It's Tee Time

Running a golf course is certainly not a one-man show.

There's a lot to do, you know.

It takes at least two.

"We only have two full-time people, myself and the superintendent (Brett Randall)," said Steve Nolawski, general manager and head professional at Rolling Hills Country Club in Versailles. "He spends his time taking care of the course, and I do most everything else.

"There's always something to get done."

Need a golf lesson? See Steve.

Wedding party or a banquet? See Steve.

Something to eat? See Steve.

"I probably fry a lot more burgers and cook a lot more pork steaks than I do give golf lessons," Nolawski said.

Complaints about the rough? See Brett.

On their website, they say: "Rolling Hills is, simply put, a wonderful small town country club."

Very true.

"It's more of an older-style, park-like setting," Nolawski said. "It's through the farmlands instead of the Ozark hills, so you have the ability to walk the course."

Indeed, you can walk the course, which is certainly the exception for golf courses these days, as carts are basically mandatory everywhere you go.

"We're not cut through homes," Nolawski continued. "It's basically one plot of land and there's a small area between holes where we have the native grasses, so it keeps it from being a public rifle range where you can get hit from another hole.

"It's unique for this area. It's gentle. You don't have to worry about climbing the steep hills."

Rolling Hills is the second oldest course in the Lake area, second only to Eldon Golf Club (1934). It was established in 1955 as a nine-hole course.

"It was originally designed as a links course," Nolawski said. "But over time, we have all these Oak trees and other trees that have grown up, it's kind of taken away from that."

The second nine was added in 1991, and the new nine "is really intermingled with the original nine," Nolawski said.

Nolawski, 47, was hired on Valentine's Day, 2001, after serving as Head Pro at Lake Valley Country Club in Camdenton for five years.

Since he's come on board, Rolling Hills has built a new clubhouse, new driving range, new pool, new cart storage unit and has added another set of tees.

"That's pretty good," Nolawski said, "when you consider the economy of the golf business has been horrible."

The club, which has a membership of about 300, offers at least a dozen types of membership and features some of the best greens at the Lake. The four sets of tees range from 4,868 yards to 6,590.

"When I first got here, I assumed the course was going to be easier," Nolawski said. "As a longer hitter, I was shocked at how hard the course was.

"It takes a little getting used to ... it offers challenges for golfers of all skill levels."

There are a few holes that are more challenging than others.

"Numbers 2, 10 and 16 are great par-4's, very difficult, they're more of your traditional-style par-4's," Nolawski said. "They're long and they're tight, the fairways are very narrow."

Then there's No. 17 --- a 396-yard par 4 that requires a layup of about 220 yards off the tee, which will leave you a second shot to a raised, devilish green that's protected by a lake short and right and out of bounds to the left.

"I think it's a very good golf hole --- you either love it or hate it," Nolawski said. ""Usually the ones who hate it are the ones who try to play it the wrong way.

"But people always remember it."

And about those complaints about the rough ... there are none.

"Your average golfer is going to be able to find his ball, that's a big thing," Nolawski said. "You go to some other golf courses and need two dozen golf balls, because if you hit a shot that's a little sub-par, it's lost."

Don't let Rolling Hills get lost on your list of courses to play.

Good course, good value, good people.

Both of them.