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Kenmare Country Club set to mark its 100th

North Dakota Tourism describes the Kenmare golf course as one of North Dakota’s oldest courses at 100 years old this year.

8/08/17 (Tue)

North Dakota Tourism describes the Kenmare golf course as one of North Dakota’s oldest courses at 100 years old this year.

In fact it was the first country club to be established in northwestern North Dakota on April 2, 1917. The only other course known to be older is the Lincoln Golf Course in Grand Forks which was established in 1909.

Kenmare Country Club President Shane Harris believes it saying, “we’re in the top three of the oldest courses in North Dakota.”

Harris said some things have obviously changed over the years, but the property hasn’t. It’s in the same location overlooking the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge and was established 35 years before the refuge.

“Some holes may have changed other than No. 2,” Harris said. “Some trees were planted in the 1970s, but it’s in the same spot.”

Another major change in the past was when the course switched from a sand-green course to grass greens.

Otherwise this progressive golf club has continued to entertain golfers as it always has.

Harris said it’s hard to put an exact history together, and he’s too young to remember a whole lot of the past.

But currently, he said things are going on to keep the course in top-notch shape so it continues to get used and enjoyed.

Call it customer service if you will.

“We redid the bar. It’s our most recent renovation,” Harris said. “It wasn’t a necessary change, but it was a change for the better.”

He added the family of John Odlund, who had been one of the oldest members of the club since the 1940s, donated $5,000 to have the bar renovated.

In addition, two new coolers were purchased to keep beverages colder and at an easier reach while tournaments are going on and the clubhouse gets busy.

Last year, the club spent $25,000 on a new greens mower that Harris said was much needed and now the executive board is looking at purchasing a tee and fringe mower that is much like the greens mower. He said the current tee and fringe mower is the oldest piece of equipment on the grounds.

The pump house has been completely renovated, according to Harris.

The existing pump remains in use, but all the plumbing and electrical has changed and now the watering of tees and greens takes about half the time it did before the renovation.

“We’re now looking at updating our sprinkler heads,” Harris said.

Also last year a new storage unit was built to store golf carts for the winter as well as other equipment.

Harris said that has made things a lot easier because in past years the golf carts were stored on a private farm.

“Last year we poured 400 feet of cart pads,” he said. “It’s nice to use them. There’s no dust. We’re always trying to do improvements. It’s better for everybody and it attracts more people.”

But Harris added a caveat that without the local charitable organization Vets Gaming, the renovations wouldn’t be possible.

“Vets Gaming has been a huge part of our success,” Harris said. “They’ve donated $100,000 since last fall and without them we wouldn’t be able to make our improvements.”

Harris also wanted to mention the volunteers who have a passion for their golf course. They’ve worked tirelessly to improve the links.

“We’ve had four work bees this year, otherwise we’d have to pay someone,” Harris said. “We’ve had as many as 30 people out here volunteering. It’s a big deal. That’s a lot of man hours. It’s tremendous.”

Harris played golf in high school for a couple of years and really enjoyed it.

A bigger memory for him, perhaps, is that his golfing transcends four generations.

“I remember coming out here with my dad and grandpa,” Harris said. “Now we’ve got three kids and we come out as often as we can and they all have their owns sets of clubs.”

Harris’ wife Amy is also deeply involved in making the course a better place. She operates the annual youth golf camp that is coming up on Aug. 17 and does a lot of behind-the-scenes work, as do many others, according to Harris.

“Others have volunteered their time and money too over the course of years,” he said. “Thanks to them, they’ve put in thousands of hours to make it what it is today.”

There are future plans as well, Harris added. Changes will be coming to the clubhouse sun room as well as obtaining bigger and better equipment as funding allows.

“We priced a computer system that can run every single sprinkler using an app on your phone,” Harris said. “It was $90,000 for the whole system. That’s a little out of reach now but it might be our grand scheme for the future.”

He said the interesting thing about that system is if a part of the course is shady and a part sunny, the system will adjust it’s watering to accommodate the sunny area which would require more water.

“The flexibility of it is huge,” Harris said. “It could conserve a lot of water. It’s a neat system, it’s just out of budget right now.”

Twenty-two people established the course on the same day that President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany on April 2, 1917.

Today, the country club has 43 singles, 29 couples, 11 families, 6 socials, 3 juniors and two lifetime members in Jim and Cyndy Jorgenson and Donald Gravesen.

Harris admitted it’s a unique course and a progressive clubhouse, but he said, leadership is always looking for new members who will discover this gem on the NorthDakota prairie.

And 100 years on, Harris said if he could ask the founding members a question, it would be “how did they get the land and where did they get the money to buy it. How did they arrive at this spot?”

To continue the centennial flavor, Harris is asking for anyone who has historical photos or information about the course to bring it to the centennial tournament on Aug. 19 and 20.

“We’ll display that Saturday night,” he said. “It will good, no matter how much or how little.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!