By Jeff Murphy, May 27, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – Like a horseshoe, if a muleshoe can bring good luck, there is a great future ahead for golfers who play at Keth Memorial Golf Course, part of the University of Central Missouri’s newly branded Mules National Golf Club.
Led by UCM Athletic Director Jerry Hughes, 15 people who participated in a ribbon cutting at the course’s picturesque 18th hole island green on Friday, May 27, ceremonially held muleshoes upright and then tossed them into the surrounding lake. The gesture, Hughes said, symbolized wishes of good luck to all individuals who play on the golf course, which underwent an extensive one-year, multi-million renovation months prior to the grand opening.
The event provided an opportunity for individuals to see the professional quality golf facilities, along with Traditions Restaurant and the Audrey J. Walton Clubhouse at Pertle Springs, which are all housed under the Mules National Golf Club umbrella.
With support from its Board of Governors, UCM in spring 2015 began a major renovation project at Keth Memorial Golf Course to help replace aging greens that were installed in 1972 and had exceeded their life expectancy. Audrey J. Walton, Versailles, provided a gift through the UCM Alumni Foundation that helped support the course improvements, and it reopened in November 2015.
Featuring an island green and a 650-yard par five, the golf course now provides a difficult, yet fair challenge for golfers of every ability. Each hole offers its own unique layout while maintaining a level of continuity such as four distinct sets of tee boxes per hole, white sand bunkers placed to challenge every shot, zoysia fairways, and USGA-spec bentgrass greens. Golfers also can enjoy a relaxing round with concrete cart paths, quiet electric carts, and food and drinks delivered to any hole by Traditions Restaurant.
With the renovation, UCM also selected Mules National Golf Club as a unifying brand that incorporates all of the operations at the golf course, including the restaurant and clubhouse.
During the afternoon ribbon cutting ceremony, UCM President Charles Ambrose spoke briefly about the history of the golf course, noting the significant role former university coach Earl Keth played in the initial design of the course, and in the education and recruitment of student athletes.
“This is a real labor of love, and it means a lot to us, and to Kirby, Kathy (Moore) and Kaye (Teater),” he said in talking about the historical significance of the golf course and its transformation while the two Keth daughters and son prepared to join in the ribbon cutting.
A former basketball star for the Mules in the 1930s, Keth returned to UCM to coach basketball from 1946-1961, and he also served as Mules’ golf coach from 1961 until the time of his death in 1972. He was the original architect of golf course at Pertle Springs, which was later named in his honor. Keth was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1990 was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame.
Ambrose said the course honors UCM’s history and heritage, while also contributing to the future of the community. He said MNGC will serve as a destination spot that brings people to Warrensburg to enjoy these recreational facilities. Ambrose also recognized the support given to the university and this project by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, which was represented at the ribbon cutting by its president, Casey Lund. He also thanked the university’s Board of Governors and the UCM Alumni Foundation, for their “leap of faith” to make the project possible, and he praised the generosity of Audrey J. Walton.
In his remarks, Hughes noted that as the MNGC project has moved forward the number of members has grown from 70 at the time of planning to more than 170 today.
Individuals who would like more information about the grand opening or Mules National Golf Club should contact MNGC staff at 660-543-4128 or email MulesNational@ucmo.edu.