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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 10 2013

Renovation of Moorhead Country Club's back nine a welcomed change

Moorhead - The back nine at the Moorhead Country Club was built in the early 1970s. And like the TV shows of that era, it had a “Brady Bunch” feel to it.

Simple. Happy. Perhaps boring at times. It didn’t take a lot of golf thought to navigate the fairways and greens.

Thanks to a flood control project that has literally reinvented the course, the renovation took an outdated back-nine layout and put some character into it. It opened its doors to play last month and the reviews have been hot.

“It gives us more pizzazz,” said Moorhead head professional Larry Murphy. “We’ve been waiting for people to play it so we could ask them what they thought of it. And they say they love it.”

The project isn’t entirely finished. Hole No. 10 is in the midst of construction with an opening slated for next July. The sharp dogleg left will be softened and will be incorporated into a levee that will protect the west edge of the course from the Red River at a flood stage of 44 feet.

The $2.5 million project is being funded through a flood damage reduction grant from the Minnesota DNR. The city of Moorhead has already applied for full reimbursement of the funds, said Bob Zimmerman, Moorhead city engineer. It’s given the Country Club new life in terms of updating its layout.

The crowning achievement is holes 15 and 16, which take advantage of ponding to create challenging second and third shots on the par-5 15th and an island green on No. 16, which is being labeled as the course’s new signature hole.

It’s replacing the old par-3 15th, which is now No. 14 and remains unchanged.

“It’s harder, no doubt it’s harder,” Murphy said of the back nine. “It’s more exciting with the water.”

Exciting also comes in the form of getting rid of the cumbersome back-to-back par 5s of the old layout, which previously were holes 13 and 14. Old No. 13 was shortened to a par 4.

And the new No. 13 – which is still a par 5 along 18th Avenue North – has been modernized with three small ponds guarding a green that is shaped like the state of Minnesota. A little geographical advice: Stay away from the southern part of the state (the right side of the green), it’s a safer approach up by Bemidji (the left side of the green).

Overall, Murphy said golfers have told him they think it’s two to three shots tougher than the old layout.

Certainly, it has two to three times the charm.

“That’s exactly what we set out to do,” 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