MICHIGAN, N.D. – In less than a year, the Michigan Duffers Club raised more than $200,000 to upgrade its greens and make other improvements to the golf course in the Nelson County town of 185 people.
The Duffers Club board last summer decided it needed to replace the artificial grass greens on the nine-hole course, which were second-hand when they were purchased in 1997 from the golf club in Mott, N.D. The board researched the cost of natural and artificial greens, and chose to install artificial ones because the golf course does not have a sprinkler system, said Maria Vasichek, Duffers Club board member.
The Michigan Duffers Club and Golf Course opened in 1958 when Oscar Bondy, with the help of volunteers, including Heine Milligan and Gamie Lamb, built three holes, according to the Michigan 1983 Centennial history book. Land later was donated later for two more holes, and eventually, four additional holes were added. The first clubhouse was a remodeled chicken house, the history book said.
Over the past 63 years, the Duffers Club has built a new clubhouse and annually hosts golf tournaments and men’s, women’s and youth nights.
The Duffers Club board purchased the new artificial greens, which include a skirting around them and an approach, from a XGrass Artificial Turf in Minneapolis at a cost of about $180,000. The Michigan golf course is the first in North Dakota to have the state-of--the-art greens, Vasichek said.
The Duffers Club raised money to pay for the greens and other improvements on the golf course through fundraisers, including selling greens for $20,000 per hole and half greens for $10,000. The full greens are marked with a sign that has the purchaser’s name on the tee box, and the purchasers of the half greens have two purchasers on the tee box. Jameson and Nathan Flom, owners of SSR Pump Company, a steel manufacturing and repair business in Michigan, made and donated the signs.
The Michigan Duffers Club also is sponsoring a memory garden fundraiser. Individuals who donate $1,000 have a granite plaque with a loved one’s name placed in a landscaped garden that was built in front of the clubhouse. So far, 24 people have purchased plaques, Vasichek said.
Scott Gilbertson, Michigan Duffers Club board president, didn’t expect to raise so much money so quickly, he said.
“We raised substantial donations from some people who don’t even golf. They just wanted to see this happen,” Gilbertson said. Residents of Michigan know that an attractive golf course will bring people to town, he said.
The course improvements also have resulted in a growth in Duffers Club membership, which now numbers well more than 100, Gilbertson said.
Meanwhile, about 80 men and women who made up 26 teams golfed in a tournament the Duffers Club held in early June.
“People from many different towns participated that day,” Vasichek said.
Besides the course improvements, the Duffers Club also is planning on teaching youth golf lessons on youth nights and has ladies’ beginning and intermediate golf lessons scheduled.
“That’s the ultimate goal – to bring people into town, to build up our membership. ... To get people to enjoy this little golf course,” Gilbertson said.