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Casino golf course battles the elements

6/7/2004 - Golf

HANKINSON, N.D. -- Wind and rain are enemies of golfers. The
elements haven't been too kind to the new Dakota Winds golf course,
either.

Jeff Larsen, director of golf operations, estimates the air
often moves as fast as 50 mph on the course along Interstate 29
next to Dakota Magic Casino.

On Tuesday, the day the 27-hole course was to open, officials
were dealing with 6 inches of rain in two days.

"At one time it was an island green," Larsen said, pointing to
the 6th. "Not on purpose."

Larsen and course designer Joel Goldstrand say the course's
drainage capability, bolstered by several runoff ponds, is a
strength. But the course still had problems handling this week's
deluge.

"It's going to be a while before she dries out enough to do any
mowing, let alone play," Larsen said.

It is the most recent setback in what Larsen calls "one of the
toughest challenges I've had in my career."

Ground was broken on the $2 million project in 2002. Larsen,
whose past endeavors include Tom Lehman's GreyStone Golf Club in
Sauk Centre, Minn., joined the team in March 2003.

Since then, "basically everything" has had to be reseeded up
to five times for some tee boxes and greens because of wind or rain
damage.

"It's a tough environment to get going," Goldstrand said.

The course features native grasses, elevated tees and two groves
of trees in the center of the property.

"The property is elongated," said Goldstrand, a
Minneapolis-based designer with more than 70 courses to his credit.
"You don't feel like you're playing out in an open field."

With one additional green, nine extra tee boxes and 60 acres of
fairways -- twice the normal number -- the back nine is reversible.
The clubhouse will rotate the direction of play twice a week and
during the weekend, Larsen said.

He said he expects the course to be playable by this weekend.

Larsen takes the weather battles in stride.

"Mother Nature and I have to be, well, not in tune, but I have
got to be able to handle what she throws at me," he said.

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