MEEKER | In a truly amazing development, Bill Maltby, the new Meeker Golf Course manager, is bringing his years of successful business experience to this challenging, not to mention time-devouring, job—and he is doing it as a volunteer, taking no salary.
Graduating from high school on the southside of Chicago, followed by college in Madison, Wisconsin, and law school at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), his career path took a very different direction that would last for decades.
Soon after starting law school, he wanted to buy a motorcycle because that parking lot was right outside the door of the school, while the car lot was three blocks away. He soon found out that while there were two dealers in town, there was no dedicated motorcycle shop—so he opened one in 1965. Even with a law degree in hand, he never practiced, keeping the shop instead, finally selling it in 2005.
During those years, Maltby also started a ski shop, and most of his rental customers headed to Colorado. Now curious, this led to his coming to Colorado as a visiting skier, which in turn led to his relocation in 1970, first to Aspen briefly and then Glenwood Springs. He once again opened a motorcycle shop in 1971 and bought out another one in 1975.
Discovering Meeker Golf Course in 2015, Maltby and some friends began observing “Meeker Monday” every week. When asked what he loves about this course, he answered, “Lots of stuff. The people first. When we come, it’s just like old home week. The course itself is another great asset. It’s a tremendous piece of property.”
After recounting to him how a visiting couple called our little course “a gem” to one of our members, Maltby agreed. “It is a gem, but it’s also a secret, a hidden gem. But do we just keep it for us or do we want to bring more people in?”
“One of the biggest attractions for me is hole number 1, which I consider the finest hole in western Colorado,” he said. “This course has everything. You’ve got elevation, hazards, right and left problem. It’s absolutely beautiful.”
It is that very idea that has become Maltby’s vision for the course, to do whatever he and others can to make this course more secure financially. This is one reason he is doing all this on a volunteer basis. His involvement with the Elks Lodge in Glenwood for many years helped to instill in him a strong spirit of volunteerism. This is reflected in the volunteer work he did for the nine-hole course in Glenwood, which had several of the same difficulties the Meeker course has.
Another obvious reason for Maltby’s presence here is his successful business background. “When I got elected to the board, we began discussing what was happening. I started looking at the financials, and it was disaster. I wanted to do what I could to save the Meeker Golf Course.”
His goal is much the same as it was in Glenwood. “We were in the exact same position in 2015. We were losing $130,000 a year. In one year, with new management, new board president, new board members, we went from minus $130,000 to plus $100,000. I was there when it happened, and I know how to do that. Yes, we are on a smaller scale than Glenwood—we do about 20 percent of what they do—but we have no debt, a huge plus.”
Getting more players to boost cash flow is an obvious goal, but the now open bar and restaurant will also be a major contribution. It appeals not only to golfers but non-golfers as simply another local eatery, which just so happens to have a beautiful view.
Another unique possibility—which is being discussed with the Rec District—is disc golf. “The Rec District has offered to buy all the equipment and promote it, and the golf course would charge for course access and golf carts. I’ve played on courses that also have disc golf, and there is even a state championship.”
While past management has been superb, with Maltby now at the helm—in addition to the financial aid that has come from the Rec District—it is hoped that Meeker’s “hidden gem” will be discovered by new patrons and perhaps even re-discovered by locals.
By DOC WATSON | Special to the Herald Times