Bloomington’s city-owned Hyland Greens Golf and Learning Center could become Minnesota’s golf headquarters.
The city is exploring a partnership that would transfer operations of the course, revamped and redesigned, to the Minnesota PGA’s nonprofit foundation, PGA Reach. The concept envisions new buildings on the 60-acre site, which could house the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame and serve as a base for several area golf organizations.
The city and state PGA hope to formalize an agreement, likely a long-term lease, by the end of the year with the goal of opening the facility in 2022. The course and headquarters would be funded and financed by PGA Reach.
“This is about innovation and asking, ‘What does golf look like in 25 years?’ ” said Jeff Hintz, CEO of the Minnesota PGA, which includes all of Minnesota and North Dakota, most of South Dakota and a portion of western Wisconsin. “We see this as a living laboratory or research and development center for the game of golf.”
For Bloomington, the partnership offers a way to maintain and improve a public golf course while turning over operations to someone else. The City Council approved a memorandum of understanding in May.
Hyland Greens, a nine-hole, par-30 course, has been losing about $300,000 a year, said Ann Kattreh, Bloomington’s parks and recreation director. It opened in 1963 and has been owned by the city since 1974.
“I think it’s safe to say that without this potential partnership, the future of Hyland Greens golf course is in jeopardy,” Kattreh said. “It’s operating at a significant loss and has been for several years.”
Over the past five years, Hyland Greens has averaged about 18,000 to 20,000 rounds of golf annually, said Peter Kurvers, the course’s general manager and a PGA-certified golf professional.
The Minnesota PGA, based in Coon Rapids, has been looking for several years for a central metro location to build a headquarters with year-round programming, Hintz said.
Housing multiple organizations under one roof, he said, will allow for collaboration on ways to make the game more inclusive and accessible for players of all ages, races and abilities. The foundation aims to bring golf to youth, military veterans with disabilities and people of diverse backgrounds.
“Golf needs to look a lot more like we look as a community,” Hintz said. “There’s a lot that is being done and there are efforts there, but I would say we can do a lot more.”
‘It’s about the kids’
The new facility would be modeled after Golf House Tennessee Learning Center, which serves as a hub for Tennessee’s major golf organizations, hosts events and offers several education programs.
Redesigning smaller nine-hole courses to fit a variety of skill sets and appeal to a “time-crunched” society has become a trend, Kurvers said. Families can spend a couple of hours on the green rather than the four to five hours it often takes to play a full 18 holes.
The course, driving range and outdoor practice facilities would be designed by Nicklaus Design, an international golf course design firm founded by golf champion Jack Nicklaus. Buildings on site could provide classroom and event spaces as well as training areas that use the latest technology, Hintz said.
“If you think about the next generation of golfers, it’s the kids of today,” he said. “We have to ask how to attract a generation that has grown up with mobile devices and have interacted with screens all their life.”
Golf long has been known for what it doesn’t allow, Hintz said. The facility he envisions won’t be limited by those traditions, he said.
“It’s the responsibility of our generation today to help more people play the game we love,” he said. “That’s what this is about.”
So far, the reaction from the community has been positive, Kattreh and Hintz said.
“This would be a great opportunity for the entire area to benefit from a golf facility of this caliber,” Kattreh said. “We are focusing on the next decades of golf with the attempt of making this a unique golf experience.”