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Pomme de Terre Golf Club to open Monday for second season

After a short opening season, the publically-owned Pomme de Terre Golf Club will open Monday for a second year.

MORRIS, Minn. - A year has made a big difference at the Pomme de Terre Golf Club.

After the club was put up for sale last February, it wasn't clear whether when or if the course would reopen. A public sale for the course was arranged, but the late final purchase date and bad weather kept the course closed until the end of April.

This year, thanks to a mild winter and unseasonably warm temperatures, the club and range will open for business on Monday. Over the season, the five-member co-op board and volunteer plan to make improvements to the course that will continue to make the Pomme de Terre Golf Club a destination course for golfers around the state.

The first year of public ownership was a mix of challenges and successes, said Doug Stahman, president of the Pomme de Terre Gold Club Board of Directors.

Rain early in the season shut down holes across the course periodically and permanently destroyed the grass in a number of places, frustrating those trying to play the course.

"Some of the effects lasted the whole summer. Even though the water was gone, we still had those effects that limited our golfing ability," said Stahman.

One of the board's goals during the first season of ownership was to control expenses, said Stahman. By eliminating a full-time, year-round employee and relying heavily on volunteers to get work done, the board was able to cut back costs.

As a result, the club's expenses were down 36 percent from 2010, and 27 percent lower than the 2011 budget forecast at the end of the year. The club operated at a slight loss for the year, but Stahman said the loss was expected.

Stahman said the course is also expecting more money to come in from club memberships this season. Last year, the board lost between $50,000 and $60,000 by honoring 132 people who were in the second year of a two-year membership deal offered by the previous owners.

One of the club's biggest successes throughout the year was the community support and coming together to purchase the course.

"It all came together so well, it was crazy, really," said Stahman. The club now has 274 shareholders, including many who are not active golfers but who see the value of having a course in the area.

"You see lots of business in town, and when they try to attract talent they advertise the fact that we have an 18-hole golf course in town," said Stahman. "It's important for them to have that kind of activity."

This year, in an effort to focus on younger golfers, the club has added two new membership packages - a junior membership for a single person under 26 and a youth membership for a single person under 18. They are also offering a membership upgrade bonus and discounts for new members.

Going into the second season of ownership, the board hopes to continue to make course improvements and make sure the course is profitable. Golfers this season will see all new golf carts that should result in a 40 to 50 percent fuel savings over the year, said Stahman.

The board is also planning to adopt a more formalized volunteer process to harness the energy of the club members and shareholders who are interested in helping out.

The club is planning a formal kick-off to the 2012 golf season the weekend of the Masters - April 7 and 8 - which will include a Saturday afternoon euchre tournament, a chipping contest, golf tips from club pro Tom Legate and a raffle for an annual cart lease.

There is also a scheduled annual meeting for shareholders on Tuesday, April 21 at 7 p.m. at the course clubhouse. More information is available online at