Renovation of Apple Grove
Sometime next summer the “thwack” of a well hit golf ball will once again be heard on Minot’s east edge. Renovation of Apple Grove Golf Course is well underway.
The historic flood of 2011 covered the course, leaving behind heavy silt, uprooted trees and virtually everything imaginable carried by the constant current of the overflowing Souris River. Severe damage was done to the popular 9-hole layout, so much so that it would take considerable work to make the facility playable again. Now, six years after the devastating flood, the course is being completely rebuilt.
“We decided to give it a shot,” said Donny Aasen, Aasen Landscaping. “We’ve been working on it all summer. We’re changing the whole thing. It’ll be a whole different ballgame. I think the people are really going to like it.”
The idea for the course came from Aasen’s father. With the help of his sons, Donny and Tommy, the facility opened up in 1979. It quickly became a hit with Minot’s golfing community who discovered a 9-hole “executive” course fit their life-style and their game. Hundreds of golfers felt the loss when the course was closed following the 2011 flood.
Today excitement continues to build among those golfers and countless others who are waiting anxiously for a chance to swing the clubs at the quaint layout in the near future. However, it won’t quite be the same. The new and improved Apple Grove will be a very different course than the pre-flood Apple Grove.
“There’s five par 4’s and four par 3’s,” said Mike Morley, Minot. “This course has a great starting hole and a great finishing hole.”
Morley, a former Professional Golf Association player and designer of golf courses, was hired by Tommy and Donny Aasen to help provide input for the new course. The result was a much improved layout.
“He’s got a lot of good ideas,” said Donny Aasen. “He’s come up with some pretty nice stuff.”
The new Apple Grove will have some contours to the fairways where they once were flat. Tee boxes and greens have been moved too. The size and shape of the greens has been changed. Several holes have been reconfigured to add distance from tee to green.
“We’ve lengthened some holes. It didn’t have much character before. Now it’s bigger and better,” said Donny Aasen. “It’ll be very nice compared to what it used to be. I think it’s badly needed. Everybody we’ve talked to is very excited.”
Among the notable changes to the course is the number of trees, particularly the long-needle pines. Most died following the flood and had to be removed. However, beautiful as they were, the large pines weren’t the best choice of trees to line the fairways of a golf course. They dropped large pine cones that clogged up lawn mowers and got in the way of golfers preparing for their next shot.
“There’s still enough trees to define the fairways,” noted Morley. “It’ll be very nice.”
Large equipment was being used to put the finishing touches on major earthwork on the fairways last week. The sand base for the greens is expected to be completed this week. Seeding of greens and fairways should take place by mid-September.
“We’re hoping to open next year. It all depends on seeding. July sometime is a date we are shooting for but it is hard to say,” said Donny Aasen.
A new sprinkler system has been installed on the course. Water will come from a well that served the old Apple Grove. The sprinkler system should prove to be a big benefit to getting the course to green-up once again. Aasen says some additional trees could be added to the course in the future but the location of those, if desired, will likely be determined after the course has been opened for play.
Once the seeding is completed the work will turn to the trimming of trees and bushes and general policing of the grounds. The clubhouse survived the flood but needs considerable work to serve the needs of golfers. It featured a balcony that overlooks the course. How the clubhouse will look in the future will be determined later this year.
The Aasen’s have taken no other landscaping jobs this summer so that they could devote full-time to the rebuilding of the course. They estimate they’ve constructed over 20 golf courses in North Dakota and Minnesota, but this one is filled with memories.
“The cool thing is, this was the first one and will be the last one,” said Donny Aasen. “We’ll be stepping back from landscaping after this.”