The flood of 2011 dealt a bruising and lasting blow to the people and property of much of Minot. High water destroyed virtually everything in its wide path, including all of Minot's golf courses. Minot's home for youth golf, the Jack Hoeven Wee Links, was literally washed away.
After losing two seasons of golf, a comeback is well under way at the innovative nine-hole layout for the city's youngest golfers. The fairways and rough and greens were seeded this past summer. Renovation of the clubhouse is nearing completion.
"We actually mowed the greens probably half a dozen times this past summer," said Steve Kottsick, Souris Valley Golf Course professional. "We've got our pumps operational. All the irrigation is good. We're ready to get fired up for spring again."
The outside of the clubhouse at Jack Hoeven Wee Links has been returned to pre-2011 flood condition. Interior work is expected to be completed this winter. A spring grand opening is planned.
The clubhouse at Wee Links was inundated with several feet of rushing water in 2011. Like so many other buildings that suffered
submersion due to the flood, it had to be stripped to the bare frame before reconstruction could begin.
"It was totally gutted. We started from scratch," said Kottsick while standing in the interior of the clubhouse and admiring the renovation work. "It'll be a warmer feeling in the Pro Shop and I think the kids will want to hang out here more."
Rudy Zupetz, a long-time supporter of youth golf programs and a woodworker, has been pitching in to help bring the previously soggy clubhouse back to life. With the help of his wife, Mary, they were working this past week on the installation of new cabinets and countertops. When finished, they expect the new interior to be an improvement over the original design.
"What really got me going was the pretty high percentage of people just down the street who are fixing things up. They're betting they're not going to get flooded for another 30 years," said Zupetz. "We opened 12 years ago and then, due to the flood, everything was back to where we started. Grass, trees, buildings you name it."
Dead and dying trees were removed from the course. Silt up to three feet deep in places had to be scraped away. The irrigation system needed repairs and the entire layout had to be planted with grass seed. That was accomplished this past summer.
"Mike Morley helped a lot. He's got some great contacts," said Zupetz, acknowledging the assistance of the Minot native and former Professional Golf Association tour player. "David Lang help a lot with the grass too."
The Jack Hoeven Wee Links was designed for beginning and youth golfers. The distances from tee to green are short, but complete with sand traps and all of the other identities of a major public or private course. If everything goes as planned, the Wee Links will open again next spring and youngsters will be back on the course for the first time in two years.
"We plan on opening Memorial (Day) weekend with a grand opening, re-dedication of Wee Links, the following weekend," said Kottsick. "We hope to get the kids out here again and get them swinging clubs again. It's going to look really cool when it's all done. I hope the kids like it."