By George Kampling

Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Jeff DeCook, the new professional golfer at Valley Oaks Golf Course, is pleased with the play of the course in the early days of the year.

“We actually had a pretty good April, and I was very happy with the amount of play for the month,” he said. “I am expecting a better-than-normal May, as well, once the weather breaks.”

DeCook came to Valley Oaks from Cedar Rapids, where he worked for the municipal courses. Before that, he spent three years Highland Springs in Rock Island, Ill.

He was the first assistant golf professional at Jones Golf Course in Cedar Rapids and was the first assistant pro at the Highland Springs course.

DeCook, a certified Ping and Titlist club fitter, went to Davenport Central High School, graduating in 2000. He was a member of the Blue Devils golf team and played in the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s state tournament. He did not play golf in college for he turned professional right out of high school.

DeCook met his future wife, Melissa, also from Davenport, while the two of them were in high school. The couple was married in October 2008 in Davenport.

“Our course superintendent, Kurt McCaully, has done an awesome job getting the course ready for play with all the rain we’ve had so far,” DeCook said. “We are doing some bunker work — a couple of bunkers will be removed — and we’re working on the overall look of the bunkers. This is being done now.

“We are also going to be planting wildflowers in some of the no-mow areas. We are hoping this will really jazz up the look of the course. We have a new general manager, Kevin McDougall, who is doing a wonderful job coordinating the overall operation.”

DeCook said: “We are offering many events this year. I am extremely excited for this golf season and the quality of golf available to the public for its enjoyment. We have a top-notch staff ready to make the season a success for all golfers. There are 2009 season memberships and punch passes available for golfers

“Earlier I had no idea how well our outing/tournament schedule would shape up with the economy the way it is. I feel we have a great start to the year with the Memorial 8-inch Cup we have scheduled for May 23. There is still room to sign up but it is filling fast.”

The Memorial 8-inch Cup is a flighted, four-person scramble, with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. The $40 entry ($160 per team) includes golf cart, meal and cash prizes.

Other highlights for the year include a Callaway Demo Day on May 24; Junior Program starting July 1; Bud Light 8-inch Cup tournament, July 10; The Valley Oaks 8-inch Cup tournament Sept. 26; and the Valley Oaks Chili Open on Oct. 17.

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