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From Feedlot to Famed Fun

Farmer converts family’s cattle feedlot to a grass tennis court.

It’s a real-life Field of Dreams, only with tennis instead of baseball. Iowa farmer Mark Kuhn’s love affair with tennis began in 1960, as he listened to his grandfather’s shortwave radio.

“One day we listened to the BBC broadcast of Wimbledon,” Kuhn says. “We liked the accent and the way the game was scored. With all the tradition amongst Wimbledon, my interest in tennis grew.”

His mother used S&H green stamps to purchase a tennis racket, which led him to play in high school and college.

After college, he came back to his family’s farm near Charles City, Iowa, and developed the idea of building a Wimbledon-style tennis court there. After researching turf grass management, he began construction plans in the summer of 2002.

“My parents didn’t think a great deal of the idea of converting the cattle feedlot to a grass tennis court,” he says. “But, some 40 years later, in the summer of 2002 and 2003, we created a tennis court.”

It took approximately one year to create and finish the court. The daunting but promising task required cutting sod, installing an irrigation system, and implementing drainage tiles. A full year after seeding Bentgrass and cutting, sanding, priming, and painting 628 individual fence pickets, the court was complete.

Since completion, the All-Iowa Lawn Tennis Court Club has drawn visitors from 40 states and several countries.

“There’s a real pent-up demand for people who want to play on grass. There are so few places that you can do it, so they come here,” Kuhn says.

Listen to the Radio Show podcast of this story on the Friday, September 11 episode “Court of Dreams” at Agriculture.com/media-center/radio.

The Successful Farming Radio Podcast is an Internet version of the Successful Farming Radio Show. Created by the editors of Successful Farming Magazine and Agriculture.com, each episode offers tales from the trenches, must-know-info, and expert advice.

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