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Volume 8 • Issue 4 • April 2015

Sweet Home Minnesota

- Golf Trips In Your Home State

Planning A Buddy's
Golf Trip
- 9 Tips To Make It Epic

Muni's On The Mend
- Edinburgh USA, Back To
Top Form

The Carolina's

- 259 Miles Between Pinehurst
And Hilton Head

Muni's On The Mend

4

April 2015

Edinburgh USA,
Back To Top Form
By R.J. Smiley

The golf course that once held the USGA Public Links a regular basis - indefinitely.
Championship and a Women’s professional tournament
for seven years are now BACK IN TOURNAMENT Over the next several years Twin Cities public course
CONDITION.
golfers will be treated to a variety of “drastically” updated,
refurbished and, yes, some totally rebuilt municipal
Golf courses get old and tired - just like the golfers who golf courses. In 2014 we were treated to the “premature
play them! The truth is, all golf courses go through life’s opening” of a totally refurbished Keller Golf Course,
various stages; just like people. The first stage in the life of Minnesota’s most famous muni track. Designer, Richard
a golf course is the ‘conception’ stage. Conception occurs Mandell (we will learn more about his plans in later issues
when a need for a golf course is recognized and then proven of Tee Times), did a masterful job of moving the course
by a feasibility study. Sometimes conception is only the into the digital age while retaining the old “Keller” feel. In
unproven desire or the dream of a rich guy. Trouble. The the 2015 season we will experience the real Keller as the
developer then hires a designer, arranges for financing and grasses have matured and all the construction scars have
oversees construction of his baby. The second stage, call completely healed.
it the ‘grow-up’ stage, like a teenager, is where the course
goes through its growing pains, fixing design flaws and In this article we will look into the mirror and catch the
then finding its place among its various competitors. Stage reflection of the “REAL” Edinburgh USA, the first really
three, the ‘mature business’ stage, occurs when the golf “upscale” municipal facility in the Twin Cities area. In 1983
course is a functioning business with proven management the city fathers of Brooklyn Park did it right, they made a
and experienced staff with a following of regular customers. commitment to have the best public golf course operation
This ‘mature business’ stage can last anywhere between 25 in Minnesota in their little suburban community. And they
and 50 years before changes need to be made as the golf did just that. They retained Robert Trent Jones II, a big
course approaches the ‘old age’ stage. In ‘old age’ stage name in golf course architecture business, to design a truly
major changes must be made. Budget restrictions cause championship layout; and added a clubhouse to match!
many golf operations to make a series of unplanned and Since 1987 the thousands of dollars added annually to the
unrelated changes piece by piece. Like waiting for the city’s property tax rolls have proven to be a silent benefit to
roof to leak before replacing it. Well financed operations Brooklyn Park.
like Keller, backed by the county, and most private clubs,
that can access its members, simply close for a season and As a fledgling golf course developer, assisting Lyle Johansen
completely rebuild. The difference between a golf course with the development of Pheasant Acres Golf Course, I recall
and a person, a golf course can continue to remake itself on visiting the former potato field that was being transformed

into Edinburgh USA. The vision of mountains of topdressing,
that resembled the Alps, still sticks in my mind. That perfect
grass growing mixture was used for final grading of the
fairways. Edinburgh was spending more money on fairway
topdressing than we were spending on our entire golf course.
The innovation and design at Edinburgh resembled something
directly out of a Star Wars episode. Edinburgh would be the
first municipal golf course in Minnesota with bent grass
fairways. The greens were huge, even larger than its neighbor
Bunker Hills. The word spread among golfers that Edinburgh
had elephants buried in some of their greens. The skinny
island fairway of the seventeenth puts a punctuation mark on
the 12 acres of man-made water on the course. A golfer who
is used to playing the tree lined courses up north remarked,
“That 17th fairway looks like a 30 yard wide state of Florida
with the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Even if
you hit that fairway, you still have to approach that peninsula
green that looks like a rowboat in the ocean. Truly, the 17th
hole is a signature hole to remember.”
Edinburgh boasts a 40,000 sq. ft. triple green, the only one
that I know of. The green, which is a combination of the
putting green, 9th and 18th green, sits directly in front of the
mammoth clubhouse.
The original development plan called for something truly
unique, a private, members only club, within the walls of
the clubhouse. Since it’s opening The St. Andrews Club has
given its members a country club membership experience at
a municipal golf course.

