The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 4, 2013

The Kiwanis Golf Course

Can you imagine golf and putting on black, oiled, sticky, sand greens?  How can they be "greens," if they were black?  The old Kiwanis Golf Course on 13th Ave. North and 4th Street was such a place, and in addition, it was very hilly. When it was built in the late 1890’s, the Big Tree was across the street but it was soon torn down and a new one was chosen for that honor over on Second Street. 13th Avenue North was the demarcation line between Clinton and Lyons.

Frank Ellis, the lawyer, who was famous for the beautiful mansion on Sixth Avenue South, and for building a big, little playhouse for his invalid daughter, was the proud owner of the first set of golf clubs in Clinton about 1898. Later, he built another mansion on North 4th Street nearer the golf course. Following in his golf footsteps was O.D. Collis who lived in a mansion near Kiwanis, and was one of the leaders who started the Clinton Country Club in 1920.  I imagine that Roscoe Wagner wasn't far behind him.  I always remember Mr. Wagner sitting on a bench at the Harrison Drive crossing between the upper and lower nines.

However, Kiwanis was the place that beginners started.  Note in the picture that the man with the overly stiff knees and knickers, was teeing of toward the east, and you can see the brewery tower on Second Street.  His caddie wouldn't say a word, even if he was a better golfer and knew that he should loosen up a bit.  Today, all this area is filled with houses and 13th Ave. no longer meanders like a giant snake from out in the country to busy Fourth Street.

My favorite hole at Kiwanis was #2 high along the ridge and adjacent to the long servant's apartments of one of the mansions.  If you teed off and hooked the ball, it might hit the building and bounce back into the fairway as a good, long shot.  Hole #3 was across the gulley and one day a rascal golfer hit one into the weed-filled rough at the bottom, near where an electric fence kept cows corralled.  His partner, Jocko Langfitt, knew that he hit a Titleist, number 2 and would dishonestly acknowledge any found ball as his.  So, Jocko had it perfectly marked and went right to it, and said, "what are you shooting?"  The well-known response from the well-know prevaricator was, "what is it?"  Jocko said, "it's a Maxfli," to which the duffer replied firmly, "THAT'S IT!"  "Oh, sorry," Jocko answered, "it's a Titleist," and he put it in his pocket.

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