leoIn July 1919, Leo and his family moved to Goodland from Des Moines, Iowa, to operate a newly purchased barber shop. Having played golf in Iowa, he brought along a few golf clubs. He soon discovered that no one knew much about playing golf and there had never been any interest in having a golf course. During the following months he created interest in the game.
By the spring of 1920 he had gathered enough support and ask the County Commissioners for permission to layout a course at the county fairgrounds. The commissioners approved and Leo began a membership drive. Sixteen people paid the $10.00 dues and a golf club was formed. He laid out the course in March 1920.
As the game became more popular, it became apparent that the fairgrounds course was too small and there was no way to expand at this location.
In November 1921, a quarter section of pasture land three miles west of Goodland came up for sale. Leo and another member looked the ground over and decided it would make a good golf course. On November 14, 1921 a local banker and club member negotiated the land purchase for $17.50 per acre.
A new golf organization, The Goodland Golf Club, was formed and $100.00 shares were sold to members to finance the purchase. The next day the members began measuring and laying out the new nine hole course. Leo was asked to build the course. On November 21, 1921 he hired two brothers who owned a team of horses, an old wagon, a plow and a scraper, and they began building the course. The greens were made by scrapping off the grass and covering the ground with sand mixed with oil. The course was opened for play December 12, 1921, and has remained the home of golf to the present day.
In the Spring of 1932 the course was redesigned and expanded to eighteen holes with sand greens. It remained an eighteen hole sand greens course for the next thirty seven years.
Leo’s active part in building and maintaining the course ended in the mid-1950s, but his interest in playing the game and supporting the club continued. leo2
In August of 1968 a new corporation was formed and the Goodland Golf Club became Sugar Hills Golf Club, Inc., and plans were made to redesign the course with nine holes and grass greens. Later that year, Leo was presented a lifetime membership in recognition of pioneering the interest in golf and for his many years of active involvement wit the course and the club.
The new nine hole course, with grass greens officially opened July 4, 1969. Leo teed off with the first foursome that day.
Leo was born in Pretty Prairie, Kansas in 1893. He moved with his family to Des Moines, Iowa in 1901. He married Beulah Bean and they had three children; Leola (Ihrig), Virginia (Banberry) and James. Leo enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years in F Co, 1st US Infantry in WWI. He was a member of the First Christian Church, and was a Mason for more than 50 years, serving the Masonic Lodge and York Rite Bodies as secretary for 40 years until his death. He was a Rotarian for 50 years and served one term as District Governor.
Leo won many tournaments in Goodland and surrounding towns. He was scratch golfer for many years. Leo’s last round of golf and his life ended July 6, 1979. He died of an apparent heart attack while playing the par three No. 2 hole at Sugar Hills Golf Club. Leo was 85 years old.