Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Keegan: Happy 10th birthday, Eagle Bend

July 2, 2008


If Alvamar Country Club pro Randy Towner's wit were any drier, it would combust, and all those trees that leave a signature on my golf balls would burn to the ground.

What is the origin, Towner was asked, of the Zoysia grass on Alvamar's fairways?

"It's Korean," he answered.


"South Korean," Towner added.

Not wanting any association with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, Towner improvised. Or perhaps he is jealous of Kim's ability.

In his first round of golf, Kim carded a 34 on a 7,700-yard course and, get this, had 11 holes-in-one. Honest, government officials said he did. If only the networks could convince Kim to take a break from dictating to fill Tiger Woods' spot on the tour until his knee recovers.

Oh well, at least Korea gave us Zoysia, a grass well-suited to hot, muggy, I-70 climates.

As Eagle Bend turns 10 years old, the most newsworthy development involves the gradual facelift it is undergoing. Starting with the first and 10th fairways, the course is moving from blue grass rye to Zoysia. The hope is it will be able to supply itself with the grass. Back when a greenskeeper was called a greenskeeper, a sod farm was called a sod farm. Since a greenskeeper is now a superintendent, a sod farm is now a turf nursery.

The initial cost of Zoysia is high, but as Alvamar has shown, maintaining it is relatively inexpensive, in part because of its turf nursery.

Halfway home to paying off the 20-year bonds that financed construction, Eagle Bend isn't likely to show profit until 10 years from now, but aside from that note and with the benefit of free water from the city, Eagle Bend does take in more money than it spends.

Thursday, in celebration of its big birthday, Eagle Bend is rolling back prices 10 years. John Morris, golf course supervisor, remembers well the course's first day. Although he's only in his eighth year at Eagle Bend, Morris, then golf coach at Haskell Indian Nations University, showed up to help the course's first pro, Jim Kane, get through the first day.

Morris counts as a highlight a day he played with Kane when he shot a course-record 62.

Mark Twain called golf "a good walk spoiled."

In the case of Eagle Bend, it's more like a good nature hike spoiled.

"We were coming up on 15," Morris said of a memorable nature experience. "We kept seeing this doe run along our cart in the weeds by the out of bounds. We were getting closer to the green, and the deer stopped and got in the thicket by the cart path, and she just kept watching us. I said, 'Why is she watching us so much?' I peeked over, and in the grass there was her fawn. She was watching us to make sure we didn't get too close, those big brown eyes, watching us the whole time."

On one winter day, Morris watched a pair of eagles pecking at a fresh fish on the practice green. Once, while giving a lesson in the summer, a young lady stopped, looked skyward at circling birds and said, "Look at how beautiful those eagles are."

"I didn't have the heart to tell her they were buzzards," Morris said.

- For a look back at Eagle Bend's first 10 years, watch Channel 6 at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. today.


Mr_Missive 7 years, 4 months ago

Eagle Bend is just another example of a government program that doesn't work. The topper would be to put a Roundabout between the first and tenth tee boxes. It is a joke of a golf course. Awful land made worse.

hail2oldku 7 years, 4 months ago

I too enjoy the course. For a muni, it is actually fairly challenging. Not quite a links format, but definitely a links influence.My only problem with EB is I thought it was projected to be self-sustaining by now.

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