Golf for the People, By the People

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

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Amidst the vast expanses and endless rolling hills of Wyoming’s Black Hills, the town of Upton is a haven for year-round outdoor recreation. When the snow melts and the land greens, local folks turn to that outdoor pursuit so often associated with Wyoming…golf!

That’s right; golf enthusiasts favor Upton for its Cedar Pines Country Club. The volunteer-run golf course fits with the community’s can-do attitude, where volunteers improve, maintain and manage virtually all aspects of community development, like the city park, city pool and the Upton Municipal Airport.

“Back when we started the golf course, we put buckets on the golf carts, so people could pick up rocks as they drove the course,” said Carmen Diehl, a longtime Upton resident and entrepreneur. “Cedar Pines is a labor of love by the community.”

Slice of green heaven

Cedar Pines is a municipal nine-hole golf course, playing at just under 3,000 yards from the longest tees for a par of 36, with a driving range and putting green. The clubhouse facility includes a restaurant and full bar, which is available for special events. It’s the site of the Joe Haynes Memorial Golf Tournament in July’s Upton Fun Days and Upton High School holds several tournaments there each season. 

“The course has a great layout to play and is never very crowded, so it is perfect for experienced players as well as beginners and families,” said Diehl.

Labor of love

Upton is a very active community, said Diehl, where residents value the fact the town is off the beaten path and know if they want something, they can make it happen. That was the case in the late 1970s when the community responded to a group interested in building a golf course. The city council donated the land. Local businessmen like Tom McMillan, who owned an oilfield company, donated the bulk of equipment and labor for tasks like digging the ditches for the watering system, sourced from a local reservoir originally created to serve steam locomotives. Volunteers dug the well to serve the clubhouse, which was also donated and moved from its original location.

The entire process took about three years before opening in 1984. Approximately a dozen individuals were granted lifetime memberships for their efforts. Today, the Upton Golf Association is a community volunteer board that runs and operates the course. It charges minor fees and family memberships to help pay for the maintenance. Current efforts include preparing for a new pumphouse and sprinkler system. 

Valuable part of the community

The hard work and dedication have made the golf course a valued community gem. Younger generations have a lot of interest of late, said Diehl. The Upton High School program started in 2007 and hosts several yearly tournaments. Its Girl’s Golf Team won back-to-back state championships in 2021 and 2022.

The volunteer efforts at the golf course fit with other outdoor recreation pursuits at which volunteers make possible, like the Upton Gun Club and Inyan Kara Enduro Race.

“The people of Upton dedicate themselves to make sure it's a great community to be part of and golf has been a part of that tradition,” said Diehl.

The Upton Economic Development Board is proud to serve such a fantastic community and consistently seeks to help businesses make the connections necessary for success. Please contact us today to access our wealth of information and resources to help your business be part of the Upton community.

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