The Les Bolstad golf course gets ready for spring

Rising temperatures have staff busy preparing for another summer on the green.

Tiff Clements

Greg Jamieson didn’t need a thermometer or weather forecast to know area temperatures were on the rise last week.

“When it was warm, we were getting five calls an hour,” he said.

The PGA head professional at the Les Bolstad golf course said he was barraged with phone calls from anxious golfers wondering when the course was opening.

Jamieson and other staff at the University’s golf course are hard at work preparing greens and completing paperwork in the hopes that the public course, situated on Larpenteur Avenue just northwest of the University’s St. Paul campus, will open on or near the target date of April 7.

Jamieson said staff got a late start preparing for the golf season this year due to abrupt administrative changes and the departure of the course’s former manager.

He said remaining staff transitioned into new roles and things are running smoothly now.

David DuBord, PGA assistant professional, said the general public often doesn’t understand what goes into opening a course for business.

“This is our busiest time of the year,” he said, “with things like budgets, staffing and scheduling tournaments.”

Assistant Course Superintendent Brent Belanger, part of the team responsible for preparing the grounds, said planning for the 2007 season started at the end of last summer.

He said as soon as the course closed last fall, grounds crews began equipment maintenance and tree pruning.

Belanger said Ramsey County’s Sentence to Service crews often do some of the manual labor involved in preparing the links for play.

“In the spring we try to have them come out as many times as we can get them,” he said.

The crews are made up of low-risk criminal offenders who volunteer to fulfill community service hours in lieu of being incarcerated.

Belanger said when the crews of 10 to a dozen men help remove the tarps used to protect greens, they accomplish in less than one day what would take a two-person crew 10 times as long.

He said grounds preparation will heavily depend on the weather in the coming weeks.

“Rain is definitely a plus,” Beringer said. “We have frost in the ground right now and the rain will melt it.”

Alumnus Dennis Van Norman said he looks forward to teeing off at Les Bolstad soon.

He said he has been issued the first season pass three of the last four years.

“I think I was No. 3 one year,” he said.

Van Norman, a human resources consultant from Roseville, Minn., said he has been playing the course since he attended the University in the 1960s.

“I’ve been golfing there for 40 years,” he said, “I remember seeing Les Bolstad out there.”

Van Norman said he is looking forward to another season of early-morning tee times and returning to the “homey Cheers-like atmosphere.”

Jamieson said once the planning and preparation pays off, he and his staff can look forward to 40- to 80-hour work weeks.

“It kind of goes from one challenge to another when you get into the meat of the season,” he said.