The nine-hole course in Mattoon, Ill. will close after 45 years under the same ownership and is now listed for sale. The December 31st closing also means the end of the course’s popular “Frozen Open” on New Year’s Day, which in some years drew as many as 200 participants.
A decline in players has led to the decision to close the Rogala Public Links golf course in Mattoon, Ill. after 45 years under the same ownership, the Mattoon Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
The last day the course will be open is December 31, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported, meaning no return of the course’s annual Frozen Open, a New Year’s Day tradition that had golfers out on the course in practically all kinds of weather.
A “for sale” sign went up on October 23rd outside the entrance to the golf course on Illinois Route 16 just west of Mattoon, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
Donna Meaker, who bought the course along with her late husband Charles in 1974, said there’s been a decrease in the number of players at the course for the last few years, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
“Golf has not been as large the last several years,” she said. “We felt we hung on as long as we could.”
Rogala tried some offers, such as reduced membership fees, to try to bring in more players, and those “drew some, but not enough,” Meaker said.
Joe Meaker, Donna Meaker’s son and Rogala’s co-owner, said he thinks interest in other activities led people away from golf, especially youngsters, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
“Mother Nature has been a big issue as well,” he added. “This year there have been a lot of lost weekends.”
Meaker said her family hopes that someone will buy the course, but there are no plans yet for what to do with the facility and its equipment, along with items for sale in the clubhouse, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
A golf course opened at the location in 1971, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported, but it was closed when Meaker and her husband bought it, she said.
Features of the nine-hole course included unlimited play for one fee, with no extra charge after nine holes except for cart use, Donna Meaker told the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier. That was the way the course operated since the beginning, she said.
The Frozen Open, Meaker said, came about because her husband was familiar with other golf courses offering play on New Year’s Day and “thought it would be a neat thing to do.” The event drew as many as 200 golfers some years, she said.
The course also hosted the Rogala Open two-day tournament, with separate play for kids at no charge. The course’s last day of league play took place this week, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported.
A “Customer Appreciation Day” was scheduled to take place at the course on October 26th, the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier reported, with food served and a chance for people to “visit and maybe talk about old times,” Donna Meaker said.
Visitors can “play golf if they want” and the event will be inside the course’s clubhouse in case of rain, she said.
Meaker told the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier that she’s now at retirement age, while Joe Meaker and his wife and course co-owner Rachel will find other jobs.
The Meakers said they feel like their regular customers are “family,” and Joe Meaker said they’ll miss serving them. “One of the biggest things I will miss is seeing the people,” he said.
Former Mattoon resident Cody Pierce, who now resides in Jacksonville, N.C., told the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier that he and his high-school classmate, Tyler Poland, used to regularly play golf at Rogala after school on sunny days.
After moving away, Pierce said he started a tradition of meeting Poland for golf at Rogala whenever he was back in Mattoon for a summer visit. Pierce said he always appreciated the simplicity of the course and that they could get in and out quickly for a round of golf.
“It’s going to be sad to see it go,” Pierce said.