A Brief Glimpse of the History of Valley View Golf Club
as Seen Through the Eyes of Jeanne Roby
By Nina Sims
Close to the end of World War II, Jeanne Roby met and married a US serviceman in Cambridge, England. It was 1944 and she was 21 years old. When the war ended, she and her husband, Harold, moved to their new home in Bozeman and joined Valley View Golf Club. But was a far different golf club than it is today.
The Club, which was already established when Jeanne arrived on the scene, was located on the property which today is euphemistically known as “Nob Hill”. The boundaries were South Church, Kagy (which at that time was nothing more than a dirt lane), and Highland Boulevard.
The first hole started at the bottom of the hill on Church, and the golfer reached the green by hitting uphill all the way to a dog leg to the left built into the side of the hill. The second hole was at the extreme top of the hill. There were no powered carts in those days; indeed, there were no pull carts. So golfers carried their clubs, and occasionally their infants in a carryall, to navigate the course. Jeanne remembers carrying a 2, 3, and 4 wood, a 5, 6, and 7 iron, a mashie and a putter in a canvas bag. Eventually pull carts came into being which made golfing much easier.
Caring for the green was no problem. They were made of sand. Before putting a scrapper was dragged between the ball and the hole so putting could take place on a smooth surface. The members would periodically oil the green to enhance the putting surface.
The log clubhouse was located on South Church. It had a deck, which wrapped all the way around and when dances were held, the members would dance around the clubhouse on the deck. Some years later this structure was sold, converted into a home, and is still in existence.
The membership, composed of less than 60 people, was a young group. Many of the men had returned from World War II and were embarking on new careers or attending MSU on the GI Bill. The Golf Club was the focal point for much of their social life. There were parties, Sunday breakfasts prepared by members, dances, bridge games, and a women’s golf group, which played on Tuesdays, just like today.
The dues were very reasonable, around $15 annually. Revenue was derived from dues and slot machines in the clubhouse and members did much of the work that needed to be done.
When the decision was made to move the club to its present location, the members were ambivalent. The close knit group knew they were going to miss the camaraderie and good times they had at the old location. But they looked forward to the new and better course and clubhouse.
In the mid-sixties visionaries in the golf club saw the advantage of moving from Kagy and Church to the present location on Kagy. In order to finance the move, the land on which the old course was located was traded to Gene Graf for bottomland on Kagy plus options on other parcels.
In the beginning it was a nine-hole course with a driving range on Kagy to the right of the present Club House. At first the clubhouse was a trailer but, anxious to have their own club house, the members decided to build one. The members donated the majority of the labor and many of the fixtures were contributed also. The men did most of the building on Saturday and the wives took dinner to them so they could get as much finished as possible. All the members did a variety of things to raise money for equipment and for appliances.
In the meantime the course was taking shape. About that time the City decided to make Kagy a proper street and much of the dirt and gravel removed to form the ponds and lakes are part of the roadbed of Kagy.
At that time, like today, Bozeman was experiencing a drought and the biggest problem was getting the greens to grow. Harold Roby, along with others, hand watered the greens. Finally members from MSU used their agricultural expertise to reseed the greens. This resulted in grass but also in weeds, which had been mixed in with the hay used as cover to keep the seed moist. This meant that members met to hand weed the greens and, not incidentally, an excuse for another pot luck party.
Another problem was rocks. There were rock sessions, but no music was involved. Members, including children would go down the fairways and pick up rocks. The success of their labor is apparent today as one plays down the fairways.
All of these things served to pull the already close-knit group tighter and, although it was hard work, it was great fun. The members resumed their Sunday morning breakfasts, dances, dinners, and bridge parties. Their social life again revolved around the club and, since the club didn’t have a liquor license, members brought their own bottles. After several surprise visits, the inspector finally warned the members they would have to have a liquor license or suffer the consequences. Fortunately, through the intervention of a friend of the club who “happened” to be on the Liquor Board, an open liquor license was granted to the Valley View Golf Club.
For ten years it was a nine-hole course, however, realizing there would have to be 18 holes in order to be a viable golf course, plans were made. Ultimately it took several years and lots of work to reach that goal. The driving range was sold and the money used to help finance the construction of the additional nine holes. Again the members donated their time and labor to reach this goal. Dana Schrupp planted the willow trees to the right of the driving and left of Hole #10. The trees, which were veritable sticks when he planted them, are now tall willows. And, once again, the membership turned their attention to raising money.
At that time a high level conference of Naval personnel and others, including such notables as Wernher von Braun, was scheduled to be held in Bozeman. Betty Babcock, then the Governor’s wife, asked Jeanne to chair a social committee which would entertain the wives. Naturally, one of the activities Jeanne arranged was a cocktail party at Valley Golf Club for the men and their wives. Jeanne remembers seeing the hat rack, which looked, like a sea of gold braid. Ray and Kay Campeau set up several bars around the 9th hole and, together with the women of Valley View, served drinks and hors doeuvers, which the women had made. Mrs. Von Braun requested a cup of hot tea and there was a bit of a scurry as someone made a run to the store to purchase tea. The party was a success and Valley View had more money for their expansion program.
Today Valley View is a beautiful and challenging course with a nice clubhouse and all the amenities. But ask Bill and Lou Ogle or Dana and June Schrupp about the old days. Like Jeanne, they will probably tell you that nothing can replace the grand times and camaraderie they had when they were young and full of life. The times when, like mountain goats, they used to trudge up and down the old Valley View Golf Course, all for the love of golf.