'IF IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR IKE'
This is an article from the April 22, 1957 issue
Now that the weather is beginning to break, the early-morning routine of Ed Wiggins, a farmer of Red Cloud, Neb. (pop. 1,500), is fairly well set. What Ed will do now is get up at the crack of dawn, milk the cows, lower the milk cans into the water cooler and then hop into the cab of his flatbed truck and drive out to the Red Cloud Country Club for nine holes of golf. Like as not, he'll share a 60¢ breakfast of hotcakes and eggs with his foursome at the Royal Hotel later on, and then drive back to the farm to find the milk cooled and ready for the trip to the dairy.
Maybe Richard D. Schanot, whose farm is near Union, Neb., won't work it quite that way. Schanot, who milks 30 cows and tends 120 hogs on his 160-acre farm, may wait until all the chores are done and then pile the whole family (wife Dorothy, daughter Joyce, 12, son Richard Jr., 16) into the car and drive 15 miles to the Steinhart Park Country Club. While the elder Schanot golfs, the rest of the family will have a swim in the club pool and then they will have dinner on a terrace overlooking the pool.
What's happening to Farmer Wiggins and Farmer Schanot is happening to many another farmer in the rural Midwest. There's a golf boom on, and it's bitten not only farmers but small-town businessmen, gasoline-station attendants, lawyers and bankers. The cracker barrel in the general store is no longer the center of political discussion and small talk. The scene has shifted to the 19th hole.
The man who started the rural golf boom, according to those caught fast in its grip, is the nation's most celebrated golfer, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"A fellow kind of feels kindred to a man like Ike, who fishes for trout and hunts quail just as we do around here," says John Kovar, banker of Missouri Valley, Iowa. "A fellow figures he might try golf, something he wouldn't ordinarily do, just because Ike plays."
John Schumacher of Nebraska City thinks the President has given the game its "biggest assist in 50 years." "Some farmers may be a little peeved at folks in Washington," he said, "but they like and respect Ike. They say, 'If golf is good enough for Ike, it's good enough for us.' "
Some of the rural country clubs that are springing up boast such refinements as grass greens. Others are getting along with oiled sand greens. The Red Cloud club has a nine-hole course and a park with benches bearing the names of such donors as "Bruce Frame, Real Estate" and "Carl Gass, Insurance." The Red Cloud village board underwrites the maintenance of the course. The cost is about $750 a year, but some part of that figure is met by mowing the hay along the fairways and selling it to nearby cattle ranchers.
No town showed more ingenuity in getting itself a country club than Alma, Neb. Five years ago the town (pop. 1,756) took over an abandoned Burlington Railroad depot, moved it just beyond the village limits to get that "outside-the-city country club atmosphere." Some shacks left over from Civilian Conservation Corps days were transformed into a lodge. A nine-hole sand greens course was built, a baseball diamond laid out and a $60,000 swimming pool constructed. Said one of the venture's sponsors, a banker named Merrill North wall: "Other towns would give their village squares to have what we have. We are really living now."
Altogether, Iowa has 150 golf courses now and Nebraska has 85. Country club life suits everybody—farmers, storekeepers, businessmen and professional men—just fine. A Nebraska farmer summed up the feeling about the Eisenhower game. "It's relaxing," he said. "When I'm playing golf, there aren't any hog prices, droughts or corn crops on my mind."
FLORIDA CROP BEGINS TO RIPEN
With U.S. tennis in near-desperate straits for future Davis and Wightman Cup stars, sunny Florida put the accent on youth and came up with nine serene prospects at the State Junior tennis championships at Daytona Beach last week—the youngest threat to Australia being just 8 years old