The River Mild
Aaron Porter and his crew.
The Fargo Country Club finally caught a break. An uncharacteristically dry weather pattern throughout the winter and spring tamed the Red River, which in 2011 swelled up to 38.6 feet — the fourth-highest level on record. With the river flowing within its banks this year, the 18-hole course was able to host golfers on March 21 — the earliest date since the first nine opened in 1916.
“We recovered from this winter without flooding or restoration, and had a great, great spring. In June, we were in the best shape since I arrived in 2008. This place is going to be pretty nice in August,” says Fargo Country Club Grounds Superintendent Aaron Porter.
Making it through June without a Midwest monsoon is the key, says Porter. “It’s usually that second or third week in June where we just get hammered. When it rains and rains and rains, it goes right to the Red River, which flows right to me,” he adds.
Polishing the Edges
Rather than operating in emergency rehabilitation mode, Porter and his crew were able to facilitate a normal maintenance plan in preparation for the 2012 Bobcat North Dakota State Open. While performing some necessary cleanup from the previous year, the focus turned to “polishing up the edges” with landscaping projects. Those included building some retaining walls and flower beds, as well as pruning trees and removing dead cane and weakened vegetation along the river bank.
Porter says the crew has recently used its Bobcat T650 track loader extensively, seeding the borders of the course’s newly paved cart paths.
"We just want to maintain holes that are in excellent condition, and give Bobcat and the players a product they'll be impressed with," says Aaron Porter.
Retooling on the River
Other notable projects for golfers following last year’s event involved completing bunker renovations to holes 3 through 9 and the installation of premium white sand. Holes 1 and 2 were retooled, and the crew re-lengthened some of the lower nine, including numbers 14, 17 and 18, which had been shortened to par 3 holes after being submerged for more than a month in the spring of 2011. Their pins were increased to their original distances as pars 4, 5 and 4, respectively.
“They’re in phenomenal shape now — no different now than any other hole on the course,” Porter says. Porter also is pleased to have consistency in his staff this year. “I’ve only had to hire two new employees, which is really remarkable in this business, because I deal with a lot of college kids in the summer. “Everybody’s seasoned. They know what they’re doing,” Porter says. His staff totals 25, including himself, and he believes it’s one of the best groups he’s ever had in his 14-year career.
“We just want to maintain holes that are in excellent condition, and give Bobcat and the players a product they’ll be impressed with,” says Porter.