HISTORY OF THUNDER HILLS COUNTRY CLUB

Conceived in 1969, Thunder Hills Country Club was the vision of five individuals who wished to develop and build the second planned golf course community in the State of Iowa. Those five individuals were Gordon Cunningham, Peter Beeves, C.J. May, Jr., Frank Dunn, and Bob Frommelt, who was the first president of Thunder Hills Country Club. This group was instrumental in the purchase of the Burds and Harris farms just east of Peosta, Iowa.

Their vision was to build a residential community of paved streets with homes backing up to an 18-hole championship golf course. The five embarked on an aggressive membership program to reach 300 members as they built and developed the planned golf course community. The club would have an initiation fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and monthly dues of Twenty Dollars ($20.00).

While doing research for names at the public library, Bob Frommelt and Gordon Cunningham heard a crack of thunder and that sparked the idea to name the hilly property Thunder Hills. Thus Thunder Hills Homeowners Association and Thunder Hills Country Club came into existence.

In 1971 Thunder Hills Country Club opened the front nine featuring watered tees and greens and the new Clubhouse. The swimming pool and back nine holes opened for play in 1972. The three tennis courts opened in 1973.

In August 2002 the Board formed a Facility Study Committee to study and make a recommendation for a strategy to improve or replace the existing Clubhouse. The strategy was designed to enhance and grow the membership.

The membership approved the conceptual plan in 2003 and excavation work began in October of that year. On May 22nd, 2004 the new Clubhouse opened.

In 2016-17 the Club embarked on a $1,000,000 renovation project. On the golf course, all bunkers were renovated with new drainage, liners and sand.

Improvements in the pool area included: a new Kiddie Pool with water features, new lights and re-painting of the main pool, re-painting the pool deck, Wi-Fi installation, addition of three shade awnings and replacement of the main pool heater.

The Tennis/Pickleball courts were also completely refurbished with a new surface, fencing and lighting. A basketball hoop was also installed.

In June 2021, a new 4,200 square foot pool and 3,700 square foot cabana opened.

As stated in the Mission Statement: "We are committed to providing an excellent golf facility as our highest priority with continual investment to enhance the value, tradition, and overall quality of the Thunder Hills Country Club experience".

VIDEOS

50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

September 3, 2021 • Unedited • 1:15:24 minutes • With Jim Edwards and Andy DeSollar

Watch the actual Thunder Hills 50th Anniversary celebration. A walk down memory lane and a look at the wonderful history of Thunder Hills Country Club.

BOB FROMMELT INTERVIEW

November 21, 2020 • Edited • 27:44 minutes • With Bob Howard

Thunder Hills original founder Bob Frommelt talks about starting the planned Thunder Hills Country Club complex during its 50th Anniversary (1970-2020) celebration.

JIM EDWARDS INTERVIEW

June 5, 2020 • Edited • 29:26 minutes • With Bob Howard

Thunder Hills charter member Jim Edwards shares stories about the history of Thunder Hills Country Club during its 50th Anniversary (1970-2020) celebration.

LYLE KOPP INTERVIEW

July 22, 2020 • Edited • 18:07 minutes • With Bob Howard and Jim Edwards

Realtor Lyle Kopp talks about finding the land to build Thunder Hills Country Club during its 50th Anniversary (1970-2020) celebration.

DAVID CLEMENS INTERVIEW

July 2, 2020 • Edited • 9:18 minutes • With Bob Howard

Thunder Hills member David Clemens shares stories about the social history of Thunder Hills Country Club during its 50th Anniversary (1970-2020) celebration.

HISTORIC TIMELINE

 
DATE   EVENT
2021   June 2021 - Pool and Cabana renovation completed ($2,120,090)
  Made possible through the generosity of members Mike and Sally Portzen and Portzen Construction

Pool
  New 4,200 square foot state of the art swimming pool
  Expanded deck area, seating and shade areas
  In-water seating pods
  Water aerobics work-out area
  Lap lanes
  Diving board

Cabana
  New 3,700 square foot pool cabana
  Multi-use year round facility
  Full-service bar area with televisions
  Covered seating and dining area
  Kitchen and snack service area
  Lifeguard room and check-in area
  Restrooms, changing rooms and shower facilities

October 2021
  2 new indoor golf simulators
  Ash tree removal

November 2021
  Hole 2 - Add a new bunker to the left side near the 100 yard marker
  Hole 4 - Redo Red tee box
  Hole 6 - Add new Blue and Gold tee boxes
  Hole 7 - Add a new bunker to left side. Add a new Gold tee box.
  Hole 9 - Add new Black and Gold tee boxes
 
