New era is teeing off at Maplewood's Keller Golf Course

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2014 - 8:39 PM

After 2 years of improvements, the historic Maplewood course will officially reopen Saturday.

Like most professional golfers in their rookie year, Arnold Palmer found 1955 to be a rocky one, pulling a travel trailer to each stop on the PGA tour with his new wife, Winnie, to save money.

Palmer, then 25, had finished 10th at the Masters (earning a princely sum of $696) but had also twice missed the cut or finished anywhere from sixth to 43rd in 14 tournaments when he arrived at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood that July for the St. Paul Open. He walked away that weekend with third-place money, providing a bit of encouragement at the start of a legendary career that would see him dubbed “the King.” Fond memories of that finish drew him back to Keller the next three years and again in 1965.

“The St. Paul Open was only the fifth tournament in which I won any prize money,” Palmer recalled in a letter now framed at Keller’s new clubhouse. “That third-place finish and $1,300 prize money was the largest paycheck I won to date and second only to the $2,400 I earned for winning the 1955 Canadian Open later that year.”

A witness to so much golf history since opening in 1929, Keller will embark on a new era of golf memories on Saturday with its official reopening. The 18-hole course, owned and operated by Ramsey County, had been closed the past 21 months as part of a $12.2 million renovation and upgrade, which included a completely rebuilt clubhouse that opened in February.

That makeover comes at a time when many cities and counties are looking to get out of the struggling golf business after a boom of building, and overbuilding, in the 1990s. The cachet Keller carries, and the special niche it enjoys, justifies that financial commitment, said Jon Oyanagi, the director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“The [county] commissioners do see it as an investment in the community. It’s not just about whether profits exceed revenues,” Oyanagi said, adding that the course and new clubhouse are now a valuable, year-round amenity for the community. “It brings economic development — there’s a lot of business transactions that take place here — and people get married here. It’s not just about the golf, they realize that.”

Oyanagi, who grew up in Maplewood and played at Keller as a kid, said he is pleased that the improvement project has not altered the classic character of a championship quality course that also appeals to everyday hackers and Palmer wannabes.

Just as Keller’s new clubhouse, which replaced the one designed by prominent black architect Clarence “Cap” Wigington, is a close replica of the original, the revamped course was not radically changed, said Richard Mandell, the course architect from Pinehurst, N.C.

“The history here at Keller, that will never change,” he said, adding that dozens of Keller patrons had a say in the makeover. “We’ve kept the holes in the same location, for the most part.”

The minimalist approach focused more on opening up the course where it needed to be, he said. For example — the venerable oak tree on the par-3 hole at No. 4, a Keller signature, is unchanged.

One noticeable change, however, is immediate: The first tee was moved to the north and east to accommodate a new pro shop, which replaces a Depression-era shack.

“It makes for a beautiful opening shot,” Mandell said. “It really sets the stage for the whole experience of what makes Keller so special, and that’s the land it lies on.”

 

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039

 

  • related content

  • Keller Golf Course’s new clubhouse, as seen from the 18th hole, opened in February. Now the rest of the Maplewood course will officially reopen Saturday.

  • Among the historic touches are these Arnold Palmer photos and a letter from the golf legend on his third-place finish at Keller in the 1955 St. Paul Open.

  • keller golf course grand opening

    Ramsey County is marking the reopening of Keller Golf Course with a day of activities for golfers and nongolfers.

    Where: Keller Golf Course, 2168 Maplewood Drive, Maplewood Events 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.: Shotgun golf events; for details, go to parks.co.ramsey.mn.us/golf/Pages/Keller-Grand-Reopening.aspx 10 a.m.-noon: Free instruction at the driving range for all ages; youth lessons from the First Tee of St. Paul; defeat Golfzilla with the Minnesota Section PGA, and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute adaptive golf instruction demonstration. 10 a.m.-noon: Contests and prizes at the short game practice area.

    11:30 a.m.: Ribbon-cutting ceremony at clubhouse followed by ceremonial tee shot. 12:30-1:45 p.m.: Guided course tours. Ongoing: Grilling by the clubhouse; clubhouse viewing.

    Jim Anderson

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Houston
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Colorado 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Carolina
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Montreal
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Canisius
Temple 6:00 PM
Delaware
FIU 6:00 PM
Long Island
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Richmond
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
South Florida
Ga Southern 6:00 PM
Stetson
Yale 6:00 PM
Vermont
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Virginia
Wright State 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Morgan State 6:30 PM
Rider
Idaho State 6:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oakland City 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Eureka 7:00 PM
Bradley
Appalachian St 7:00 PM
Charlotte
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Duke
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Coastal Carolina 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Montana State 7:30 PM
South Dakota
LSU 8:00 PM
UAB
Ohio 8:05 PM
Evansville
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 55 2nd Half 10:00
Marquette 65
Temple 4:00 PM
Howard
Southern Miss 4:00 PM
Ole Miss
UMBC 4:00 PM
Rider
Miami-Florida 5:00 PM
UCLA
St Mary-KS 5:00 PM
South Dakota
William & Mary 5:00 PM
Wofford
Troy 5:30 PM
Evansville
Loyola Marymount 6:00 PM
USC
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
Indiana-Southeast 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Tenn Temple 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
West Virginia St 6:00 PM
Radford
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Ball State 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Trine 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Tenn Tech 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Samford 7:00 PM
Tulane
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Ark-Little Rock 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
CS-Northridge 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Oklahoma St 8:00 PM
Weber State
Washington 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Cal Poly 8:00 PM
New Mexico
(10) Louisville 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close