The game of golf can raise strong opinions among people. Some have said “golf” is “flog” spelled backwards. Mark Twain referred to golf as “a good walk spoiled.”
However you look at it, golf is very popular around the world.
Although no specific date can be determined, the first golf course in Gering was located just south of the Scotts Bluff National Monument. It was primitive by any description — a nine-hole sand green course that only operated for a few years.
The next course at that location had better luck near the foot of Dome Rock. It lasted about 15 years, but had its own challenges.
First of all, golfers had to cross through David Wiedeman’s private property, then cross a bridge over a canyon to reach the sod clubhouse.
The house had been built during the 1930s by workers from the Works Progress Administration, one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to get Americans back to work during the Great Depression.
Because the clubhouse was located on government land, golf course members couldn’t make any improvements. Also, Wiedeman didn’t appreciate trespassers on his land.
After some years of operation, the Gering Golf Course closed after the new Riverside Golf Course opened in Scottsbluff with much better facilities.
Another golf course, located more to the north at the monument, dates back even farther. The first organizational meeting of the Scotts Bluff Country Club took place in November 1915.
A committee was established to gather information pertaining to club membership. Another committee was tasked with determining whether property was available for a golf course and other club amenities.
By December 1915, the organizational committee approved the $200,000 purchase of land where a golf course could be developed. It was located at the base of the monument.
When club by-laws were hammered out in February 1916, all members had to purchase at least one share of capital stock at five dollars a share. Annual dues were $10 for residents and $5 for non-resident members, clergymen and junior members.
Expansion was the order of business for the country club in its early years. Construction of the first clubhouse got started in February 1916. Once finished, the cost of construction was $2,480.
The country club officially opened that September with a nine-hole sand green golf course. And in 1923, another adjacent 25 acres were added to expand the course to 18 holes.
The course stayed at 18 holes until just after World War II. Country club officers decided to plant grass to replace the sand greens. But because of the course’s location, getting water to the greens was problematic.
The solution was to keep the grass greens, but scale the course back to nine holes.
The clubhouse building lasted until 1946, when it was destroyed by fire. Its replacement was a more modern brick structure. A swimming pool was included in the new construction.
In 1978, Country Club officials were contacted by the National Park Service. They wanted to purchase part of the grounds to keep a buffer next to the monument.
It cost the government $600,000, but included land where the clubhouse was located, plus the golf course’s Number 1 fairway and Number 9 green.
The sale was also advantageous to the Scotts Bluff Country Club. Officials were looking for enough land where they could expand the golf course back to 18 holes.
With money from the Park Service, they were able to relocate north of Scottsbluff on Highway 71 — and the club is still located there.
The remainder of the land not purchased by the government for their monument buffer was taken over by the City of Gering. They built a clubhouse and a nine-hole municipal golf course at the site.
In the later 1990s, enough additional land was available to expand the course to 18 holes. Plus it was given a new name — Monument Shadows Golf Course.
Gering Mayor Doug Leafgreen had the honor of opening the course with a golf shot from one of his irons. He topped the ball, which rolled about 20 yards down the course.