‘Dead’ golf course gets city to actCalling the tee boxes and greens “unplayable” and “un-puttable,” officials closed nine of the 18 holes at the city-owned Lakeview National Golf Course last week. On Monday, the Two Harbors City Council voted to hire a turf specialist to inspect the course and report on its condition.
Calling the tee boxes and greens “unplayable” and “un-puttable,” officials closed nine of the 18 holes at the city-owned Lakeview National Golf Course last week. On Monday, the Two Harbors City Council voted to hire a turf specialist to inspect the course and report on its condition. The resolution also calls for the withholding of contract payments to course manager Kyle Ness and Associates.
Ness said it wasn’t in his “best interest” to talk about his dealings with the city but did say that nine holes in the “upper course” have been closed. Those are the newer holes formed when the course was expanded to 18 holes. “That’s a fact,” Ness said of the closures. “It’s the way it’s going to be.” He said the course obviously “needs some attention.”
City council member Jason Kuettel on Monday suggested the council bring in the turf consultant. “We have to act, and act soon,” he said. He said the city has a right under the management contract to make the move and that the cost of the consultant would come out of payments to Ness.
It is estimated there is $50,000 yet to be paid to the course management team. The city expects to pay $3,000 to $5,000 for the consultation. It hired Jud Crist, the superintendent of public golf courses in Duluth. Crist has already been on the course, Ness said, and the manager was set to hire him for a full analysis before the city council action Monday.
The original nine holes at Lakeview are clay based, meaning they hold moisture better, council members said. The new holes are sand-based and look starved for moisture as the tee boxes and greens have large swaths of nothing but sand. They’re “dead,” Kuettel said, and embarrassing for a course that should be a jewel in the area. “I wouldn’t want people from out of town playing those holes.”
Kuettel and others, including Ness, have no doubt the course can be fixed and be playable again next year.
The city’s contract with Ness runs through 2011. It still owes for the expansion and improvements on the course, about $600,000 on a bond term set to expire in 2015.
Ness was hired in 2009 after a $2.75 million deal to sell the course fell through in 2007 and the course manager was let go. The city has been making improvements at the course ever since but has struggled to make the venture pay off for taxpayers.
The course contract calls for Ness to bring in $180,000 in greens fees a season. Any extra revenue past $190,000 brings a bonus to the management team. Council members said they haven’t reached the minimal mark yet.
Council members said there has been tension between Ness and his partner, course superintendent Nate VanSanten, to add to the turf frustration. They, nor Ness, would elaborate. Council members will meet with the managers at 5 p.m. Monday at city hall in a public meeting.
Kuettel said finding out what’s wrong on the course “now” is vital because the window to make fixes before winter is closing. “I think the city should be in control.”