Rural Missouri - May 2020 - 20

by Jennifer Johnson | info@ruralmissouri.coop
photos by Zach Smith | zsmith@ruralmissouri.coop

F

or two decades, Danny Williams had a dream. A
competitive horseshoe player since he was 21,
Danny wanted to build a clubhouse with indoor
courts where people could pitch horseshoes yearround. But when he told other people his dream, they
laughed.
	 Danny realized his dream on July 6, 2002, when he
and wife, Melody, opened the Backyard Horseshoe Club
in Grassy, five miles west of Glen Allen. It is one of three
horseshoe clubs in Missouri that were built by couples in
their own backyard. The name also evokes memories for
Danny of playing horseshoes at family gatherings when he
was growing up in southeast Missouri.
	 "Every time we would all get together, we would pitch
horseshoes," Danny says. "The whole family participated.
I liked the challenge of hitting the stake and making a
ringer, and the competition between family members and
friends."
"A lot of people don't know that rural horseshoe clubs
exist," Melody says, "but competitive pitchers do."
At the Backyard Horseshoe Club, Danny and Melody
host tournaments twice a month, October through March.
They use two wood stoves to heat the 75-by-125-foot
clubhouse, which has four regulation courts fenced like a
batting cage plus a concession stand and restrooms.
	 People also call and ask to pitch horseshoes on
alternate weekends, Melody says, and can rent the
building for reunions or parties. Horseshoes are optional.
	 "It's kind of a community club in the country," she says.
	 Anyone can enter a tournament for fun, but competition
mostly draws members of the Missouri Horseshoe Pitching

Association. Sanctioned weekend tournaments are
important because their scores, in terms of percentage of
ringers per game, are averaged for seeding in state and
national tournaments. Rankings, along with stats dating
back to the 1920s for some competitions, appear on the
state association website. Top-ranked pitchers have a
ringer average of 70% to 75%.
	 Al Mundy, state association Zone 3 director, used
to have his own indoor courts in his backyard, so he
understands the desire to practice year-round to improve
your game.
	 "It gets in your blood," he says.
	 Al lives in southwest Missouri, where pitchers gather
one weekend a month at the Strawberry Shed, six miles
south of Aurora. An offshoot of the Crane Horseshoe
Club, the Strawberry Shed was built in 1989 by Frank
and Ruth Hudson, who named it Hudson Hall. When the
couple started growing strawberries in the fields around
the clubhouse, they used their indoor court to store flats of
fruit awaiting pickup.
	 Frank and Ruth competed in national and world (U.S.
and Canada) tournaments. They were inducted into the
Missouri Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame in 2015. Frank
passed away in 2017, and while the courts no longer host
tournaments, Ruth says some faithful regulars still like to
practice there. The Strawberry Shed is a barn, she says,
but a nice barn.
	 "My husband wanted to fix it up nice," Ruth says. "It
has a dining area with windows where the women can sit
and watch and stay warm."
	 South of Fort Leonard Wood, Donra and Virgil McCown
welcome pitchers to the Good Luck Horseshoe Club, which
they built on their property six miles outside of Bucyrus in
2010. Pitchers come from as far away as the Kansas City

Known for their devotion to the game, serious pitchers often compete at indoor courts where dirt lanes and sand pits give way to concrete floors
and clay. Popular in chillier months, the indoor courts also shelter players from rain and can be air conditioned for the dog days of summer.

XX

RURAL MISSOURI | MAY 2020



Rural Missouri - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - May 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - May 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2020 - 4
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Rural Missouri - May 2020 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - May 2020 - Cover4
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