The closed Ray Richards Golf Course may be revived, but UND also is investigating how the land can be used for drone activity as well.
The State Board of Higher Education planned to discuss selling the 70-plus acres, pending legislative approval to create a permanent endowment of $4.1 million for the school's golf program. But UND President Mark Kennedy told the Herald Tuesday the school wants time to find a way to honor the wishes of the original donor, UND alumnus Ray Richards. The university also plans to investigate whether it could reopen the nine-hole golf course and use it for unmanned aircraft, he said.
"We're considering a path where the sale doesn't happen," Kennedy said. "We have not made that final decision. We're just pushing the pause button, and the result of this deliberations might be that we don't sell it and we put it back into the golf course."
An SBHE committee gave preliminary approval last week to allow UND to sell the former nine-hole golf course that was closed in 2016. An agenda for the SBHE Thursday meeting listed a proposal to begin work to make the sale, but UND wants the board to pull the item from consideration, Kennedy said.
The board would have to vote to table the matter Thursday before it is pulled from the agenda.
The course was closed because it was “basically breaking even,” UND spokesman Peter Johnson said.
UND could use it for other uses, including drone racing and cross-country, according to an article in the UND Today blog.
The university wants to explore whether the land is suitable for multiple uses that align with the academic mission of UND, Kennedy said. Breaking even with a golf course was "not central to the mission of the university," which is part of the reason the school considered selling the land, he said.
"But if it can be a dual-use ... that ties both into the academic mission of the university, as well as engages more directly to many of our students that have been more active in that type of activity, then it could make more sense for us," he said of reopening the land as a nine-hole course and for drone use.
Kennedy said many of the SBHE members the school has spoken with are OK with "putting the pause" on the sale. Students also have suggested using the course for other activities, he said.
The UND men's golf program was cut in 2016 but was re-established through private funding. They practice at King's Walk Golf Course.