DESOTO COUNTY'S HOME OF GOLF:
ARCADIA MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE:

Story by: Mike May
 
The City of Arcadia is probably most well known for being the home of the Arcadia Rodeo, which made its debut in 1929.  But, believe it or not, the game of golf has been played in Arcadia longer than cowboys have been riding those bronco-busting bulls.
 
As far back as 1917, golfers in Arcadia, led by local civic leader A.C. Polk, were pushing for the construction of a nine-hole golf course.  The golf course was to serve two purposes for the community:  provide a place for local golfers to play the game and help increase tourism.  By 1917, a deal had been struck to build a nine-hole golf course.  It was going to be built on land donated by Albert W. Gilchrist, Florida's 20th governor.  A name had also been selected for this soon-to-be-built golf course -- the Arcadia Golf and Auto Club.  One major issue delayed construction on the golf course -- the United States' entry into World War I.  In 1919, soon after the end of WWI, local lobbying efforts for the construction of the golf course started anew.  In the fall of 1922, ground was officially broken to build this golf course.  On Christmas Day of 1922, a few of holes were ready for play.  At some point in 1923, all nine holes were complete.  Six years later, the rodeo came to town.  To this day, the rodeo and golf co-exist in Arcadia. 
 
To honor the perseverance of golf purists in Arcadia, it's very appropriate that this golf course is now one of the 53 golf courses on the Florida Historic Golf Trail.
 
Fast forward almost 80 years.  In 2001, nine more holes were added and the configuration of the original nine holes was changed to accommodate the additional nine holes.  Today, it is called the Arcadia Municipal Golf Course (1769 Livingston Street, Arcadia, Florida), featuring 18 holes and four sets of tees.  Right now, the course, at its longest, measures 5,900 yards, but that may change according to the new director of golf Jeff Gibson.
 
"We have some room to lengthen some of the holes with new tee boxes," said Gibson.
 
The course opens up with three par fives among the first six holes, with each par five measuring less than 500 yards from the tips.  On the golf course, the longest par five is the 499-yard fifth, the shortest par four is the 288-yard first, and the five par threes range from 142 yards to 212 yards.  The five par threes are the real deal.  And, frankly, every hole at Arcadia has character and charisma.
 
At the moment, the condition of the course is being analyzed and improvements will soon be implemented.
 
"We need to improve our greens and tee boxes," said Gibson.  "Within a year, we'll have a nice neighborhood golf course.  The City of Arcadia has made a financial commitment to getting the course back to where it needs to be.  We must create growing conditions in order to succeed and we will."
 
In addition to improving the life of the turf, Gibson has plans to improve the overall golf experience at his club.
 
"We also have room to improve our driving range, make it lighted, and build an excellent practice facility where you can practice 80 and 90 yard wedge shots," added Gibson.  "We want our course to be a better amenity to this community."
 
Today, the Arcadia Municipal Golf Course is open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. 
 
If you are not accurate off the tee, the Arcadia Municipal Golf Course can be as tough as the local rodeo.  The bogeys can be as painful, brutal and butt-busting as those 'bad-boy' bulls that emerge from the bullpen.
 
Call the pro shop -- 863-494-4223 -- to make your reservations for golf in Arcadia, but not the rodeo.