Community reinvents Willow Creek GCBARNESVILLE, Minn. -- The red shag carpet, now worn, is a symbol of times that were good. The wood paneling is perhaps approaching 50 years old.
By: Jeff Kolpack, The Republican Eagle
BARNESVILLE, Minn. -- The red shag carpet, now worn, is a symbol of times that were good. The wood paneling is perhaps approaching 50 years old.
Drivers and fairway woods stored upstairs are actually made of wood -- not the modern composite products of today.
Nobody lives in the house that George Felde built in the early 1960s. Most golfers around Barnesville know the structure as the Willow Creek Golf Course clubhouse. Half of it is an addition that serves the course patrons.
Like many small-town courses, Willow Creek is trying to survive. In March, the Barnesville City Council approved a resolution dissolving the Barnesville Golf Course Management Board and shifting operations into the Parks Department.
Any assets were shifted into the Park Fund, according to city council meeting minutes.
"We're hoping the bleeding will stop a little bit," said Barnesville Mayor Fred Dahnke. "What happened over the course of time is they had some old equipment, repairs and things they had to do. It ended up costing."
Equipment like one of the tractor mowers that course superintendent Rick Nicklay said "should be in a museum somewhere."
Take a course tour with Nicklay and he'll point out the four bridges that cross Whiskey Creek that need constant attention. Like water all over the Midwest, the creek is up partially because water from nearby Grove Lake is being drained.
Nicklay is retired from the Minnesota State Moorhead buildings and grounds department. He's been overseeing the course for four years, and it's not easy.
The sandy-like soil requires water. A lot of water. The course used to pump water from the creek, but silt would too many times clog the sprinkler system.
So the course went to a deep water well that can pump 350 gallons per minute at 100 pounds of pressure.
Felde designed and built the course that opened in 1964. It was privately owned for a couple of decades. Facing a shut down, a group from the Barnesville area formed a board and bought it in the late 1980s.
"And they gave the property to the city of Barnesville," Nicklay said.
Now the city is running the course. Dahnke said it turned a small profit last year.
But he said the course also brings a value that can't be measured in dollars.
"People here are steadfast about having a course," Dahnke said. "It's unique a city like this has it, not many do. It's something I've been told we need to attract people. People want that so the city is pretty much behind it."
The nine holes is a par 36. It includes a practice range and holes well-positioned with the winding creek. For instance, don't go long on your approach shot to the No. 2 green.
It's short at 5,540 yards from the blue tees. The toughest holes are 5 and 8.
The course was a source of pride for the high school this year. The Barnesville girls team reached the Minnesota Class A state tournament this past season and three boys reached the Class A individual state tourney.
"There are a lot of kids out there," Dahnke said of Willow Creek.
A lot of kids who can thank George Felde for building his house on his golf course.
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