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May 30, 2012
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No 'snooty stuff here'

Kyle Daniell is pretty proud of the atmosphere that surrounds Rifle Creek Golf Course. After all, that's one of the main things that helped move him into his current gig.

"People keep coming here because of the community and the kind of people we have," said the second-year pro and general manager at the golf course. "You just don't run into any of the snooty stuff here."

To be sure, there's no sense of entitlement with the club members and shareholders of the course. Unlike country club atmospheres spurred by club memberships nearing the five-figure mark, Rifle Creek charges a little as $1 per hole depending on the time of day.

That, along with a unique scenery and a back nine course that's one of the most challenging in the state, has brought in new players and helped retain others who have been playing there for decades.

"This definitely keeps my ambition to stay active," said Dwayne Scott, 89, who said he started playing the course when it first opened in the 1950s.

He's not the only one. Daniell said membership and clientele has seen a steady climb in the past year, including an 80-person contingent in junior golf and an increase in golfers who buy annual passes.

There's even a 16-person group that makes a trip from Arkansas to Rifle to play the course each year since 1980. They haven't missed a year.

"Courses like ours can and should survive," Daniell said. "We have a great membership that has built into a great community. With the big country clubs and those high prices, they have certain expectations on how they want to be treated. But everyone here still feels appreciated."

The overall survival of the course seemed to be a primary focus for Daniell when, as a new college graduate out of Boise State, he spent time in the summers at Rifle Creek when he wasn't playing professionally. He jumped at the opportunity to take over as the course's golf pro when it became available, knowing it was a more steady job as opposed to playing tournaments professionally.

But with signs of the recession still hitting Rifle Creek's bottom line hard, Daniell became creative. The course introduced "Dollar Days," where, on Mondays and Wednesdays after 3 p.m., golfers can play any available hole for $1.

It introduced more golfers to the course and, Daniell said, even resulted in some of the new golfers purchasing annual passes.

"This place caters to the average golfer, the weekend warrior," Daniell said.

It also caters to young golfers, who come to the course in bunches.

"I've learned a lot," said 14-year-old Wyatt Carter, who said he's been a part of the junior golf program at Rifle Creek for at least four years. "I've learned a lot about my stance and my grip, but I've also learned to never let myself get down or I won't play as good."

Also playing on a regular basis is 60-year-old Kirk Beattie, a retired wildlife management professor at the University of Wisconsin, who plays as many as 45 holes a day. He calls his vice for golf a "bad disease," but cherishes the relationships he's built with the other regulars at Rifle Creek.

"You get to learn from all of the other golfers out here," Beattie said. "This is my home course."

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The Post Independent Updated May 30, 2012 06:23PM Published May 30, 2012 06:22PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.