New England on course for another round of golf

Golf. Something the city of New England has been without for quite some time.

Golf Scorecard

Posted May 16, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Golf. Something the city of New England has been without for quite some time. Started in the 1960s, the New England Golf Association slowly dissolved over the course of time and has been inactive for the majority of the last decade. Local resident and City Councilman Chris Fitterer leads a group hoping to revive the sport.

The clubhouse is still in use today, and the course still stands. But the maintenance is almost nonexistent, and anybody adventurous enough to take a swing out there can do so free of charge.

The effort to resurrect golf in New England was started about five to ten years ago, according to Fetterer, but the association didn’t have the water rights to the area. The late Glenn Geise changed that when he was successful in gaining the rights back from the state of North Dakota. Now they must use them or lose them.

After a year and a half working on the project, Fitterer and his group have made huge strides. The project is both already designed, and bid out by local Schwartz Construction and will be roughly a $500,000 project, and at this point will only include improvements to
the course itself.

“The clubhouse is existing, it would be just redoing the course,” Fitterer said.

Among the improvements? Irrigation. Irrigating the course is going to allow them to convert the previously oiled sand greens to regular grass greens.

The association will also be redoing the tee boxes and adding two to each hole. The course layout will stay close to the same according to Fitterer, but there will be some small changes.

The course will stay at nine holes and will be a Par 36. Expansion is not really feasible at this point due to land constraints. The land that the course currently occupies is owned by the city but leased out to the New England Golf Association.

Outside of the initial efforts for revamping the course, Fitterer also said the association would eventually be working on acquiring golf carts, a luxury previously unavailable to golfers.

At this point in the process the association is trying to arrange financing. Fitterer and the association will be applying for a Slope Electric Rural Development Land Grant. A meeting on May 22 will be the first step in that process. Other efforts will be made to raise funds, but Fitterer said right now nothing is planned, but there will be more information mailed out to the community.

“We are going to be sending out mass mailings to show what’s going on and for sponsorships and donation,” Fitterer said.

The New England Golf Association will also be forming into a 5013c non-profit entity.

By forming a 5013c they can offer potential donators a tax deduction. The association is not trying to make money, they’re just trying to bring golf back to New England.

Fitterer thinks there is considerable interest, and not just in the city of New England. When asked if he could expect traffic to filter from Dickinson, “absolutely” Fitterer said.

Along with the casual player, the association will try to bring back a weekly tradition lost since the course faded and restart the weekly league.

“We’re going to try to bring back our league nights,” Fitterer said.

If the association can find the funding, Fitterer is hoping to start construction “a.s.a.p.” If they can get construction started in June, which would be the hope of Fitterer, they can seed in September.

Progressing by that timeline, they will be ready for golfers to tee off by June 2015 and still have allowed enough time for the grass to get rooted firmly.

Fitterer has only had casual conversations with potential donators and sponsors, but he is already very encouraged with the responses he has received so far.

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