Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in a 1988 edition of The Gardner News. A 30-year contract for management of the Gardner Golf Course expires in 2018.
The old cliché about “the grass being greener” is coming true at Gardner golf
course, where construction on grass greens and a new lake is underway.
The nine hold course presently has sand greens, but that will all change during the next few months as construction progresses and the area is seeded, according to Kevin Pargman. Construction began on the course on Aug. 30, 1990.
Pargman and Jim Pruitt, partners, will have a 30-year lease on the property, effective in October, Pargman said. Pargman will build the course, and Pruitt is to be the operator, he said.
According to Del Dolisi, Gardner city administrator, the property has been leased to Pargman and Pruitt for $1,000 per year or two percent of the gross, whichever is greater.
“The previous council decided it would be in the city’s best interest,” Dolisi said.
Although the city renewed a lease with the golf association in June, a clause allowed the city to give the association 30 days notice to terminate the lease, Dolisi said.
“They (golf association) waived the 30 days and allowed the contractors to begin work,” Dolisi said.
Dolisi said the city’s primary motive for establishing a new lease with Pargman and Pruitt was to better serve the public.
“It wasn’t really to make a profit,” Dolisi said.
According to Melvin Argo, a member of the association, the golf course began in 1973 when the new organization leased former farm ground from the city for $1 per year.
“We did most of the work in 1974,” Argo said. “It was just farm land.”
”The first year, we sold memberships for $25 apiece, and we had over 100 members,” Argo said.
Argo said members of the new association designed the course and did the labor free of charge.
“We laid it out for the holes and greens and sowed it all down in bluegrass,” Argo said.
Pargman said he is amazed at how well the members designed and maintained the course.
“The people here have done an excellent job of starting a golf course,” Pargman said. “And we want to continue it.”
Members planted from 250 to 300 trees during the first years, Argo said.
“We dug the holes, went out to the creek, got the trees and planted them,” he said. “Except for the cedars. Those were donated by John Hodges.”
“That was a dry year, about like this, so we had to water them that year and the next,” Argo said.
Pargman said he is hoping for rain.
“I need one real good one,” he said.
Presently the course does not have an irrigation system, but one will be installed for the greens and tees, Pargman said.
The lake, presently under construction, will provide water for an automatic irrigation system, he said.
Plans are also underway to eventually irrigate the fairways and add another nine holes to the course, Pargman said.
“We plan to go 18 and we did lease enough property from the city to put the back nine in,” he said.
At this time, Pargman said an exact timetable for the future construction had not been set.
“We are setting up to irrigate the fairways, but that will come in the next year,” Pargman said. “We’ll have to build a pond in the back to provide water.”
Pargman said he has built approximately 20 golf courses, including three in Wichita.
“I build golf courses,” he said. “I’ve been watching this course for about eight years.”
Gardner and surrounding areas are ready to grow, Pargman believes.
“I’ll pick out a spot that I think will develop, and I build,” he said.
A course with grass greens will be an advantage to Gardner, he said.
“A lot of companies will look at a town and one of the biggest things they look at is recreational facilities for upper management,” Pargman said.
As an example, he said western Kansas has trouble attracting industries because there is nothing to do.
“Golf courses are one of those things that represent a community,” he said.
The course should remain affordable to the public, Pargman said.
“It will operate as a public golf course, but we’ll have memberships available on a yearly basis,” he said.
Exact costs have not yet been determined.
“But it will definitely be affordable,” Pargman said.
Affordability is one issue present golf course association members are concerned about, according to Argo.
“Now the whole family can play golf for about $40,” he said.
Argo said he is sad to see the course change, but he agrees grass greens will draw players from surrounding areas.
“Sand greens are not as popular. You have got to drag the sand, then play your ball, then rake it,” he said. “You have to get all of the tracks out of there for the next guy.”
There are about 50 golf courses with sand greens in Kansas, Argo said. They are primarily in small communities.
“It takes a lot of money to put grass greens in,” he said.
Pargman declined to disclose his cost to “reconstruct” the Gardner golf course.
Presently, Argo said golf courses in Lenexa, Olathe and Kansas City are crowded.
“You have to get there before daylight to get a spot,” he said.
Often personnel at those courses will send players to Gardner to play on the sand, he said.
“I suppose (the change) will be for the best,” said Argo. “A lot of people will play on the grass greens.”
Last year, the golf association had 107 members, Argo said. Current members of the association will be allowed to play through Dec. 31, according to Pargman.