As I look back at the past year, I am reminded again how fortunate I am and how much I have to be thankful for. My family is healthy and happy and despite the pandemic, the economy and the golf industry as a whole appears to be looking good for the coming year. The past year was busy for us and we had a number of exciting new projects and some really great clients. Here’s some of our highlights from 2020:
We did two projects this year with the City of St. Paul and Foursome Golf Management. The first was a unique stormwater project at Como Golf Course where we installed 1,100 feet of six-foot diameter pipe under the seventh fairway to pre-treat stormwater runoff before it enters Como Lake. The second was a bunker renovation at Phalen Golf Course. Phalen Golf Course was constructed in 1919 but had lost much of its “golden-age” character to previous renovations. The 2020 bunker renovation was directed at improving playability, reducing maintenance and restoring the classic character of the course. We are using sod bunker liners, flat sand and fescue grass faces.
Last spring we completed a long range master plan study for Grand Forks Country Club, a 1940 Robert Bruce Harris design in North Dakota. We worked with JJ Keegan on this in-depth study to help put the club on a path to financial sustainability. By June of this year the Club had 70 new members which prompted them to ask us to begin planning for the first phase of master plan improvements. We hope to begin construction in the fall of 2021 on a project to reducing seasonal flooding and improve drainage on the west side of the golf course.
In August we began construction on improvements to the ninth hole at Golden Valley Country Club in Minnesota, a 1928 A.W. Tillinghast Design. The work involved re-establishment of historic fairway grassing lines and construction of a new fairway bunker. We are currently working with the club on plans to relocate and expand the driving range and practice facilities.
In September, Norby Golf Design and Landscapes Unlimited began construction on the restoration of Quail Run Golf Course in Nebraska following the devastating floods that left nine feet of water covering eleven holes. The restoration is being jointly funded by FEMA and the City of Columbus. The irrigation system is complete and, in the spring of 2021, we will begin work on bunkers, cart paths and regrassing.
In October I joined other golf architects and golf course contractors in Northern California for a meeting of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Afterwards, I extended my trip to check off some bucket list courses including Pasatiempo, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills. What a fabulous trip. Thanks to my playing partners Jon O’Donnell from Heritage Links, Jeremy Shay from Paiute Golf Club and John Pollock from Rainbird for their companionship and hospitality.
In November, we were awarded an engagement to renovate Paako Ridge Golf Course outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. Paako Ridge is a 27-hole Ken Dye design and is widely considered the best golf course in New Mexico. The property is spectacular. My associate Jon Schmenk and I will be working with former PGA Tour Professional Kelly Gibson and Duininck Golf to make some dramatic improvements. Long-range plans include the addition of new forward tees, a new nine holes, the Himalayas putting course, new irrigation, and on-site lodging.
Lastly, this fall we were hired to develop a long range master plan for St. Croix National Golf Club in Wisconsin. The new owners have plans to develop a ski resort and improve the condition and playability of the golf course. The property has a good routing and dramatic elevation changes but has long been plagued by narrow tree lined fairways, limited sight lines and poorly positioned bunkers. Beginning later in 2021, we will take the first steps towards making the course a more up-scale destination for golfers in Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.
Thank you to all of you who worked with us in 2020 and to those of you who take the time to follow our projects. We hope you have a safe and prosperous new year in 2021.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss how we might assist you with your project, please feel free to call me at (952)361-0644 or email me at kevin@NorbyGolf.com. You can also visit our website at www.NorbyGolfDesign.com. Thank you.