HISTORY OF THE WELLINGTON GOLF CLUB
The land that the Wellington Golf Club is located on was purchased by the City of Wellington from the Woods Estate on September 16, 1919 for $12,000. There were approximately 145 acres involved in the purchase and it was only a short time later that the Wellington Golf Club was organized.
The original 75 members of the club donated $10.00 each for the construction of a nine hold sand green golf course. They obtained the services of Mr. Nelson, a golf professional from Wichita, to help lay out the course. Mr. Nelson declared he had never seen a better natural layout for a golf course. The Wellington citizen were so supportive of the new course that is was soon expanded to 18 holes and hosted its first tournament in 1920.
` Mr. Lynn Burris, who was the City of Wellington Park Superintendent for many years, took care of the golf course and collected green fees from his truck as he toured the course. Mr. Burris was responsible for planting and nurturing the hundreds of mature trees that we are fortunate to enjoy today. Mr. Burris’ reputation as an expert on trees was known throughout the area.
By 1959, the public became interested in converting the sand greens t grass. A fund raising campaign that was conducted through the Chamber of Commerce was successful in raising $29,000 for the construction of the new grass greens. The greens construction began in 1960, and they were carefully nursed through the growth stage by members that took responsibility for each green. The new greens were opened play in 1962 along with a new clubhouse that provided accommodations for the golfers with a snack bar and restrooms.
In 1969, Gerald E. Gill became the golf professional/ superintendent for the City of Wellington. He was one of the few who had earned membership in both the Professional Golfers Association and the Golf Course Superintendents Association. Under his direction the golf course continued to improve and became self sufficient for the City. During his tenure a single row quick coupler watering system was installed for the betterment of the golf course. By 1980, the need for a larger clubhouse was evident, and again the golfers responded by donating $52,000 for the clubhouse expansion, which was completed in the fall of that year.
Gerald had a great ability to promote tournaments and started the Wellington Pro-Am and Wellington 4-Ball in 1969 to go along with the popular Wheat Capital Invitational that had been played since the 1950’s. The Pro-Am event has brought some of the finest players in the country to Wellington.
The Wellington Golf Club has been the home course for several champions of its own. Three Wellington Members have won the Kansas State Amateur Championship. Alex Graham won the title in 1922 and 1923, Bob Dare in 1969, and Scott Templeton in 1982. Steve Gill won the Kansas State Junior Championship in 1970, and Myles Miller brought home the title in 2009. Derek Harrison won the Kansas Mid-Am Championship in 2010. There have also been numerous K.S.H.S.A.A. Championships won by Wellington High School players.
The Wellington Golf Club then was under supervision of Steve Gill beginning in 1984, when he became the director of golf upon the retirement of his father. Steve was a class A member of both the Professional Golfers Association and the Golf Course Superintendent Association. Steve’s goals and objectives were to provide a professional managed golf facility for the public in which to enhance their enjoyment of the game of golf. Some of his accomplishments were implementing tree planting programs, replaced eroded asphalt cart paths with concrete, new bridges, pond renovation, new tee boxes, and adding a few bunkers.
In 1998, Steve helped persuade the City to purchase the golf cart rental fleet from a private enterprise that had owned it for 25 years. That action has enabled the City to have access to more revenue for capital improvements to the golf course. The “Capital Improvement Fund” was set up to accumulate funds for major projects with the first project being the installation of a double row automatic irrigation system. The irrigation system was going to cost about $190,000 so to the Wellington Golf Association conducted a fund raising drive to meet the desired total. A total of $87,950 in donation was received and the new irrigation system was operating in May of 1994. The “Capital Improvement Fund” is currently accumulating funds to be used in future projects, which could possible include a golf course renovation. Steve’s efforts toward the Wellington Golf Club were endless up until his retirement in the fall of 2012. He helped to make Wellington Golf Club one of the finest public facilities in the area that individuals from all over the region come to enjoy.
After an extensive search to find a replacement for Mr. Gill, the City of Wellington hired Wellington native, Derek Harrison to become the new Director of Golf in October of 2012.