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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 10 2013

Lead architect talks potential Oxbow redesign

FARGO – It’s not going to happen next year and it may not happen in five years. Moreover, depending on the future of the Red River diversion, the overhaul of Oxbow (N.D.) Country Club may not ever happen.

But if it does, the architect of the Oxbow golf course redesign says all systems will be ready to roll.

“We’re very confident we can provide a great solution,” said Bruce Charlton, president and chief design officer for Robert Trent Jones II golf architectural firm.

The solution will only be needed if the long-talked about diversion and subsequent ring dike of the community of Oxbow ever does get approved. But the process has already advanced to the conceptual design phase, which in one drawing includes the creation of eight holes on a plot of farm land just south of the existing course.

One goal of the study has already been accomplished, Charlton said. It shows there is enough space within the ring dike to have an 18-hole course with a new clubhouse and practice area.

“Our charge was to see if we could do something applicable to the situation and convince people within the different authorities that the land given to us would work,” Charlton said. “We’ve been able to prove it so far.”

He said there has yet to be a cost estimate associated with the project because it is so early in the design phase.

“We will get into that when we roll up our sleeves and get into much more detail,” Charlton said.

He said one detail that will not be lost on golfers if the project ever does get completed is meshing the course with the levee. In other words, people on the outside of the ring dike will see a big levee, as much as 14- to 16-feet high in some spots.

The inside will have a different feel, Charlton said.

“You won’t know the levee exists,” he said. “On the golf side, we’ll blend it in so you don’t realize it’s there.”

The firm has done similar projects, such as the Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., a course that has a levy to protect it from the White River. The course website even touts the design, saying “a major levee holds back the water, but players never know unless they’re told.”

The “Concept A” of the Oxbow realignment shows holes 3 through 12 using existing holes. Current No. 15, for instance – the par 3 that requires a tee shot entirely over water – would be changed to No. 11. Of note, Hole No. 9 is on the other end of the course where the new clubhouse would be built.

That’s a “continuous 18” concept, which is non-existent around here but can be found at such historic courses like St. Andrews or Pebble Beach.

“And we’ve done other renderings where that might not be the case,” Charlton said. “What we’re doing in that concept is indicating the ability to stretch the course to all corners of the land. As we hone in on a plan, we may do something where No. 9 is not way out there.”

The “Concept A” also shows ponding near almost every hole. Charlton said that was meant to show where a possible pond could be placed using existing conditions. Other factors like storm water retention will need to be determined by engineering studies.

“We don’t know how much of that we will need,” he said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia