Anoka hopes to find greener pastures for its golf course

  • Article by: LORA PABST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2008 - 7:18 PM

With renovations and a plan to attract buisnesses, the city wants to revive Greenhaven as a golf headquarters.

The clubhouse at Anoka's Greenhaven Golf Course might have a new lease on life -- thanks to a major renovation project and plans to recruit golf-related businesses.

While many suburban golf courses have been pressured to close after business slowed, Anoka city officials aren't giving up on their course, even though it has had its share of troubles over the past few years. They are looking at plans to locate a fitness center, a golf training facility, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a daycare and a Minute Clinic in 5,500 square feet of open space in the clubhouse.

After the former golf course manager was charged in 2005 with stealing from the golf course pro shop, the city questioned what to do with the ailing operation. Now the course has a new general manager, Larry Norland, who says Greenhaven is poised for a comeback.

The golf industry hit a low point around 2002, he said, but the number of golf rounds at the course has been picking up. In 2006, Greenhaven's number of rounds increased between 6 and 7 percent. Last year, business remained steady around 33,000 rounds, Norland said.

"Even though the economy is going through a hiccup, I think the golf business ... is starting to come back," he said.

Greenhaven stuck it out while other golf course owners gave up and sold their land for housing developments, Norland said. Now that there is less competition, he said, he hopes the clubhouse project could turn the course into a north-metro golf headquarters.

"The City Council has been supportive of this facility and has encouraged us to find ways to better utilize it," he said. "We're just presenting them with the vision."

Anoka City Council members unanimously approved a $1.2 million infrastructure project for the 40,000-square-foot clubhouse last year. The project, which replaced old heating, cooling and lighting systems, was meant to save the course more than $76,000 a year in energy and maintenance costs.

The estimated energy savings of the project and the University of St. Thomas ending its lease of classroom space at Greenhaven gave the city a chance to reinvest in the clubhouse.

Now Greenhaven will begin looking for businesses interested in locating there, though a timeline hasn't been set.

Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist said Greenhaven needs nurturing to bring it back to its former status.

"This is maybe the first chance in 20 years that anyone has the ability to start afresh with Greenhaven," he said. "We've invested in these public facilities and it's nice that we don't have to think about closing it."

Lora Pabst • 612-673-4628

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