The University of Minnesota golf course has been needing an upgrade for some time, but the question is: Is it worth it?
A $20-million plan has already been rejected as too expensive, but University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler doesn't want to let the course go either.
The land the course sits on has been part of the university grounds since the late 1920s and is the home of both the boys and girls golf teams -- but it's also prime real estate worth millions on its own. Still, Kaler wants to keep it around because he says it's a recreational asset and an educational tool.
The flags stake out the 18 holes on the Les Bolstad course, located just off Larpenteur Drive in Falcon Heights. Though golfers like Bruce Candlin and his buddies agree the course is playable, they admit it's no country club.
"It's got a lot of nice trees, price is right and it's very convenient," Candlin said.
Yet, the club house at the course is in such bad shape it's been condemned and is now only used for storage. So what is the U to do? Selling to a developer is always an option, and certainly a lucrative one. The assessed value was pegged at nearly $31 million.
However, Kaler made it clear that he wants to keep the course in a memo he sent out -- just not for the $20 million that was first suggested. Instead, he wants to see what the U can get for no more than $7.5 million.
Though few people know it, the university does a lot of research about types of grasses and fertilizers on the course -- but the money to renovate probably won't come from an educational grant. For now, it looks like fundraising would have to come up with the cash.
"I think it's a worthwhile investment," said David Okita, the U's men's golf president.
According to Okita, the course needs new irrigation and drainage systems -- as well as a clubhouse that can welcome golfers after a round.
"Possibly attract people for conventions and wedding receptions," he suggested. "Something quiet. Frankly, that would generate outside golf."
Kaler has asked a task force to come up with a plan by Dec. 1, but that doesn't mean the renovations will go forward straight away. Other planning processes and the bottom line need to factor into any possible timetable.