Over the coming months leading into the 100th season at Glenboro Golf & Country Club, I will be taking you through the decades that have moulded the rural Manitoba golf club into one of the top 9 hole golf courses in North America. This information comes from numerous articles and first hand accounts from long time Glenboro Golf Club members. The third part, "Water & Grass" takes us through the major transformations to the golf course through the 1960s & 1970s including grass greens and full course irrigation.
Part 3 - Water & Grass
As the sixties begin at Glenboro Golf & Country Club, golfers are flocking to the course in record numbers. The newly expanded clubhouse is filled with patrons overlooking the present day 1st green and 2nd fairway. The Sugar Bowl that is given to the rural Interclub Champions of Manitoba each year sits proudly in the trophy case of the 1962 Champions, Glenboro Golf Club.
Yes, not only were the golfers of Glenboro plentiful, they had some serious game as well. The Manitoba Golf Association held annual clinics in Glenboro with the likes of Bob Goodwin, Marion Lawrence, Ted Heldrick, Ron Galloway, and Jim Aboott traveling to the village of Glenboro to aid the development of junior golfers and “seasoned” veterans of the game as well.
In the summer of 1963, the junior golfers of Glenboro became formally organized and the Junior Golf Club was formed by a group of members. Instructional slides were purchases and films were shown weekly with practices taking place afterwards. This was the first record of a formal Junior Golf Program in Glenboro and just shy of 60 years later the program still continues and has produced Manitoba Junior & Amateur Champions, decorated University Athletes, Golf Professionals and countless lifelong advocates of the game. Cheers to the members who built this program 60 years ago and to the many, many others who have kept it alive to this day.
The year of 1969 should forever be remembered as a pivotal turning point in Glenboro Golf & Country Club’s operation. In July of 1969 it was announced by Allan Greer, the then Secretary/Manager on the board of directors, that work had started on the installation of grass greens at the golf course. For 47 years, the greens at Glenboro Golf Club were a sand and oil mixture and Glenboro finally made a push to move to grass greens. At this time in history, many courses were making this move to grass greens but many small, rural clubs did not want to bear the expense. For the price of $6,800 the now Glenboro Golf & Country Club constructed 9 new grass greens, 7 of which were in new locations from the current sand greens. These new locations added 274 yards in yardage to the course. Equipment was loaned by locals to complete the work and install the necessary watering systems to ensure the greens were properly cared for.
While the effort of this undertaking was once again an exhibit of the power of the volunteers of Glenboro, it would be remiss not to mention the efforts of Allen Greer. Mr. Greer was the man who actually placed and shaped the greens that we all play today, with some modifications made in 1991. Mr. Greer appeared uncomfortable sharing this information perhaps due to his humble nature or that he did not want it to be public knowledge that he was the one responsible for some of the challenging contours golfers now had to navigate. Nevertheless, credit should be given where it is due.
Entering the spring of 1970, Manitoba was celebrating its Centennial and Spruce Woods Park was cutting the ribbon to officially open the Provincial Park. Down the road from Manitoba’s newest park, on June 27th 1970, a formal ceremony was held to open the grass greens at Glenboro Golf & Country Club. Members from the Manitoba Golf Association were in attendance along with many integral members such as Armand Godard, Allan Frederickson, S. A. Oleson, Ernie Owens, Laurie Johnson, George Wallis, Roy Wallis, Bill Jamieson, Martin Vertz and Allen Greer. A tournament of 123 golfers from around the province were the first to enjoy them and the shaper of the new greens, Allen Greer placed second in the event with a score of 78, one shot shy of the title.
Within two years of the grass greens opening, Glenboro celebrated their 50th anniversary and saw their membership increase 200% since the renovation. A very satisfying result for those that pushed to incur the expense of this renovation to the course. This increase in participation translated into increases in tournaments and green fee play and pushed the golf course to expand once again. In 1975 a 20’ x 24’ addition was completed on the north side of the clubhouse complete with a basement section to act as a locker room and club storage area.
The major projects of the 70s at Glenboro Golf & Country Club were not done yet. In 1979, after decades of discussing and dreaming of an irrigation for the entire course, the executive passed a vote to have irrigation installed for the 9 fairways of Glenboro. Work began to install an underground irrigation system for the fairways linked into the existing greens irrigation system later that year on the support of a $10,000 Provincial grant and interest free loans from members of the golf course as well as some non-member supporters. The total cost of this project came to $70,000 which meant the vast majority of the project was funded by these generous interest free loans. Not only did they fund the project, but members provided the majority of the labour for the project as well. Throughout the summer of 1979 and into the fall the system was installed and the many kinks and nuances were worked out. With the help of their army of volunteers, WestCan of Winnipeg installed the piping, Ransom Drilling of Boissevain dug the wells and installed the motors while Pennycook Electric of Glenboro did the wiring.
On July 3rd, 1980 President Ross Dowd welcomed 130 golfers to the official opening of the fairway watering system. Ernie Owens of Cypress River, member since 1928, had the honor of striking a tee shot down the first fairway to declare the system “open”. Though the system pales in comparison to the automated systems of today, it is difficult to express in words the huge benefit this system had on the Glenboro course. The system watered not just the fairways but the tees and greens as well and with the light sandy soil lining the entirety of the course this unlimited water source was the missing piece Glenboro had been waiting years to add.
The timing of all of these improvements could not have been better. With the opening of the sprinkler system in 1980 also came the Village of Glenboro’s Centennial and Spruce Woods Park was now a very popular tourist destination to the north. Those employed and on the Board of Directors through the 1960s and 1970s had the foresight and ambition to push Glenboro Golf & Country Club to new heights at exactly the time they needed it the most to thrive.