Edinburgh USA Clubhouse and Girvan Grille

April 2015

Muni's On The Mend

Edinburgh #18

All the things that made Edinburgh USA something special
are still there today. However, in 2013, twenty-five years after
Edinburg had opened to rave reviews, the course had fallen
on hard financial times. The mature golf operation stage had
peaked several years earlier and Edinburgh was suffering
from too many golf courses and too few golfers. Across
America golf was in a long slow downward cycle losing
players annually while the economy was still attempting to
recover. Golf revenues that once helped Brooklyn Park pay
for a second ice arena were no longer covering the expenses
of operation. Changes had to take place!

Edinburgh #17 Photo Courtesy of Tony Hellman Photography

Rated #4 Best Courses You Can Play In Iowa
-Golfweek Magazine 2014

Rather than stick their heads in the sand and quit, city fathers
did the right thing. Again! They brought Robert Trent Jones
II, the original designer, back to his creation to analyze
the condition of the golf course. Time, along with annual
maintenance budget cutbacks had taken their toll on this
once perfect course. They asked Jones for recommendations
and an estimated budget to return the course to pristine
condition. The city fathers went one step further; they
hired Golf Convergence a Denver based consulting firm to
analyze the entire golf course and clubhouse operation. After
a thorough review of all Twin Cities public golf operators,
the consultants determined that newer very upscale public
golf operations, like Rush Creek, The Legends Club,
StoneRidge and Troy Burne, had retained their market share
while average and below average public course continued
to lose money…. and players.
The consulting firm confirmed Jones’ recommendations
while Brooklyn Park’s financial people did some financial
gymnastics and found $2.5 million (in some unknown fund)
to complete the upgrade. All the sand bunkers on the course
were completely rebuilt. Some were reshaped and others
removed. Irrigation was improved on all greens and three of
the original greens were totally rebuilt. Five new tees were
added and mowing patterns were changed and believe it or
not over 30 trees* were removed.
As We anxiously await the sunrise of the 2015 golf season,
Edinburgh USA, with the refurbishing complete along with
a larger maintenance budget, should be placed high on the
must play list.
By the way, the consultants report also included improvements
to Girvan Grille and the parking lot. So take it from a golf
writer who has sampled much of the fare of this off-thebeaten-track dining spot, schedule a tee time later in the day
and stay for dinner.
*Tree removal will be discussed in my continuing story of
municipal golf renovation. Trees that once were saplings in
the early days have grown into a maintenance nightmare and
an obstacle that slowed down play.

5

27 Holes. 3 Courses. 1 Clear choice.

Brooks Golf Club is a public course with a private setting just south of
Spirit Lake on Hwy 71. Enjoy our bentgrass fairways and greens,
practice range, clubhouse, restaurant and lounge, and more.
1201 Brooks Park Drive, Okoboji IA
712-332-5011 or 800-204-0507 / brooksgolfclub.com

#7 Best Public Course In Wisconsin
-GolfWeek








Pete Dye designed course
18 hole, par 72 championship course
Bent grass tees, greens and fairways
5 sets of tee boxes for all abilities
Green fees starting at $34 w/cart
Stay & Play packages available
Just 21/2 hours from the Twin Cities in Hayward, WI

You’ll Be Hooked On Big Fish!

715-934-4770 • www.golfbigfish.com
14122 W True North Lane • Hayward, WI 54843


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