Pelican Lakes and RainDance National in Windsor, CO host tens of thousands of golf rounds a year. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely played one or both of our Northern Colorado golf courses.
But did you know that Pelican Lakes wasn’t the first golf course in Windsor when it opened in July of 1999?
This is the tale of the Windsor Golf Course.
In 1927 Windsor welcomed a 9-hole golf course southeast of town. The Windsor Golf Course was infamous for its sand-oiled greens, gorgeous views of the Front Range mountains and leisure pace.
The course was located roughly 2 miles southwest of another ancient Windsor-area pleasure resort, the Sharktooth Ski Resort. (Sharktooth operated on bluffs southeast of Windsor from 1971-86.) If one zoomed in on the golf course property on Google Earth, the only holes you’ll see are those made by prairie dogs.
In the April 28, 1927, edition of the now defunct Windsor Leader newspaper, the “Windsor Community Club discussed the matter of a golf course for Windsor. A motion was made and carried authorizing the chair to appoint a committee of three to see what can be done….18 or 20 signed up to become members of a golf club if one should be organized.” The committee visited land owned by H.O. Adcock for the proposed golf course. In July of that year bylaws for the club were adopted and a $15 annual membership was established.
In 1927, the par at the Windsor Golf Course, organized by the member-driven Windsor Golf Club, was 33. In April of 1928, G.I. Richards, the chairman of the greens committee, increased the yardage more than 500 yards and changed the par to 36. “When all of the improvements are completed, old golf men declare that this will be one of the snappiest courses in this section of the state,” reported in the Windsor Leader on April 12, 1928.
According to Tom Morey, a 90-year-old Windsor native and former owner of Morey’s Glass & Metals at 124 Main Street, the Windsor Golf Course was an ideal refuge for residents to hone their golf game.
“There wasn’t a fee to play golf,” said Morey from the glass shop he sold to his son Doug but still puts in a solid work week. “It was a donation. There wasn’t anyone out there. You could play anytime.”
The Windsor Leader reported in its June 14, 1928, edition that “the Loveland Golf Club sent ten members to Windsor as the guests of the Windsor Golf Club for inter-club matches. Nine holes played in the morning. Luncheon was held at the Royal Café. Nine holes of golf were then played in the afternoon. Windsor won the meet, seven matches to three.
One of the Windsor members who was victorious against Loveland was John Frye, who several months later won the second annual club championship. T.B. Olson won the inaugural title in October of 1927. A few months later it was reported that 94 people belonged to the club.
Recently a staff member at the Eaton Country Club sent a photo of a trophy to RainDance National head golf professional Chris Williamson that’s engraved “Presented by The Windsor Golf Club. Northern Colorado Championships” with Rex Eaton winning the trophy in 1928-30.
Further research indicated that the Windsor Golf Club invited the champion and runner-up at clubs in Eaton, Boulder, Loveland, Longmont, Fort Collins, and Greeley to participate in the Northern Colorado Championships. Golf clubs in Sterling, Fort Morgan, Brush, and Estes Park were also invited, but declined to participate.
In the Oct. 4, 1928, edition of the Windsor Leader, it was reported that Rex Eaton won the inaugural championships with a 36-hole score of 135 (9-under par). Charley Gunning of Longmont finished second with a medal of 149 (5 over par) and 14 strokes back of Eaton. “Windsor’s representatives made an excellent showing and are to be congratulated,” the article continued. “Bert Walker (79-71 – 150) finished in a tie for third and Tillman Olson (80-78 – 158) finished in seventh place. Both of these men shot good golf and their club-mates are well satisfied with the showing they made.
“The ladies of the St. Alban’s Guild served luncheon with the Windsor Golf Club as hosts at noon at the home of Mrs. T.B. Gormly. The day’s events were closed by a short presentation ceremony in which the president of the club, Attorney I.M. Cunningham, presented the trophy to Mr. Eaton.”
Morey was able to assist in locating the exact location of the old Windsor Golf Course when the author visited Morey’s Glass in August of this year with a map.
“It was by the dump south of town,” he said pointing at a map. “There was a road (Colo. 257) that extended through to the dump and the golf course.”
Tom didn’t have much more information to share about the Windsor Golf Course considering he was a young adult when it ceased operations, but he remembers that former Windsor High School principal William McCall, among others, maintained the grounds.
“There was a dugout building where you went to give your donation,” he remembers. “There was a bridge on the road to get to the course. I think the posts from the bridge are still there.”
In a 1977 edition of the Windsor Beacon, resident Herold Hettinger traversed the property with a reporter and said, “the grounds were kept in perfect condition and crews didn’t even have to water the grass which was kept soft and green from the rain.” He remembered hauling sand from the Poudre River for the greens. They would sprinkle the sand with crank case oil, run a board with nails (spike drags) through it to mix the sand and oil, then pack it with a large metal roller. He also remembered the delicious chokecherries that used to grow in the gullies on the course.
For most of its existence, the golf course was maintained and operated by the Windsor Golf Club membership. In early 1946, as reported in the Windsor Beacon, “upon agreement of members of the Windsor Golf Club, the American Legion will provide the working organization to maintain and operate the local golf course as a community recreation for Windsor. The organization will be known as the Windsor Legion Golf Club. As was stated by some of the charter members of the golf club, ‘We’ve worked hard to maintain the course during the war so that it would be available for the young men and women when they returned, now we are tired. We want the young blood of the town to lend their enthusiasm to carry on.’”
The agreement only lasted a few years as it was reported in February of 1948 “the Legion post decided not to maintain the Windsor golf course this year but to turn it back to the Windsor Golf Club for action by interested members.”
Extensive research to discover the year the Windsor Golf Club ceased operations came up short. Harold Stoll was announced in the April 16, 1959, edition of the Windsor Beacon newspaper as the club’s president and annual dues were set at $10 with green fees of 50 cents on weekdays and $1 on Sundays and holidays. However, the exact year when the course closed is not known. In the 1977 story, it was reported that property owners, the Adcocks, sold the land to Robert Knox of Fort Collins in 1961. They closed it to golf and grazed sheep on the land. It’s safe to say the Windsor Golf Course was in operation from 1927 to at least 1959, maybe even in 1961.
Windsor golf enthusiasts had to wait until 1999 when Pelican Lakes Resort & Golf opened to play the sport within the town’s limits.
While Pelican Lakes is not the first golf course in Windsor, it is the town's first 18-hole golf course.