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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published December 18 2011

Record temps give golfers rare round

LEONARD, N.D. – More than 100 golfers enjoyed one last round for 2011 here Sunday thanks to record-high temperatures.

Leonard Country Club manager Mike Pulczinski announced late last week that he was opening the nine-hole course after he saw the unseasonably warm forecast.

Pulczinski expected to only see members and friends, but golfers from the Fargo area and as far west as Carrington filled up the tee times.

“It seemed like spring almost,” Pulczinski said. “We had to actually turn people away, unfortunately, because we didn’t have any room.”

Leonard is 40 miles southwest of Fargo, which set a new record high of 55 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

The previous high of 50 was set in 1923 at Fargo’s Hector International Airport.

It looked more like spring than winter across Fargo as residents – many wearing shorts – got outside for a game of basketball or a bike ride.

Grand Forks also reported a record high Sunday.

The University of North Dakota reported a high of 50, breaking the record of 46 set in 1943. Grand Forks International Airport reported 51, breaking the record of 44 set in 1943.

Pulczinski doesn’t expect to open his golf course again this year, but he’s hesitant to say that too definitively.

“We already said that once this year,” Pulczinski said.

In South Dakota, Huron hit 60 degrees. Other South Dakota cities including Aberdeen and Mitchell came close to records as warm Pacific air blanketed the region.

In some cities, golf courses were open for business on Sunday. At Elmwood Golf Course in Sioux Falls, 260 groups played through.

“Clear blue skies, it's just perfect,” Kayelynn Bauer told KELO-TV.

It was the latest in the season the golf course had been open in at least a quarter century, course officials said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

The Associated Press contributed to this report