100th anniversary of Schifferdecker Golf Course celebrated with ceremony

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Jun. 30—Community members, golfers and city officials celebrated Wednesday's 100th anniversary for the Schifferdecker Golf Course much like their predecessors did when they opened the course a century ago.

There were speeches, lemonade and free rounds of golf starting with ceremonial drives from the first hole by Mayor Pro Tem Keenan Cortez, parks Director Paul Bloomberg and Ozark Amateur 2021 winner Jordan Burk. There also was a ribbon-cutting by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.

"Through the years the course has evolved as well as the players and their equipment," community historian Brad Belk said at a 10 a.m. ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the course. "Today we thank those visionary golfing pioneers from 100 years ago for adding another feature to Schifferdecker Park. This course stands as testimony to those Joplin residents that rallied to create it. We are forever grateful."

"This is a great day for the city of Joplin to be celebrating the 100th birthday of Schifferdecker Golf Course," Cortez said. "There's a need for something like this, good quality physical activity in our community. This course is beautiful." He challenged area golfers to visit Schifferdecker and check out the condition and the par-71 holes that challenge players.

"If you haven't been out to Schifferdecker, you really need to, especially if you're a golfer," Bloomberg said. While many activities have seen a decline in participants because of COVID-19, the course has seen a sizable increase in the last couple of years from about 19,000 rounds of golf played to around 26,000, he said.

Last Saturday's anniversary golf tournament was sold out with 225 players. The 74th Ozark Amateur to be played July 9-10 is the most popular tournament and also is fully booked, golf course officials said.

Burk, of Carl Junction, has been playing golf 20 years. He has played in the Ozark Amateur since he was 16. "I always wanted to win it, and doing it last year was a very big accomplishment for me," Burk said. "I still can't believe I won it" after playing 12 or 13 times.

Schifferdecker was inspired by a private course, Oak Hill Golf Course in the area of Iron Gates, which became Twin Hills Golf and Country Club. Schiffedecker was first laid out as a nine-hole course on 160 acres of land donated to the city by entrepreneur and philanthropist Charles Schifferdecker. Belk said Schifferdecker acquired the property, which had served as a dairy farm, to search for lead and zinc, but drilling yielded neither. He left the land to Joplin in his will when he died in 1915.

At that time, though, the city did not have the money to develop the land, and it sat for several years until sources of donations were accumulated to build the course.

It was a hit from the start, Belk said, expanding to 18 holes within two years. "This made Schifferdecker the only course in the four-state region to boast 18 holes with grass greens," he said.

Schif, as it is nicknamed, also draws women players.

"I've played here a lot of years, and we like it," golfer Karen Brown said. "It's a good course."

It is home to the Schifferdecker Women's Golf Association, which is preparing for an upcoming tournament.

Betty Moss, of Baxter Springs, Kansas, and president of the association, has been playing there about 18 years. "I absolutely love this course," she said, commending the work of Daryn Buholt, the PGA pro for the course, and Maron Towse, course superintendent.

The women's upcoming tournament, a two-lady scramble, will get a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, Moss said.

Buholt said that the conditions at the course, which draw compliments from the golfers, are "just part of our normal routine. Everyone takes pride of the final product."

It is becoming more rare to have a golf course that has marked its 100th year, he said.

"As the years go by, there's more and more, but there's probably not very many that have reached that," Buholt said.

The anniversary "comes at a great time when golf is booming. and I hope that continues for the next 100 years," he said.