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If you would like to improve your game or just have your swing looked at, talk to Vernon or Adam in the Pro Shop. Single lessons are $40. Ask about lesson series pricing.

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Grips on your clubs should be changed every two seasons. Northeastern 18 offers grip replacement services. Cost of regripping will be the price of the grip plus a one dollar service fee.

He's Back Home On the Range

Vernon Harbart returns to Sterling Golf Community

By Barbara Baker

Vernon HarbartFor more than 90 years, the golf course on the west edge of Sterling was a privately held country club. It was a place for members and their guests only. It was exclusive, expensive and well-- extraordinary. It has always been one of the nicest courses in the region--always been well respected because it has always been well-run and well-kept.

So, when Northeastern Junior College began looking for someone who would be the right person to oversee the golfing operations, it knew it needed to find someone like Vernon Harbart. For 13 of these 90 plus years, between 1986 and 1999, Harbart spent endless hours on these Sterling greens—golfing, teaching, monitoring and watching. He knows the course well and has always had a special place for it in his heart. He was more than happy to return to Sterling this past June when he was named director of golf at Northeastern 18. He returns to Sterling after spending ten years as the golf pro in Fort Morgan.

A product of Neligh, Nebraska, close to Norfolk, Harbart knew from an early age that he wanted to combine his passion with his profession. He had learned to golf when he was in high school so when the college recruiters came around offering golf scholarships, the time he spent on the driving range was about to pay off.

"I went to Southeast Junior College in Fairbury, Nebraska for two years, played on the college golf team with a full ride scholarship and got my associate's degree in business administration," he recalls. "Then I went to Park College in Kansas City and I continued to play on the golf team with a full ride scholarship. I finished a degree in computer base Information systems." Harbart was a first generation college student at the time and the only one in his family that played golf. So, the fact that he was able to pay his way through college swinging clubs was impressive. While he studied computer systems, Harbart sees no shame in admitting that chasing the dimpled ball was and always has been his first love and once he realized he could make a living on the golf course, he lost interest in hard drives.

This spring, word was circulating among the northeastern Colorado golf community that Harbart was between jobs. Judy Robinson, who knew him from his years at Sterling County Club, called him and encouraged him to take a look at the Northeastern 18 opportunity. He applied for the position and has since been through the interview and hiring process.

"I was immediately excited about it," Harbart said. "I believed with my history here, it could be a good fit for me again." The opportunity for Northeastern 18 to be turned in to a teaching facility made the prospects all the sweeter. "It's such a great experience for kids in this area to be getting hands-on experience. And, I welcome the challenge of helping change the 90 year history of this golf course by playing a role in helping it become a public course," Harbart notes. He sees the college's role in helping make golf more accessible to everyone as an important one. "Having been such a fan of the sport for all of these years, I welcome every opportunity I can find to show someone else how to play it, understand it and enjoy it," Harbart said. "And to be able to help combine this golf course with the college and improve upon an already great learning atmosphere in the process, well, it's just remarkable." Having paid for most of his college by playing golf, he is especially excited that NJC is bringing back a competitive collegiate golf team.

Already, this golf enthusiast is making plans for some new programs and activities at Northeastern 18. He has helped set up a beginner's golf program and is working on a junior golf program. He will be putting together a "stay and play" package to bring outsiders to this area to play golf, stay overnight and kick some additional cash into the lodging and eating establishments here. "My main plan now is to make Northeastern 18 a prime public golf course in northeastern Colorado," he said.

Harbart knows first-hand that if you enjoy what you're doing every day, then life is fun. He's enjoying being back in this area and getting reacquainted with old friends and making new ones. Golf has kept his life full of movement and memories. He has played golf at many different courses around the country; and he's taught many a player how to properly hit the ball. He is offering a beginner golf for adults class which will start on Wednesdays, beginning August 25th and running through September 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Prime Time Learners, age 60 and over, get a special reduced tuition rate for this basic course designed for those who have had little or no formal instruction or for those with some experience who are interested in improving some aspect of their game. The class includes driving range, putting green, and on-course play. To get more details on this class, or to sign up, call Extended Studies at 521-6900. If you want to call Harbart directly to welcome him back to Sterling, call him at the club house, 521-6890.

Golf can be an all consuming activity for those who live to play the sport. However, having gotten married in 2004, Harbart now enjoys four step children and five grandchildren. Playing with grand kids is almost as fun as playing golf, he says. In what little spare time he does have, he occasionally remembers to walk the dog.