When Wanda J. Wade came back to town, changes started happening. Ideas for improving a large section of land north of town developed quickly, all of it to benefit the community.
She unleashed a whirlwind of ideas onto Shelbyville’s public golf course. Some are completed. Those in process are gaining momentum, and other plans are well on their way.
“The wheels turn constantly. I’m a forward thinker,” 78-year-old Wade said. “I don’t ever live in the past. I don’t have a day that I don’t have a positive thought. The negatives get in the way, but I don’t dwell on them. Negatives drain your energy.”
Upkeep of the 18-hole course admittedly needed improvement, according to Wade, who recently became the sole owner and CEO of the establishment, even though it had been a Wade family investment since 2004.
“We came up here to look at it in October 2004. The Elks still owned it,” Wade said, referring to herself and
husband Paul. “The leaves had turned and I fell in love with this property. It was beautiful.”
The couple had no intentions to buy a golf course, though.
“We did it for the family as an investment. I love the city of Shelbyville. I fell in love with it when I first saw the (downtown) circle and how well people took care of it and still do.”
Their son, Trev Wade, formerly managed operations of the 2660 N. Riley Highway course, while his parents continued farming the homestead they had maintained for 26 years in Mount Vernon. The Wades also formerly owned Wade Oil Corp., a petroleum service in Posey County.
But on Aug. 1, Wanda shifted her focus 100 percent to improvements for the local golf course. She “hit the ground running” to rebuild the property and its reputation.
“I formed a new LLC and renamed it River’s Edge Public Golf Course to get a new start,” she said, partnering with local residents Jim Lisher as legal counsel, Jack Skillman as maintenance supervisor, and Nick and Judy Ciarletta as operations managers.
“They all grew up on this course and care about it,” Wade said.
Wade’s energy is contagious, according to Jerry Martin, who has been a member at the golf course for 60-plus years. “She works like she’s 28!” he said.
“I do have high energy,” Wade said, adding that she is quite independent. “I just want to make a positive difference to my community, and in my society, and in my church. That’s my legacy. I hope to give Shelbyville memories of the past, but bring this to a present, uplifting environment. There’s never a day go by that someone doesn’t say ‘We used to come out here and have so much fun.’”
At this point in time, Wade said she has overseen the installation of two fountains in two ponds at the course’s seventh and sixteenth holes.
“They are lit and can change colors, and provide music and with a control I can even make the water dance,” she said. Stone has been added and weeds and trash eliminated. During construction, Wade said at least 10,000 golf balls were retrieved on the property.
Two new tee boxes were installed at those holes and the road was raised between them where it had formerly gone down into a valley.
Remodeling inside the clubhouse has included new furniture to make “a nice cozy atmosphere”, and removal of a wall between the banquet room and the old Pro Shop. The size of the Pro Shop was also reduced. “We also took out the island and flipped the bar that faced the west wall so that it now faces the south wall,” Wade said. “The windows are opened now so diners can look out at the course, too.”
Future plans, according to Wade, include having two indoor simulators where golfers can try out 50 different courses, form leagues, and take lessons; establishing theme nights in The Edge bar; installing a covered stage outdoors, and implementing new golfing events.
There are still obstacles to overcome, according to Wade, including the perception that the course is still “for members only”.
“It’s a public course open to everyone. We’re getting ready to do severe marketing to make that known,” she said. “I want it to be a welcoming community venue.”
The river flowing near the course’s boundaries is another obstacle, according to Wade.
“We’re doing tiling to divert flood waters to our ponds,” she said. “The utmost important thing to our golfers is that we are going to keep working on the course. We want the course to look real pristine. We went from
dirt, crabgrass and thistles to actual grass.”
While evening meals are not served at this time, Wade has the clubhouse open for the public to come for lunch Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We offer soup, salad bar, and Panini’s right now,” she said. “An upscale bar menu is coming.”
Upcoming events include a gathering for the Super Bowl Sunday, and a Sweetheart Dinner and Dance on Feb. 15. Information is available at www.riversedgeentertainmentllc.com or by calling 317-392-9100.
Golfing season, Wade said, will start whenever the weather breaks.