Tri-City Golf Course celebrates 75 years

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Tri-City Golf Club, nestled in the hills outside Luana, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Tri-City is a 2,821-yard, nine-hole public golf course with a par of 34.

“It’s one of the top 10 courses for greenness in the whole state,” member Dwain Wolter boasted of Tri-City.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

“It’s sometimes referred to as the course nobody knows about because it’s out in the middle of nowhere,” recounted clubhouse manager Jackie Radloff Schneider of Tri-City Golf Course, which is nestled in the hills outside Luana.

While “one of the best kept secrets in Northeast Iowa” (according to long-time member Donna Thompson) might be off the radar of some, it’s been filled with history for many. This year, Tri-City celebrates 75 years.

The club began in 1940, when three carloads of men from Monona, Luana and Postville set out to find a location for a golf course located between Monona and Postville. Three sites were considered, with the men settling on an area east of the highway of the Herman Pruess farm near Hardin for its central location, good lay of the land and creek.

A farm lease was entered into in October of that year for around 38 acres, and signed by president C. Adrian Riveland and vice president Leon T. Birdsell. Rent was $175 per year. The rent was increased to $300 in 1954 and persisted until 1960, when Tri-City was given the option to purchase the property for $10,000.

The course was first expanded on Nov. 13, 1961, when 6.9 acres were purchased from Harva Miller for $2,037. This was done to lengthen the course and put in grass greens.

Before that, the course was sand, making for an interesting golfing experience. Crank car oil was sprinkled on the sand recalled member Dwain Wolter, who’s been involved with the club since 1953. A rake-like contraption—which was a three-foot-wide two-inch pipe welded to a six-foot-long one-inch pipe—was used to clear the way to the hole.

“You pulled that across and it gave a nice surface,” Dwain explained. “It was like putting on linoleum. Once you had a good path, it could be there all summer.”

While professional golfer Jack Jones of Waterloo laid out the original grass green course, it was up to the members to bring the plans to fruition, with each of them assigned to a green.

“It was all put in by ourselves,” Dwain said, recalling how they mixed the peat to seed the grass. “The putting green was my green.”

Donna has been involved with Tri-City since 1950, when she came with her parents while a sophomore in high school. She and her husband joined in 1955 when they were married. Her husband helped build No. 4, she said.

“The guys slept there overnight to make sure it was watered,” she recalled.

“Now, it’s automatically watered,” quipped Jackie.

The second expansion occurred on April 18, 1988, when 17 acres of land were purchased from Roger Russett for $40,000. Aside from the creation of Tri-City’s picturesque pond several years ago, not much has changed course-wise since, Jackie said.

Over the years, Donna said the social aspect Tri-City has provided for its patrons has been one of the club’s most-valued qualities.

“Back then, you farmed and played golf. It was the only place to get out to,” she said. “Couples were not as involved in other things. Times have changed.”

The clubhouse was a major part of that social interaction, playing host to fish fries, wedding receptions, parties, dances, ladies and mens groups and family night potlucks. The kids enjoyed use of a playground, Donna recalled. The kids were eventually taken home for the evening, at which point the women and men played cards separately.

Donna said it was at Tri-City that she learned how to play bridge.

“I got bridge lessons from the doctor’s wife and the home ec teacher. It was quite an interesting group,” she said, mentioning that the newbies used flash cards to learn the game.

The ladies still partake in bridge on their Tuesday ladies days, Donna said.

“It’s really good for the mind and keeps you going,” she said.

Donna estimated Tri-City’s membership peaked around 225. Jackie said it’s currently 165. A co-ed senior day, as well as ladies and mens days are offered weekly.

“I just enjoy coming to the golf course, even if I don’t golf anymore,” Donna said.

“Every spring, people say, ‘It’s good to be back here,’” added Jackie. “It gets you away from the hustle and bustle.”

Tri-City is a 2,821-yard, nine-hole public golf course with a par of 34.

“The yardage isn’t long, but it’s challenging,” Jackie said. It has hills and you cross water the first four holes.”

It’s also known as one of the best-kept courses, she added, referencing the dedicated groundscrew.

“It’s one of the top 10 courses for greenness in the whole state,” Dwain boasted. “My sons play all over and say it’s fun to come and play here because it’s always green. The clubhouse is also very nice.”

“It’s been a great place all these years,” he added. “The fact that three small towns were able to make it usable and last all these years is pretty neat.”

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