By Tom Southard

Bruce Gilliland to be inducted into Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame


Tom Southard

Kimball's Dean of Golf, Bruce Gilliland, sits down for a brief photo shoot on the rock that holds a plaque of thanks from members of the men's and women's golf associations thanking both Bruce and wife Wilma for all of the many contributions they have done for the betterment of golf in Kimball. Bruce will be inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame on September 29, 2014, in an evening ceremony at the Country Club in Lincoln. Bruce still makes multiple daily trips to the Four Winds Golf Course fulfilling his duties as Director of Golf, a position he has held since 1966.

On September 29, 2014, Kimball's Bruce Gilliland will be inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame at a ceremony being held at the Lincoln Country Club. His induction will come just three days after he celebrates his 97th birthday!

Bruce was notified of his selection on June 19, 2014, by Hall of Fame president Dan Bahensky and is one of five who will be recognized on this evening and due to the fact that the association has gone to a bi-annual induction ceremony, there are really two years of members being inducted this year.

Others being recognized include professional golfer Mark Calcaveccia, Jerry Fisher, Scottsbluff golfer and high school coach Mike Klein, and Omaha World Herald writer, Stu Pospisil.

Bruce's selection is a result of being nominated by businessman/former mayor, Greg Robinson. Greg said he was prompted into submitting Bruce's nomination after a talk he had with Bruce's wife Wilma.

"I told Wilma it was too bad there wasn't some type of Hall of Fame honor Bruce could be eligible for after all he has done for the game of golf, not only in Kimball, but nationwide. Wilma informed me that there actually was a special award given to people who play major roles in promoting the game, other than players. I gathered my information and submitted my nomination on May 9, 2012," Robinson said.

The following letter of nomination pretty much tells the story:

"Dear Mr. Bahensky:

It is with great pleasure that I nominate Bruce Gilliland for the Dr. Herbert H. Davis Memorial Award.

I can think of few people who have done more for the game of golf than Bruce Gilliland. Bruce was born in Collinsville, OK, graduated from Collinsville High School and later from Oklahoma A & M with a degree in Civil Engineering. After some time in Texas he owned and operated Plains Construction Company in Kimball from 1953-1978. He is married to Wilma and they have one son, Stephen.

Bruce's contributions to golf began in 1966 when the Kimball City/County Park and Recreation Board was formed and decided to build a Complex complete with 4 Baseball Fields, Archery Range, Trap Club, Tennis Courts and of course a golf course. Bruce designed 9 holes and with help from hired contractors the original 9 was completed in 1969. Bruce did all of the surveying, design and a lot of the manual labor. The second 9 was completed in 1993. Once again Bruce did all the surveying, design and a lot of the manual labor, but this time very little outside help was used. Bruce and his gang of young men also converted the original manual watering system with a fully automated system. Everyday you could see Bruce down in a trench helping the boys with a fitting or a valve or simply hand digging the trench.

One day Bruce and Wilma were driving home from a trip and were talking about the congestion that the Junior Golf program caused around the Pro Shop, putting green and driving range. Bruce told Wilma 'You get the money and I will build it', well they did and he did. In 1995 they applied for a Junior Golf Grant from the United States Golf Association and received $35,000.00. Bruce built 2 greens and a driving range tee, one of the greens even has a sand trap beside it. Later he even designed and built a gazebo beside the Junior Golf building. There is never a charge to play these holes and Juniors have priority. It is a great place to practice your short game and many times you will see adults with children playing a few holes.

In addition to his design and construction work, Bruce has served as Director of Golf since 1966. He is the liaison between the Park & Rec Board and the Golf Pro and Greens Superintendent. He has consulted with them on the day to day operations, has compiled statistical information for the board, handled the bills and many other duties. I am sure he has worn out multiple vehicles driving back and forth to the golf course.

As a player Bruce was very good. He was not long, but had a deadly short game and was an unbelievable putter. Well I guess that makes sense, he built the greens. Bruce was always in contention for the Club Championship and was once the runner-up in the State Sand Greens Championship.

For 21 years Bruce was the volunteer Scoreboard Printer for the Women's Trans National Golf Association and also did the scoreboard for the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship for several years. Bruce was a founding member of the Kimball Rotary Club and a member of the Kimball Country Club since 1961. He was a founding member of the Nebraska State Sand Greens Golf Association, Co-founder of the Panhandle Golf Association and a Lifetime Member of the Nebraska Golf Association.

As you can see, Bruce's contributions to golf are numerous, I am sure I just touched on the total story. It would be impossible to calculate in dollars what Bruce has given to golf. I hope you give strong consideration to Bruce's nomination for the Dr. Herbert H. Davis Memorial Award, I can think of no one who deserves it more," the letter stated.


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