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Iowa courses converted to crops

Course News

| May 2, 2011

(desmoinesregister.com)

Iowa has one less golf course this spring, thanks to rising prices for land and grain.

The Whittemore Golf Club located just west of Algona, which would have celebrated the 42nd anniversary of its opening this spring, instead is being plowed under by its new owner, Kelly Tilges, who runs a sandblasting business in nearby St. Joseph.

"I hope to put in a crop this year," Tilges said.

Tilges declined to divulge any more information, saying, "I've already gotten a lot of static over this."

Indeed Mick Elbert, whose family operates an automobile dealership in Whittemore and whose father, Ed Elbert, built the nine-hole course in 1969, said: "There are a lot of hard feelings around town about this.

"There are other courses around, but it's something special for a town to have its own course," Elbert said, adding: "I'm a good player, but I may give up the game."

The sale of the course and conversion to farmland isn't surprising, even if it is less-desirable creek bottom land.

A doubling of the price of corn and a 55 percent rise in soybean prices since mid-2010 have caused Iowa farmland prices to rise 25 percent from March 2010 to about $5,700 per acre.

Prices have risen because of 15-year lows in corn and soybean stocks, which in turn has caused farmers in Iowa to convert previously-idled conservation and creek bottom lands for cultivation.

Iowa is expected to plant about 500,000 more acres for corn this year than in 2010.

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