The Les Bolstad Golf Course and its clubhouse are more than 80 years old. After years of use and disrepair, both need upgrades.
In a report released last month, a task force recommended changes to the course and its dysfunctional clubhouse that are estimated to cost about $7 million. University President Eric Kaler had set a $7.5 million limit for the project in September.
Based on the task force’s recommendations, a renovation is likely to be funded privately through donations.
A top priority for the golf course renovation is the improvement of course conditions within current property boundaries, the report said. The task force recommended installing a new irrigation system to replace the current 30-year-old system, resolving drainage issues that plague the course, rebuilding green complexes and resurfacing all tees, fairways and greens.
The repairs would cost between $3.9 and $4.9 million, according to the report.
An additional $2.06 million would be used to renovate the first floor of the clubhouse and enable the use of its second floor.
The estimated cost also included $655,200 for a new course maintenance and storage facility and $185,000 for a new cart storage facility.
The task force, which Kaler requested in the fall, was composed of seven members, including chair Allen Levine, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
The group met several times and worked with golf course stakeholders, including John Carlson and Michele Redman, coaches of the University’s men’s and women’s golf teams, respectively.
Redman said she met with the group a few times to discuss which areas of Les Bolstad needed the most attention. She said the course itself needs the most work.
“It’s not conducive to good conditions at all once July rolls around and we get a lot of heat,” she said.
The group also consulted with the Department of Recreational Sports, which manages the course and developed the original renovation plan.
The task force recommended the project be funded entirely by private fundraising. If donations and monetary gifts exceed $7.5 million, they would be used for course improvements.
The plan also allows the University to spend an additional $199,000 to fully renovate the clubhouse’s second floor.
The University of Minnesota Foundation and the Department of Recreational Sports will begin a feasibility study within the next month to determine the level of interest in supporting a renovation.
“At that point, once we see some dollars flowing in, then that’s when you start doing all the planning end of it,” Levine said.
There is community interest in supporting a renovation, Levine said.
“There are a lot of stakeholders, a lot of people who are interested in this golf course,” he said.
Levine said if the feasibility study shows that the project would not be able to be financed privately, the group would have to ask Kaler what the next step would be.
“At this point, one assumes that you’re going to do well enough to make this happen,” Levine said. “We’re optimistic.”
The task force recommended the University include the project in its Six-Year Capital Plan, the report said. If that happens, the group will likely meet again to prepare more specific recommendations for course improvements.
The Six-Year Capital Plan is typically released by the end of the spring semester, Levine said.
Redman said renovating Les Bolstad could boost the program’s recruiting abilities.
“It’s all going to be about fundraising,” she said, “and where the athletic department’s priorities are.”
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