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'Ambitious' plan for Lakeview Golf Course renovation in Mitchell goes into place

Plans call for up to eight phases of renovations and construction, including new short course and putting course

LakeviewGCflag.jpg
The flag at the 11th green at Lakeview Golf Course in Mitchell is pictured during a recent round. The city's master plan for the course calls for five holes on the course's back nine to be renovated, starting at No. 11. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Lakeview Golf Course has a master plan for its future and it has some ambitious goals to guide them in the coming years.

The goal is to find the golf course sweet spot that so much of the golf industry is balancing: how to make the course playable for golfers of all ages, while continuing to make it challenging to draw competitive tournaments and provide a test for skilled golfers.

That means on every hole of the course, Lakeview plans to build new forward tees. The study from the Golf and Cemetery Board and consultant Kevin Norby, of Minnesota-based Norby Golf Course Design, found that Mitchell has one of the longest courses from the forward, or red tees, in the state of South Dakota. Currently, it plays at a length of 5,688 yards but the addition of new tees would create a 4,690-yard course for beginners and less-skilled players.

The master plan was presented Monday by Mitchell Golf and Cemetery Director Jason Gunnare to the Mitchell City Council, who did not have to vote on the presentation, which was informational in nature. The plan has eight phases of varying costs, and if all phases were completed, a projected cost was estimated at $3.55 million. The plan will guide the golf course’s capital requests over the next 10 years, Gunnare said.

Lakeview GC renovation plans by Marcus Traxler on Scribd

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Norby has been involved in a number of South Dakota projects, including renovations at Elmwood Golf Course and Bakker Crossing Golf Course, both in Sioux Falls, and master planning at Brookings Country Club.

“We want to make the course more playable for all levels, and make it more challenging for the better golfers,” Gunnare said. “The red tees are historically known as the women’s tees but it’s important to have it better suited to ability.”

Among the most ambitious goals for the long-term: redevelop the driving range with new hitting stations and targets, create a three-hole short course loop that could potentially be expanded someday to 11 holes and build a standalone 32,000-square foot Himalayas putting course on the site of the former lawn bowling area.

The goal, Gunnare said Monday, is to continue the momentum that the course and the game of golf has seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, when the outdoor, socially distanced sport has seen a renaissance of players old and new. Lakeview has nearly 600 members this year, he said. The short course and putting course — which would have large mounds and humps with holes that could be changed throughout the year — would provide opportunities for additional golfers to play on nights and weekends without a tee time.

“The golf course wants to encourage new golfers,” Gunnare said. “We’ve had a very good year, and we would like to continue with that. one of the benefits of COVID is we’ve seen a surge in new golfers and people who haven’t golfed for a long time are coming back to the game.”

Those projects are the most expensive, at a cost of $745,000 for the driving range renovation and three-hole short course, and $678,000 for the putting course and eight additional short-course holes.

Among the other long-term changes on the plan for Lakeview in phases 2-4:

  • Removing and relocating many cart paths to widen fairways and add bunkers, and thin the unhealthy and undesirable trees.

  • Realign the par-4 11th hole and move the green complex to the south to where the current 12th tee box is located.

  • Remove the current par-3 12th hole, which plays uphill at 150-170 yards and build a new par-4 12th hole that will play from 310 to 365 yards.

  • Build a new pond north of the current 13th hole for drainage purposes, which would be reconstructed.

  • Build a new par-3 14th hole, which would play about 160 yards and replace the par-3 taken away by removing the 12th hole. The change would also mean the par-5 15th hole would be shortened to a par-4 of 385 to 455 yards, and make the course’s par 71, instead of the current 72.

Phases 5 and 6 would include relocating the No. 7 green to protect it from the nearby 8th hole and reconstruct the green at No. 8. Gunnare said the first five phases of the project are the highest priority.
“There needs to be a level of commitment on the city’s side, not in spending a certain amount of money but that you agree in the direction that we’re going. … There needs to be some direction, so we know where to go.”

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City Council members were generally supportive of what was in the master plan.

“There are some ambitious ideas in the plan, but if we don’t make the plan and put it out there, we’ll never make any progress,” said City Council member Steve Rice. “There’s some exciting things that can be done out there to improve the playability and the pace of play.”

“I like a lot of this plan. ... If we don’t invest in the jewel that we have, it will just be another golf course,” Council member Jeff Smith said.

Gunnare said the goal will be for the first phase to be conducted in 2022 with tree work and tee boxes, although how much can be done will depend on the city’s budgeting process. He said some of the work could be done over the winter seasons and the goal would be to have the course remain open throughout any renovations.

Related Topics: GOLF
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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