Absent friends, a work project, and a dream to build a golf course as therapy for veterans.
Notes from the May 5, 2021 meeting of
The Rotary Club of Clover Park
recorded by Tom McClellan
Kerri Pedrick led us in the invocation, since Jeannie Hill’s Zoom connection dropped out just at the worst moment.  Thanks Kerri!  Mike Killen led us in the flag salute, and Jim Hairston helped us all to recite the 4-Way Test.
We welcomed our guest speaker Bruce McKenty, of the American Lake Veterans Golf Course.
Sunshine Report
Ed Trobaugh was absent, pursuing unspecified medical care, so we all hope for a good outcome to that.
Future Programs
May 12            Andrew Austin, Sound Transit
May 19            Joyce Oubré, Golf Tournament Details
May 26            Karen Larkin, Master Gardeners Association
President’s Minute
Today we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday which celebrates a victory by a 2,000 strong force of Mexicans organized by President Benito Juárez against a larger and better organized force of 6,000 French troops at the Battle of Puebla.  It is not, as is widely believed, the Mexican independence day, which falls in September.  But it was adopted by a lot of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. as an important event marking Mexican accomplishment.  And Americans have taken it up as an opportunity to celebrate tacos, margaritas, and Mexican cerveza, colloquially known as Drinko de Mayo.
Tom McClellan gave an overview of the May 1 work party at the South Puget South Wildlife Area.  Volunteers from our club plus Lakewood First Lions, Lakewood Kiwanis, Steilacoom Kiwanis, Pierce College, and Lakewood Rotary all worked for the betterment of our adopted “park”.  Lakewood Rotarians installed 2 more benches along the hiking path.  3 large Douglas Fir trees were limbed up, to reduce fire risk and to deny homeless encampment hiding spots.  And a whole lot of weeds were removed from the interpretive area, and Scotch broom plants removed from the trail area and Garry Oak replanting areas.  Here is a picture of Marvy (on the right, and not a typo) from Pierce College Running Start and Renee (left) from Steilacoom High School Key Club, who pulled a whole lot of Scotch broom by themselves.
By the time all of the other pulled Scotch broom was rounded up, that trailer was totally full.  And there is still more Scotch broom yet to be pulled, if you can believe it.  Plus 6 trailer loads of branches from the limbed up trees, and several of Alan Billingsley’s tractor’s buckets full of other detritus.  Alan is tentatively planning another work party for sometime in late July. 
Judi Maier offered the happy news that our club’s onetime exchange student Morgan from Belgium gave birth to a second son, named Sasha.
Fun And Fines
With both Ed Trobaugh and Marie Barth out, the assemblage was left to resort to confessions.  Becky Newton started off by noting that she and her husband went to Sun River, OR for 4 days.
Hallie McCurdy started offering a confession, but your loyal scribe missed it because his insecurity team started barking outside and had to be let in.  I’m sure it was a good one.
Jim Hairston confessed to making his first ever hole-in-one on April 21 at Meadowpark Golf Course’s 13th hole. 
This Week’s Program
Bruce McKenty is the general manager of the American Lake Veterans Golf Course, a position he has held for the past 16 years.  It is all volunteer run, with no paid employees.  230 volunteers do all of the course maintenance, front office operations, and other tasks needed to keep it all working. 
Bruce McKenty is second from the left, next to our own Ed Trobaugh.
The course was started in 1956 when then-director of the VA hospital Joe Tatum determined that having a golf course on some of the hospital’s former farmland would be a useful therapy resource for the patients.  He persuaded the VA to pay $25,000 toward building a 9-hole course.
More on the early history and subsequent development can be explore at https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article81816187.html
In 1995, the VA changed policy and decreed that no government money could go toward golf courses any more.  So volunteers stood up a group to operate and maintain the 9-hole course. 
In 2002, the volunteers added an irrigation system to improve the course, which had fallen into bad condition. 
In 2004, a 501c3 organization was created to fund capital projects.  $9 million has been raised and spent thus far.
In 2016, an additional 9 holes was added, designed by Jack Nicklaus, who donated his design work in lieu of what would have been a normal $1 million fee.  Nicklaus also made redesign recommendations for the front 9, which the organization hopes to undertake this year. 
In 2017, the VA signed a licensing agreement allowing the Friends of the American Lake Veterans Golf Course to take over management, and outside of normal VA supervision. The VA still owns the land, and thus has a big say on how things go, but the organization now has a bit more autonomy. 
They have bought a 1000-gallon fuel tank for their golf cards and mowers.  This was after the VA hospital cut them off from using its tanks.  The parking area was expanded, to handle the amount of traffic for an 18-hole course.
Bruce is trying to finally get permission from the VA honchos to start the renovation of the front 9.  He is expecting that approval next week, and it will be a $2.3 million project.  They will replace the entire irrigation system, which is failing.  All of the new sprinklers will be computer controlled.  The work will upgrade all of the greens to USGA standards, and make sure that they are all ADA compatible.  
Already they have removed 300 trees, which has brought in more sunlight and airflow. 
Greens fees and range ball fees cover the operating costs.  Capital improvement costs come from donations and fundraising tournaments.  Golf Digest in 2015 named it the #1 Most Cheerful Course in America.  
And Finally…
You have probably heard of Schroedinger’s Cat, which is a physics analogy first formulated by physicist Erwini Schroedinger about quantum superposition.  The cat is in a box, and can be described as being simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of its fate being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.  [Please note: no actual cats were harmed in the formulation of this analogy.]
At last, we have finally found Schroedinger’s Dumpster.