The 13th green at Drugan’s Castle Mound CC looks out at a bucolic
landscape accented by bluffs. Below, the clubhouse at La Crosse CC.
COURTESY OF LA CROSSE CC
Arcadia and Whitehall offer woodsy nine-hole layouts. Arcadia CC is located right in
town and features a course that grows
hillier as the nine unfolds. Whitehall GC is a
municipal course – which, like Arcadia CC,
dates to the 1920s – with an old-fashioned
woodsy clubhouse featuring a dining room
adorned with historic photos and golf
son and opened for play in 1987.
River Run GC in Sparta, formerly known
as Sparta Municipal GC, was purchased by
the city in 1947 for the princely sum of $592
– the remaining debt owned on a golf
course tractor. The course was expanded to
18 holes in 1982 on pine-forested land that
was formerly the site of the Wisconsin State
Child Center. (See sidebar.)
Finally, the La Crosse area offers two fine
private clubs. La Crosse CC moved to its
current facility in Onalaska, offering an
Arthur Hills-designed course, in 1994.
The Trempealeau County communities of
The Golf Club at Cedar Creek, also
located in Onalaska, was formed in 1990.
The highly respected and hilly Bob
Lohmann-designed golf course is open to
non-member group outings Mondays and
Wednesdays during the golf season, but
otherwise is for members only. ;;
WISCONSIN GOLFER l SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011
Sparta’s one-of-a-kind links
any small towns are rightfully
proud of their municipal golf
courses. Residents often like to point out
what makes their town’s golf facility spe-
cial – anything from an old stone club-
house to a dastardly difficult green.
The folks in the Monroe County community of Sparta have a bustling hometown golf course of which they are
rightfully proud, called River Run GC, and
it lays claim to a feature few others can.
River Run has an old children’s cemetery
on its back nine.
The golf course, which was built prior to
1920 and for decades was called Sparta
GC, was a privately owned nine-hole
course when the city of Sparta bought it
in 1947. In 1976, the city spent $650,000
to purchase the land and remaining buildings left over from the Wisconsin Child
Care Center, a home for disabled, neglected and abandoned children. The center occupied a site adjacent to the Sparta
golf course from 1885 to 1976.
River Run’s second nine was built in
1982 on land that had been used to grow
food for the children residents. Importantly, the construction project didn’t disturb the old cemetery.
Today, the cemetery is a short walk
from the River Run clubhouse. Nongolfers may visit the cemetery but are
asked to check in at the golf shop first.
Many of the 305 children buried there
died of influenza, polio or other diseases
while waiting to be placed into foster
homes or adoptive families. Their remains
went unclaimed after their deaths.
In keeping with the practices of the
time, the gravestones display only numbers. But a research effort conducted by
local school children a few years ago
identified all the cemetery’s residents,
and their names are now displayed on a
stone monument with the corresponding
numbers from the gravestones.