Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Boulder City History
by Dennis McBride

When Merle Pfost, Boulder City’s first golf pro, shot himself to death in 1933, it didn’t make the future for golf courses here look very promising.

Merle’s professional golfing ambitions were thwarted by the Depression and in 1932 he came to Boulder City to work on Hoover Dam. In January 1933 Boulder City golfers formed the Black Canyon Country Club and opened a nine-hole course south of Masonic Hill. The “greens” were oiled sand, and golfers teed off from boxes made of rock and concrete filled with packed sand. Hoping to pick up his stalled golfing career, Pfost opened a driving range near where the Von’s shopping center stands today, and soon became well known on the links in both Boulder City and Las Vegas. But on March 30, 1933, Pfost walked out onto his range and shot himself.

No one knows why Pfost killed himself, but that shot sent an echo down the years bringing controversy to every golf course project Boulder City has undertaken.

In the late 1940s the Black Canyon Country Club leased 206 acres of land south of what is now Adams Boulevard promising to build a legitimate golf course. But every deal the club pursued failed. Just after Boulder City incorporated in 1960, the country club bought its land—and for the next ten years tried unsuccessfully to interest both the city and private developers to work with them. These failed efforts divided the membership and the community, until the club sold its acreage to a homebuilder in 1971. When Boulder City opened a municipal course in 1973, voters repeatedly torpedoed plans to expand it, to build homes, and to erect what was considered an extravagant $150,000 club house—all of which eventually happened anyway.

Golf course projects in later years have proven even more contentious. When the city council approved a lease with MGM for a private golf course in 1998, the controversy tore the city apart. The erstwhile Red Ridge project approved in the same year is still lost in space, and the Boulder Creek controversy led to a recall election in 2004. People give lots of reasons why golf courses cause so much trouble in Boulder City—water and growth issues, suspicious council decisions, wasting taxpayers’ money. But it’s none of that. What really plagues our golf courses is the Curse of Merle Pfost—Boulder City’s original Bogey Man.

Sponsored by the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum

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