The relationship between the words “grassroots” and “golf course” might seem like the makings of a silly pun, but in Ennis it’s local volunteer effort that keep Madison Meadows Golf Course going.
Just last week, volunteers were out on the local golf course helping put sod on new tee boxes on holes 8 and 6.
The new tee boxes are part of a five-year capital improvements plan at the golf course, said Tom Leeming, president of the Madison County Golf Association.
Other projects in the plan have been gravelling the golf cart paths, improving irrigation infrastructure and working on implementing aspects of the original course design, Leeming said.
And much of the work has been and will continue to be done by volunteer help, said Professional Golf Association professional and Madison Meadows manager Patrick Stoltz.
“Golf courses like Madison Meadows are totally based on community support,” Stoltz said. “When people come out here and enjoy (the course) and see what you’re doing, they want to help.”
Madison Meadows Golf Course opened in 1982 and was built on land donated to Madison County by the Rice and Leadbeater families, Leeming said.
The nine-hole course features a wide variety of holes, including the par 5 sixth, which at one point was ranked the toughest par 5 in the state, he said.
However, making ends meet at the course hasn’t always been easy, Leeming said. About five years ago, the MCGA had to make some budget cuts to get the course back in the black. The group also set up a way for people to make donations to the golf course. Both efforts have had a positive result.
The course is now operating at a profit and the needed improvements are getting completed, he said.
“All these improvements have been completely by donations and volunteers,” Leeming said.
Having Stoltz on board has helped tremendously, he said.
“I’ve got the only PGA golf pro in America who has his own excavation equipment,” Leeming said.
Last week, while volunteers laid sod, Stoltz was busy with his own Bobcat excavator and truck and trailer moving pallets of sod.
And the efforts and improving the course have helped bring in more golfers, he said.
“In the last two years we’ve actually seen an increase in public play in green fees,” Leeming said.
Stoltz’s work on course improvements last week was fit in around his annual golf academy.
This year 33 kids ages 5 to 15 came to Madison Meadows to take lesson from Stoltz and his staff. On Friday, the youngest golfers even participated in a small putting and chipping tournament. Stoltz has been running the annual golf academy for 26 years and enjoys seeing youngsters get into the sport.