LGCC CELEBRATES 75th ANNIVERSARY
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
The La Grande Country Club will celebrate its 75th anniversary Saturday.
The celebration, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is for the general public to see the facilities and play golf. Seventy-five players will play nine holes. Non-members will need to pay $7.50.
There will be hot dogs and hamburgers for the public. Those coming to the celebration can see how the facilities have changed over the years.
The golf course was built in 1924. The club was established in 1928. The original facility was built west of town.
Significant changes have included doubling the size of the dining facilities and hosting non-member functions. The deck was completed in 1983 and the lounge was added in 1970.
PGA Professional Bill Rosholt has played golf for 44 years and has been at the club for the past 23 years. Rosholt said the original course was hilly and tough to maintain.
Chase Bohnenkamp found the property where the club is situated now at 10605 S. McAlister in Island City.
The board of directors purchased the site and made changes by building a golf course at the Island City location.
Rosholt said gang mowers pulled by horses were used to mow the fairways.
"It was very industrial work," Rosholt said.
The club house was completed in 1930.
"We've been in business ever since," Rosholt said.
Rosholt said the thing he has noticed is most of the kids who played as juniors now have kids of their own and are involved with the club.
He has also noticed the improvements over the years.
"I think how quickly the golf course improved," Rosholt said. "Probably the biggest thing is how the La Grande Country Club for a small facility keeps up with technology and makes this the nicest golf course in the Pacific Northwest."
Rosholt said the course has come a long way from the gang mowers.
"The new equipment has made the quality of the golf course so much better," he said.
Rosholt said that while the club now has 265 members, it's still a family.
"It is very close-knit," he said. "Over time, everyone knows everyone. Everyone goes out and plays golf with each other. It's a fun time."
In 1954, PGA Professional Ralph Moberry suggested opening up membership.
Rosholt said the misperception is the club is an enlisted group.
Non-members who play and live in Union County can use the course twice a year.
The course has been a 9-hole course from the beginning. Rosholt said the course has not had major overhauls.
Rosholt said one of the greatest celebrities to play on the course was Byron Nelson.
Rosholt said Nelson, who at the time was 85, enjoyed the course and remembered La Grande fondly.
The junior golf program has been successful, he added. It is available to those from ages 7 to 17.
Rosholt said he has seen many young golfers improve and become state champions.
"It's real remarkable how a young person progresses through the years," he said.
Rosholt said other members help out beginning golfers, too.
"People take golfers under their wing," he said.
There have been many on-going events at the club such as the Elks Tournament, Fairway Frolics Couples tournament, 2-men best ball and women's masters tournament.
"One thing most pleasing to us is the fact a lot of the same people come year after year," Rosholt said. "We're obviously doing something right."