Golf board member Winland reports successful 2023

David Peck

The Foster Gulch Golf Course is enjoying good times and has some big plans in the works, board president Tim Winland reported to the Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce membership at the January 15 luncheon.
Winland began with an overview and history of the course, calling Foster Gulch ”40 unspoiled acres with Foster Gulch Creek winding through the course,” adding, “Foster Gulch is a nine-hole course with the course length from the men’s tee boxes ranging from 2,758 to 2,940 yards and the length from the women’s tees ranging from 2,307 to 2,460 yards. The course features a clubhouse, driving range and practice green.
“Foster Gulch Golf Course is a realization of a long-time desire by a group of local farmers to develop a golf course located in Lovell. These farmers donated their land, time and equipment to realize their dream and the first five holes were ready to play in 1984.  To this day, the course is very fortunate to have many volunteers in the clubhouse, on the grounds and organizing tournaments.
“Our goal is to have the best affordable nine-hole golf course in the state of Wyoming. We want Foster Gulch to be a destination for people to come and play.”
2023 in review
Winland said Foster Gulch had more than 1,500 visitations/sign-ins from mid-April to mid-October, which doesn’t include playing the winter greens. The course has 129 members and employed 16 people during the summer. Current board members are Winland, vice president Eric Honeyman, secretary/treasurer Christy Ellis, Bruce Morrison, Bruce Wolsey, Steve Coleman, Russell Wilkerson, Chelsey Kinser, Pete Baxendale, Jed Nebel, with Teri Winland as the new clubhouse manager and Klete Kinser as grounds supervisor.
The course hosted eight tournaments in 2023 -- two private and six public. Foster Gulch also hosted a high school golf tournament and two cross country meets.
As for improvements, the course purchased 12 new golf carts, three outright and nine by lease, arriving the first part of July. There are now 17 available for rent. Brandon Jolley was hired as the new golf cart mechanic, replacing Jay Vandenboom.
Foster Gulch sold liquor for the first time in 2023, and it was “very successful,” he noted, adding that the revenue helped pay for a new ice machine, new coolers, revamping the restrooms and drink carts for tournaments. Alcohol sales were essentially a wash in the first year due to the purchases but should be making money this summer.
Course improvements include adding to the number four green, which has suffered from winter kill; moving the road above the cottonwood tree on number six to help improve drainage, also adding more playable area to the west of the green.
Other improvements Winland spoke of include:
• Constantly fixing sprinklers, pipes and drains, which Winland said is very labor intensive, noting that 40 acres of pipe requires a lot of attention and is important.
“If you don’t have water on a course, you don’t have a course,” he added.
• Purchasing of new covers for greens and tee boxes to protect them from extreme cold – a cost of $14,000.
• Purchasing a “new-to-us” rough mower from a golf course in Billings. When the Billings course purchased a new mower, which showed up in late summer, Foster Gulch had the opportunity to buy a quality used mower, which would have cost $60,000 brand new.
• Removing dead trees, brush and dead limbs, improving the course’s appearance.
• Starting a lady’s night every other week. “We’ve been asked to have it every week in 2024,” he added.
Improvements for 2024
Winland said the clubhouse has been given a facelift, with new carpet and countertops and newly painted cabinets. There are also plans to remove willows by the hole number one bridge that are starting to overgrow and replace the decking on the main bridge between holes three and four.
Other planned improvements include:
• Cleaning out the pond on hole six, restoring it back to its original pond with a water feature instead of cattails.
• Fixing a swampy area in front of the green on hole number one with the help of the Shoshone Water Conservation District, which will help with the installation of a drain.
• Replacing the main valves on holes six and seven.
• Hydroseeding rough areas in front of hole seven and the bunker on hole eight, plus hydroseeding the bend on hole eight just past the front tees.
• Continuing to maintain the watering system, which Winland said is vital to the success of the entire operation.
• Continuing to host and support tournaments, Winland said, adding that the course would like to add a co-ed tournament.
• Purchasing four new sets of rental clubs, working with Mitchell Golf of Billings.
• Offering golf lessons.
Winland said there is a “little bit of talk” about building a new clubhouse at the course and putting in an automated watering system. He said the board is beginning to explore fundraising methods and strategies.
Winland said he would like to thank all of the course workers including head groundskeeper Kinser, volunteers, board members, the Town of Lovell, course members and the golfers, plus outgoing clubhouse manager Melissa King.
“We get great support for the course from the town each and every year, and that helps us keep the fees down,” Winland said. “Without the help of the town and volunteers, the course would not exist.”
Foster Gulch has always strived to keep costs down for golfers, Winland said, noting that the board last raised rates two years ago. He listed the various fees and said the course is thinking of holding a golf camp through the Lovell Recreation District.
“We’re really excited. We had a great season,” Winland said. “Going through the guest book, we saw we had a lot of Billings people coming down. People can buy a punch card for 20 different courses.”
Chamber manager Linda Morrison gave a “shout out” to the board, volunteers and staff members, thanking them for their hard work. She said the course should be a destination for golfers.