books and fixtures. The course’s signature hole is the fifth, where elk print Bunkers frame the Fairway.

Hillsview Golf Course, a Municipal 18-hole course east of Pierre, features huge boulders that were deposited by Glaciers as they swept across eastern South Dakota more than a million years ago. The city found it cheaper to incorporate the enormous rocks than to remove them, so the stones were etched with golf related Quotes to inspire and entertain.

Kadoka’s nine-hole, sand green course is laid out around the town airport. Its east-west runway lies between the first and second holes, while the north-south runway borders hole number three. “In fact, when I’m on the second hole, I like to hit it on the runway because it rolls about another hundred yards,” Kadoka’s Mayor Harry Weller told us.

The Bridges at Beresford were built on marshy ground, so the county offered for sale a handful of old Bridges. There are nine Bridges across the course’s various Waterways: eight recycled spans and one that was built from scratch, some for walkers only and others able to handle a golf cart. In style they range from iron behemoths to graceful, covered Arcs with cut-steel artwork set into the railings.

Remnants of our pioneer past are visible on the courses at Platte and Gary. Wagon wheel ruts are prominent near Holes Six and Eight at the Lake Platte Golf Club. Gary’s Gate City Golf Course has wagon ruts, too, though they’re not very deep. “You’ve got to see them in the right shadow. If you really look, you can see that the grass is Deeper in the rut than outside of the rut, ”Lee Nelson, golfer and longtime Gary Resident, said.

Maybe the now somber feature is found in Canton, where a Cemetery lies between the fourth and fifth Fairways. The Hiawatha Golf Club was constructed on the site of the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians. Built by the federal government in 1902, the Asylum housed purportedly mentally ill Native Americans from across the country. Complaints of abuse and neglect led to the asylum’s closure in 1933, and the city of Canton purchased the real estate for $ 1. A split rail fence guards the Cemetery from play and a marker lists the names of the 121 known bodies interred. The prayer ceremony is held at each spring in a spirit of Healing.

Now that winter appears to be over, clean your clubs and play a round. You don’t even have to keep score. The sights and stories alone are worth the trip.

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