Eric's Heroes: Brothers carve dream out of cow pasture and share it with the world
To build something you love in the backyard, and then share it with the world free of charge, is a special thing.
This week, Eric's hero is Bill Dunson.
One time 19 years ago, Dunson and his brother Jim were in Arizona chasing a little white ball around the desert.
"We played 54 holes of golf one day and he (Jim) said, 'Christ Bill, we could make a better golf course at the gate ranch...' and I said yeah, we can," Dunson said.
And so the two of them moved a couple of horses and six cows off their property and built a dream.
It's seven miles west of Rochester, and it is called the Gate Ranch Golf Course.
"You see the grass over there next to the fence, they just mowed it, that's what this used to be, a cow pasture," Dunson said.
There are 14 acres of par-3 fairways in Dunson's backyard.
There are wildly scenic greens, a water hazard with a beaver dam, and it is all accentuated with old farm equipment and funky trees.
It is a most unusual golf course.
"This is like heaven to me too, you know?" Dunson said.
For instance, all club rentals are free.
"Just come in here and get it, whatever you want. It's all here," Dunson said.
Before you even get to the first tee box, there is a sign you don't see every day.
It says, "No foul language will be tolerated."
There are other signs too, including, "Donations are welcome." Because there are no greens fees here.
The Gate Ranch Golf Course is open seven days a week and if you show up, you'll get your free clubs and free golf ... and free country humor, which is the best kind.
"And I tell them that the time to talk to Jesus is before you hit, because everybody hits the ball and they say, 'Jesus Christ!'"
Dunson will take your picture if you play, and you'll becomes a part of the place.
"We lost our minds," Dunson said reflecting on his life and the course. "Well, you know, let me give this some thought now. Jim and I would be very selfish if we kept this spot to ourselves."
The two of them poured their guts into this place.
Jim passed away three months ago and so now Bill, who is 88 years old, cuts the grass and maintains their dream alone.
"I have had a lot of people after Jim passed say, 'Are you going to keep it up?'" Dunson said. "I say, yes, as long as I can crawl on a mower I'm going to keep it up."
Dunson carved a dream out of a cow pasture. No rental fees, no greens fees, no cussing and no pretense.
"This is paradise. For me, this is paradise," he said.
Editor's Note: "Eric's Heroes" is a weekly series airing every Wednesday on KOMO News in the 6 p.m. newscast. If you have a good story about a good person doing good things for the right reasons, share it with Eric by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.