By Steve Long, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arsenal is known for its military history.
But it was also the Quad Cities launching pad for a now popular sport.
That story in this week's edition of "Rock Island Arsenal: Inside the Gates".
In the late 1800's, golf was not on the Quad Cities recreational radar.
Its roots here were first planted on Arsenal Island.
"There was no golf in the Quad Cities when this golf course was built," said Todd Fowler, Course Pro and Manager at Arsenal Island Golf Course
It all began 115 years ago with 5 holes, and some powerful people who wanted to play.
Fowler says, "Take yourself back to 1897, golf was somewhat prevalent in Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, not so much in the United States."
Captain Stanhope Blunt, the Commanding Officer at the time, heard about the game from a Lieutenant who played it when he lived on the East Coast. They wanted a course here, something the Army was not going to pay for.
The Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club as it was originally called was funded not by the government but funded privately by some of the big names in the Quad Cities.
"The Deere family, the Putnam family, the Velie family," Fowler says
A private country club built on Army property.
"By 1899 we had laid out 9 holes and by 1902 we have 18 holes," says PGA Professional, Todd Fowler.
A letter from 1905 signed by William Taft, leases the land to the club, and lets the private investors build a clubhouse.
A building that with some additions is still used today and has some history of its own.
For example, during Prohibition in the 1920's.
"The upstairs grill had some lockers in it, small lockers in it where the members could put their liquor bottles, they would supply a bartender who would have the mixers, sodas, juices and waters," says Fowler.
Downstairs: a secret button on the banister to warn members if trouble was on the way.
"A buzzer would go off in that grill and allow the members to put their liquor back in their lockers and no one would see it or know the better," Fowler says.
A lot has changed since then.
The course is no longer just for the wealthy.
Fowler tells us, "In our business model we've gone from one extreme, being private, to the other extreme being completely public."
They're now open to anyone who wants to golf, just like Captain Blunt did over a century ago.
Another interesting tidbit, the course is built partially on the site of the island's old Civil War Confederate P.O.W Camp.
Before the Arsenal, there was Fort Armstrong, which is really where the Quad Cities began. We'll have that story next week.