The day everyone involved with the Minot Country Club has waited for since the old facility was flooded in 2011 arrived Wednesday afternoon when ground was officially broken on a brand new course.
Doug Larson, president of the country club, said the process to build the new course has been going on for close to two years.
"We didn't actually have a deal to have a piece of land for this course until December of last year," Larson said. "So from December until now there's been a lot that's going on, and it's probably not a process you'd wish upon yourself for a volunteer job."
Members of the Minot Country Club and Minot Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors break ground at the site of the new golf course Wednesday afternoon.
A piece of heavy equipment scrapes dirt in the background while a bulldozer silently sits in the foreground. It is hoped the new Minot Country Club golf course will be complete late next year and be ready to play in 2015.
A lot of things go into constructing something the size of a golf course, according to Larson. He noted with a laugh there are many members on the country club's board of directors who have gotten an intense education on how the process works.
When they started working toward a new course, Larson said there were four benchmarks that needed to be met before they could proceed to the construction phase.
The first was a membership goal of 200, which has been met. The second was a piece of land ready to go for the course, which they found at the edge of southeast Minot, nestled in some hills south of 37th Avenue Southeast. The third benchmark was having their financing in place, which they have also accomplished. The final check on the to-do list was ensuring there would be water on site for watering the greens. While there is a stream meandering through the area, Larson said it couldn't be counted upon to always be full. Therefore, wells were dug and tested to ensure a reliable water supply.
"So really there were four things that needed to happen before we started," Larson said. "That's kind of the process we've gone through."
It was this past fall when the club voted to relocate to a new course and sell the existing course to a group of investors who would rebuild it and reopen under a new name. Larson said they are very close to getting the old course up and running again.
"Once that (sale) happened, we either had to commit to making this work or just dissolving as a country club. And, you know, frankly either could have happened," Larson said. "We're very fortunate to be where we are right now because there were no guarantees this was going to work. We're in a position now where we're pretty sure this course is going to be completed."
Substantial course completion is planned for Sept. 15 of next year, with final completion set for Sept. 30. Barring any setbacks, Larson said they plan to be officially open for play in the spring of 2015.
"And that is also the time line we would expect our clubhouse and other amenities to be built, also," he said. "There may be about a year delay in those starting because there's no sense in having a facility up if we don't have a course."
Access to the course is also tied to a nearby housing development, with Larson stating the further they get along with that development, the better the access will be to the future course clubhouse site.
Larson said there are many people on the country club board who are dedicated to the idea that with all of the growth the city has been experiencing the past few years, Minot really needed another amenity like this new course.
"There's going to be plenty of golfers, there's going to be plenty of people, and this can be a very successful venture," he said.
Chris Strange, golf course superintendent, was just brought on about a month ago and is the country club's first employee. He is incredibly excited to be able to get in on the ground floor of a completely new course.
"It's an awesome opportunity to build the course from the ground up and be a part of it from day one. (To) know where everything is underground and supervise that as it all takes place," Strange said. "It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get in our industry, so I'm pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to come to Minot and build this thing."
The course is a full 18 holes and designed by highly-acclaimed golf course architect Jim Engh. It will have a par-72 layout and incorporate the rugged, hilly terrain, which will include 12 stream crossings. Larson said it will be considered a mountain course, and will actually be quite challenging just to travel across without the aid of a golf cart.
Amenities at the course will include the member clubhouse with golf shop, retail center, locker rooms, and a restaurant and grille featuring many different dining options. There will be year-round socials and other activities, and even a member pool.
For more information about the Minot Country Club, including memberships, go online to minotcountryclub.com or call 852-3591.
Larson said they plan to do many different things to keep the country club members engaged during the construction process, such as giving them tours at different phases of construction so they can see the progress for themselves.
"There's a lot of blind faith. People put money up just on the notion of getting this going, and they'll be paying two years without any golf on this site," he said. "So that's a pretty good leap of faith, we feel, and we want everybody to be aware of the progress being made as it goes along."