2020   October 2020
  Demolition of the pool and cabana
  Ash tree removal
 
2017   $1,000,000 renovation project
  Bunker renovation project
  - Renovated all bunkers with new drainage, liners and sand (Better Billy Bunker system)
$315,000
  New short game practice area
  - 8,500 square foot bent grass chipping and putting greens
  - 800 square foot of bunkers
  New Kiddie Pool
  - Water features, new lights and re-painting
$320,000
  Tennis/Pickleball courts completely refurbished
  - New surface, fencing and lighting
  - New basketball hoop installed
$125,000
  Golf course restrooms
  - Renovated Restrooms on Front 9 / New Restrooms on Back 9
$60,000
 
2004   May 22, 2004 the new Clubhouse opened ($1,8000,000)
 
2003   October 27, 2003 - Excavation work begins on the new Clubhouse
 
2002   New maintenance shed
 
2000   Reconstructed Hole 16th green (contour was too sloped)
 
1995   Reconstructed Hole 17th green (contour was too sloped)
 
1991   Installed watered fairway down the center of Hole 7 fairway as a test
  Hole 7 was chosen as the test hole because it was closest to the road so all members could see the effectiveness of watered fairways
  Installed throughout the entire golf course over the next couple of years ($230,000)
 
1990   New pump station built
  Drilled down 1,100 ft in preparation for watered fairways

Cart storage building built
  Built by member Tom Kluck
 
1980's   Early eighties Clubhouse renovations
  1,500 square foot Clubhouse addition called the Green Room with fireplace and bar
  Addition to the Golf Pro Shop
 
1973   May 1973 - Tennis Courts open
 
1972   May 1972 - Opened the back nine holes on the farm purchased from Bucky Harris
  Board President Jim Edwards hit the first ball for the back nine opening

May 29, 1972 - Pool opened for swimming
  75 foot by 45 foot pool

Hired Jim Elliott as Golf Pro
  Jim's wife Sandra was a big part of the pro shop and earned the nickname "Chief"
 
1971   April 24, 1971 at 1:00 PM - Lottery system was held to purchase lots
  100 lots

July 1971 Opened the front nine holes and clubhouse on the farm land purchased from Red Burds
  Board President Bob Frommelt hit the first ball for the front nine opening
  Golf Pro/Manager: Dale Moore (Fillmore Fairways Golf Course, Cascade, IA)
  Golf Course Superintendent: Monk Massey assisted by Al Spiegel

September 10, 1971 - "Thunder Hills Home Association" was filed as a business entity with the State of Iowa

Fall 1971 the pool is completed

Continued to finish the maintenance building, plant trees and finish the clubhouse exterior
  Members would paint or plant trees before or after playing their round of golf
 
1970   March 27, 1970 - "Thunder Hills Country Club, Inc." was filed as a business entity with the State of Iowa.
  Only the second Planned Unit Development (PUD) in the State of Iowa

September 3, 1970 - Goal of 300 memberships was reached signaling the start of the club.

Original Thunder Hills Board of Directors: Bob Frommelt, Gordon Cunningham, Peter Beeves, C.J. May, Jr., Frank Dunn, Merlin Apel and Jim Edwards

290 acres of land purchased from the Red Burds and Bucky Harris farms just east of Peosta, IA
  Realtor Lyle Koop (West Side Realty) was instrumental in getting the sale of the farms to Thunder Hills

Construction begins
  Land purchase and sales commission $173,500
  18 hole golf Course
  - Designed by Gordon Cunningham
$111,400
  6,700 square foot Clubhouse and maintenance building
  - Member Jim Edwards (Edwards Construction) laid the foundation and floors
  - Member Charlie Skemp (Skemp Masonry) did the block work
  - Len Timmerman (contractor) built the building
$100,000
  Olympic size pool and equipment building
  - Member Jim Edwards (Edwards Construction) built the pool
$50,000
 
1969   In 1964, Gordon Cunningham resigned as the Golf Pro at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Dubuque, IA to found Midwest Irrigation Co. With partners, Peter Beaves (a plumber by trade) and Mayhew Bennett their mission was to install golf course irrigation systems.

By 1966, the team decided they should expand by opening a 51-acre, nine-hole golf course known as the Red Course at Lacoma Golf Club in East Dubuque, IL.

In 1969, Gordon Cunningham, Peter Beaves and Midwest Irrigation's business attorney C.J. May, Jr. and banker Frank Dunn (East Dubuque Saving, East Dubuque, IA), and Gordon's neighbor Bob Frommelt (Frommelt Industries, Dubuque, IA) conceived of a vision to build a residential community with homes backing up to an 18-hole golf course. The idea of Thunder Hills Country Club was born.

Fall of 1969, membership drive begins - $500 Initiation Fee, $20 monthly dues
  300 memberships required to get financing from American Trust and Savings Bank