Dakota Trails GC has had artificial-turf greens since the late 1990s, but has fundraised more than $200,000 in the past year through the sale of gun calendars and donations from individuals and local businesses to make the switch to natural grass. Another course in the state may take the old greens after they’re removed.
The greens at Dakota Trails Golf Course will be going natural later this year, reported The Daily Republic of Mitchell, S.D., after the Armour, S.D. property that was formerly known as Lakeview Golf Club replaces artificial-turf greens that have been in place at the course since the late 1990s.
Dakota Trails GC has fundraised more than $200,000 in the past year to pay for the installation of natural-grass greens on its nine-hole course, The Daily Republic reported. Last fall, C&RB reported on the initiative that was launched as part of the club’s rebranding and repositioning efforts (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/10/22/lakeview-gc-raises-funds-to-install-natural-grass-greens/)
“The fundraising has gone as well as we could’ve ever hoped,” Brian Vilhauer, President of the Dakota Trails Board of Directors, told The Daily Republic. “We’re selling gun calendars, which has turned out to be a great fundraiser for us. We’ve had a lot of local businesses and individuals step up with good amounts of money, so it’s going well.”
The golf course’s Facebook page has been busy with weekly gun drawings and other fundraising auctions, The Daily Republic reported, and the strong fundraising effort has allowed the course to move forward with construction ahead of schedule. Originally, Dakota Trails planned for August as the start date for construction, but Vilhauer said a contractor has already been at the course for a week, moving trees around.
“We are getting started a couple of weeks earlier than we thought, so we should get a really good grow-in this fall,” Vilhauer said. “[The new greens] should be ready in the spring.”
With the construction process starting, Vilhauer said the Dakota Trails course will officially close on July 14, The Daily Republic reported. Members of the club will help to complete the demolition process, which will involve peeling off the carpet-turf greens in a way that they won’t be damaged. That’s because Tri-Del Golf Course in Delmont, S.D., one of the few other courses in the state with artificial-turf greens, has expressed interest in taking Dakota Trails’ old greens, Vilhauer told The Daily Republic.
Michael Plooster, Dakota Trails GC’s Treasurer, told The Daily Republic that the “grass green” project, which started in 2014 with a committee study of its feasability, has been a long and grueling road at times, but that all the hard work will pay off once the course is completed.
“It’s been a busy year, and I would say we are about at 70 percent of the funds raised,” Plooster said. “It’s really exciting, and everyone is really pumped about it.”
The course, which is tucked against Corsica Lake near the Douglas County Recreation Area, has hired a greenskeeper who will work with the contractor all year to learn how to maintain the greens.
Both Plooster and Vilhauer told The Daily Republic that the course has seen steady use throughout the spring and summer. “All the leagues are pretty much full, and we’ve had a tournament almost every weekend,” Plooster said. “We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on the changes. I think everyone is ready to get rid of the artificial greens and get grass greens.”
Currently, the par-36 course plays at 2,553 yards, The Daily Republic reported, but it will be lengthened by about 100 yards when all of the greens-conversion work is complete. The new course will also include a brand-new, 148-yard par-3 hole that will hit across a ravine from an elevated tee box. Another par-4 hole will be lengthened by about 50 yards and a dogleg to the right will be added, The Daily Republic reported.
“Our course layout is really good and stacks well,” Vilhauer said. “We’ve combined our fun layout with grass greens, and I think there’s going to be a lot more walk-up traffic. In my opinion, there’s quite a bit of buzz from people wondering about what we’re doing out here.”
Vilhauer said that he hopes the buzz about the course, which has a history that dates back more than 70 years, will also equate to higher membership numbers in the future. The grass greens will also allow the course to be available to local high school golf teamsand make it a potential site for tournaments, The Daily Republic reported.
“It’s going to be huge for us and the surrounding communities,” Plooster added. “It’s a unique golf course, right by the lake. We’ve had a lot of guys over the years who have put forth a lot of time and effort to make the course what it is now.”
The course hopes to have its grand re-opening by the middle of May next year, Plooster said, but it will continue to raise money until $250,000 has been reached.
“Until we hit our mark, we’ll continue to raise funds,” he said. “But we’re off to a pretty good start.”