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Bronze golf statue unveiled at Town and Country Club

By Staff | Aug 16, 2008

Derek Abel, left, and George Bassett pose next to the new statue at the Town and Country Golf Club. Abel was the model for the bronze statue, Bassett the sculptor.

Not every high school golfer has a lifesize bronze statue of himself – swinging a golf club – on display at his home course.

For Derek Abel of Blue Earth, it is even more ironic since he will just be entering high school as a ninth grader this fall.

Abel was the model for the new statue at the Riverside Town and Country Club, located between Winnebago and Blue Earth.

The statue was sculpted and cast by local artist George Bassett, and had been commissioned by a group of golf club members. It was officially unveiled and dedicated last Tuesday.

Two summers ago Bassett was at the course studying possible locations for the yet to be designed art piece when he noticed Abel golfing.

Bassett asked the youngster if he would agree to be the model and Abel said yes.

“Derek came over to my studio many times that winter and posed,” Bassett recalls. It was pretty convenient since both Bassett and Abel live just west of the course.

Abel says modeling wasn’t very hard to do, but it did involve a lot of time.

“George took a lot of measurements to make sure he got everything just right,” he recalls. That was two years ago, so Abel has grown a lot since then.

Bassett says he decided to use a young golfer as a model in order to signify the future of golfing.

“I also like the position of the statue, alongside the first tee box,” he says. “It looks like Derek just hit a nice drive to the green.”

A group of 14 club members, along with four minor contributors, paid for the statue and donated it to the club.

“We felt because an artist of George’s reputation lived within one mile of the golf course we should do something to commemorate the club and Bassett’s work,” says Pierre “Pete” Willette who chaired the group of donors. “We were very glad that George was willing to do the statue for us.”

Bassett was an art and science teacher at several schools, including Granada-Huntley-East Chain, before retiring. His other work includes the Hubert H. Humphrey bust at the state capitol, Danish immigrants in Albert Lea, and a statue of a girl at the Blue Earth pool.

The statue was completed last year, and was installed in June. The statue base was constructed by Greg Young, who also lives near the course.

“It looks great and is truly an asset to the club,” Board President Lars Bierly says. “The board and members are very thankful to George and all of the donors who made this statue possible.

Riverside Town and Country Club was started in 1921, and the idea of the statue actually began as a way to celebrate the 85th anniversary two years ago.

As for young Derek Abel, he is trying to downplay all the mention of his being the model for the new statue.

He was rewarded for his efforts with a small version of the same art piece, also sculpted out of bronze by Bassett. Each one of the donors also received one of the small statuettes.

Abel says he received over 100 text messages from classmates and friends when a story about him modeling appeared in the Mankato Free Press last week.

“They were giving me a lot of grief about it,” he said with a smile. He expects a lot more grief when he heads back to school later this month.

Especially from other members of the Blue Earth Area golf team, who, he says, can hardly believe the statue is actually depicting one of their own teammates.

They’ll believe it now.