Les Bolstad renovation plan adopts academic vision

The U budgeted $7.5M to upgrade the course, which opened in the 1920s.

Golfer Ivo Masoev finishes his swing on the second hole of Les Bolstad Golf Course on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

Image by Amanda Snyder

Golfer Ivo Masoev finishes his swing on the second hole of Les Bolstad Golf Course on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

by Charlie Armitz

The University of Minnesota’s plan for a privately funded renovation to Les Bolstad Golf Course will adopt an academic  focus this summer.

The University has hired a third party to conduct a feasibility study for the renovation, which was included in the University’s recent Six-Year Capital Plan with a $7.5 million budget.

The study will help refine proposed changes to the course. Horticulture professor and project consultant Brian Horgan said he envisions a sustainable course that can serve a variety of purposes.

“This golf course will have a laboratory feel,” Horgan said. “It will have a multifunctional feel where athletics and research and teaching and outreach of information all kind of work together.”

Les Bolstad, which opened in the late 1920s, has been multifunctional for many years, but it needs repair. A University task force recommended several upgrades last December, including installing a new irrigation system and resurfacing all tees, fairways and greens.

The feasibility study should gauge how the golf industry feels about the project.

“I think it’s pretty common for any time you’re going to go out and do a private fundraising campaign to go and make sure that the public agrees with the direction the University is going,” Horgan said.

His vision right now is focused on incorporating the University’s academic mission into the course. He has emphasized using the course for agricultural research.

But Horgan added that the facility will function first as a golf course.

“We can’t create something where it goes beyond what a golf course is,” he said.

Alumni and the broader University community have given wide support to renovating Les Bolstad, according to the Six-Year Capital Plan. The University won’t receive state money for the project, so it will rely heavily on that community for funding.

About $4 million of the $7.5 million allotted for the renovation would fund course repairs, and about $2 million would be used to renovate the first floor of the clubhouse and enable the use of its second floor. Another $655,000 would fund the construction of a new maintenance and storage facility.

Gophers women’s golf coach Michele Redman said she’s most interested in the addition of an indoor hitting facility. The task force recommended in December that this facility be excluded from the $7.5 million budget but considered part of the overall plan for the property.

“Things are moving along OK on that side of it,” Redman said. “It’s something that’s on the top of our priority list as far as the men’s and women’s golf teams.”