South Dakota's Minnehaha CC Undergoing Renovations

Minnehaha Country Club, a storied private club in Sioux Falls, S.D., that skirts the Big Sioux River and once such welcomed legendary golfers as Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, will reopen this spring following a major restoration and redesign of its classic golf course.

Due to the potential for flooding, the city raised and widened an existing levee, appropriating four acres of the golf course for the civil engineering project. As the elevation of the diversion channel along the river directly affected three holes, the city's earthworks had a ripple effect on the entire layout, prompting the club to bring in Graham Marsh Golf Design, an Australia-based architecture firm with an office in Sioux Falls, to revamp the course.

Founded in 1905, Minnehaha Country Club's golf course was designed by William B. Langford and Theodore J. Moreau in 1922. The holes, occupying rolling terrain framed by groves of oak, ash, maple and Colorado spruce, is bisected by a meandering creek that provides numerous strategic options on the compact site.

Mark Amundson, director of operations and marketing for Graham Marsh Golf Design in the U.S., explained that the impact of the dike's expansion mandated that holes directly along the levee be changed. "Those holes - 14, 15 and 16 - needed to be massaged and redone in order to serve as good golf holes," he said. He added that the club's decision to enhance the overall quality of the golf course resulted in major changes to more than half the holes to create a uniform look.

"It's essentially a renovation," Amundson said. "We took one hole out of play (the fourth) and built one new hole, the 158-yard eighth, which gave the club something it didn't have, a par-3 that runs east. We added 50 yards and created a subtle dogleg at the previously straightaway par-5 fifth. We also shortened the 15th to create a risk-reward, 'driveable' par-4. Except for No. 8, all the holes remain in the same corridors as before. We tried to create consistency in the landforms and bunkering styles. We added 10 bunkers to better defend driving zones, renovated an additional 24 bunkers, and built 16 new tee decks." The revised greens, he added, "reflect the shape and style of what was already there."

Once the course is healed and grown in by late May, when the layout is scheduled to reopen, Amundson said the members will find a golf course "that's more challenging, better balanced and more fun to play." He added, "This is the first time Graham and I have worked with Duininck Golf. They did a great job and were easy to work with. The entire crew was really good."

Superintendent David Swift said course construction began in September, 2010. "We worked for nine weeks and will have some minor follow-up work to do this spring," he said, noting that most of the fairways were sodded. Duininck Golf, Minnesota-based golf construction firm, was "fantastic" to work with, said Swift, who worked previously at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc., site of the 2010 PGA Championship.

"They're very experienced," Swift added. "The crew brought their experience to bear on every facet of the renovation," notably at the 14th hole, which was prone to flooding and where the construction team raised the level of the fairway four feet to mitigate the problem.

James E. Moore, a member of the club's board of directors, said, "We were very impressed with Duininck Golf. Duininck proved to be reliable and professional in every sense. The work was completed on time, everyone on site was flexible and easy to work with and, having added work to the project after it began, we think we got more done than we reasonably could have expected. I would confidently recommend Duininck Golf to anyone."

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