Man offers use of his golf course to seniors

Monday, May 4, 2009
Daily American Republic Herbert Webb has opened his Walking Stick Golf Course to the public. The par-3 course has nine holes and includes two ponds and three sand traps.

FAIRDEALING, Mo. -- No commute. No tee times. No impatient golfers waiting one hole back.

This is what Fairdealing resident Herbert Webb looks forward to every time he steps out his front door and onto his very own course to tee off for nine relaxing holes of golf. And it is something the 74-year-old would like to share with other seniors.

He is finally ready to open his Walking Stick Golf Course to the public, Webb said recently during a tour of the par-3 course, which includes two ponds and three sand traps.

At no charge, he would like to make his homemade course available to seniors and their guests.

"I want to give back to seniors," Webb said. "To give them a place where they can play as much as they want, bring their friends and grandkids, and not have to worry like on a regular golf course where everyone is in a hurry."

The Walking Stick Golf Course, named for Webb's hand-carved walking sticks, sits on BB-1, a gravel road a short distance from Highway 160.

The course totals about 20 acres, of which Webb has to mow some 10 acres.

Allergic to grass, he doesn't let that, or age, stop progress of the course he began building 15 years ago.

"My wife had rheumatoid arthritis and the doctor said she needed to walk more so I started cleaning the place up," Webb said, as he pointed out the practice net set up at the start of his course. "I started mowing and then I thought this looked like a nice place to put a green. A friend said we should put a flag in the ground and then later put a hole at the other end so we could hit farther and that's how it started."

His wife, Melba, an avid golfer who competed in tournaments in the area, helped Webb in the early years with planting grass seed on the greens.

She died a little more than a year ago, after 52 years of marriage, and for a while, Webb said, he did not do anything with their golf course.

This week the grass is cut and the equipment, including a number of golf balls and clubs, is ready for guests.

The majority of the course has been cut out of the woods near his home and Webb is still clearing trees and stumps as he continues to add to and improve his course. Through the years he has planted and replanted his greens, fighting deer, gophers and armadillos who alternately ate the grass seed and left large holes in the carefully built up and leveled grounds.

"I don't know that much about this, but I'm learning," said Webb, who planted some holes with Bermuda grass several times before learning zoysia grass would take the heat better and require less water.

The water needed to keep the farthest greens healthy required Webb to hand dig water lines in at least two directions. One line stretches about 200 yards. He also hand-shoveled 11 yards of dirt out of one of his ponds to add height to his greens.

The greatest distance separating two holes is 162 yards, with half that interrupted by a pond. Every hole can be reached with irons, Webb said.

As a young man, he was too busy raising a family to spend much time golfing, Webb said.

Now he seems to spend more time maintaining his course than playing, but Webb still has many improvements he would like to see completed on the Walking Stick Golf Course.

Webb can be reached at 573-707-1833.

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