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University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

U of M golf course is given a qualified nod

  • Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS
  • Star Tribune
  • September 20, 2012 - 11:25 PM

The University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course can survive, but its renovation will have to come with a much lower price tag.

In a memo sent to seven administrators Tuesday, U President Eric Kaler wrote: "Clearly the status quo is not sustainable, given the condition of the course and the clubhouse. However, I also believe that the current nearly $20 million preliminary renovation proposal is too costly and envisions activities that go well beyond our core mission competencies."

A new renovation proposal would have to "come in at no more that $7.5 million," according to the memo.

Last spring, the U's Department of Recreational Sports proposed a $19.5 million renovation for the 18-hole Falcon Heights course and driving range and its classic white clubhouse, which is now condemned. Kaler requested more detailed business and fundraising plans to determine whether the course was the best use for the property.

In his Tuesday memo, Kaler pointed out certain elements the proposal should include, such as ensuring the course can tolerate extreme weather and has a functioning clubhouse.

Al Levine, dean of College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, was assigned to lead the proposal committee. On Thursday, Levine said it is too early to comment on what the redesign may include. The deadline to submit the proposal is Dec. 1.

"The golf course has a lot of history, and we want to make sure it meets the needs of the university," Levine said.

The course, which dates to 1929, is too short to host college golf tournaments, and the university's teams don't use it much. For years, the course was run by the athletics department, but in 2009, recreational sports took it over, hoping to boost revenue and the number of students signing up for tee times.

The president's request for a proposal is the first hurdle in a long process. After the proposal is submitted, it will be reviewed by the university's Capital Oversight Committee. The committee will then consider it as part of the six-year capital plan.

There is still a chance that the renovations may not happen, but Levine said that is unlikely.

"There is always that possibility, but the president wants to do this and has made it a priority," he said.

David Okita, the U's golf club president, sent an e-mail Thursday morning to club members with the subject line "Les Bolstad has been Saved!"

"Everyone just hopes that the university will do the right thing and do a sufficient job with the renovation and make sure that it meets the needs to be able to maintain the facility well into the future," Okita said in an interview.

Club members, he said, have expressed much excitement over the announcement.

"The time for all this is yet to be determined," Okita wrote in his e-mail to club members. "But the good news is our golf course will be around for a long time to come!"

Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028

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