Golf courses in and around Grand Forks are waiting for favorable temperatures to hit the area before navigating a new set of guidelines to safely host customers amid coronavirus concerns.

The Grand Forks Country Club, meanwhile, has an extra hurdle to clear: Flood cleanup.

GFCC general manager Doug Iverson hopes lessons learned from previous floods help expedite this year's reopening process. Iverson, club workers and member volunteers have spent the past couple of days pumping water and squeegeeing the course.

The water that floods the GFCC is Cole Creek, which normally dumps into the Red River at the GFCC's Hole No. 17.

Iverson said Cole Creek collects dirty field runoff between Grand Forks and Northwood. When Cole Creek is backed up from emptying into the Red, Cole Creek's heavy silt is damaging to his golf course.

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Grand Forks Country Club workers and member volunteers use a squeegee during flood cleanup on the golf course on Thursday. Submitted photo.
Grand Forks Country Club workers and member volunteers use a squeegee during flood cleanup on the golf course on Thursday. Submitted photo.

"We used to just accept the terms and reality (of the flooding) and reseed," said Iverson, who has held his role since 2014. "Back then, it would be a slow summer until the end of July until you had quality playing conditions."

But Iverson said the GFCC now uses a Yamaha Rhino, a popular off-road vehicle, equipped with a floating blade.

"We found that with the blade, we could run it through fairways and tee boxes, and it didn't damage the turf," Iverson said. "We could clear thick silt. That's made a dramatic improvement in getting to a quality playing surface."

The Club is hopeful that the nature of this spring's flood helps speed up the cleanup.

"So far from what we've seen of the silt on the course, even by comparison to last year, is that it's significantly reduced," Iverson said. "Last year, the crest level stayed the same for about 10 days to two weeks. This year, it was basically 48 hours and started dropping. With this crest coming and going like that, we're seeing less cleanup. It's still hard work, but there's significantly reduced cleanup."

Iverson said the GFCC doesn't have any solid reopening dates set. The Club has what it considers high holes and low holes, and Iverson said the high 10 holes could open before last year's date of May 26.

"Optimistically, we could see May 1 for a limited course," Iverson said. "Realistically, we would hope to be open in some capacity May 10."

The Club's driving range is under water, but its putting green and practice hole are cleaned and ready.

"The stigma about the country club being flooded is that most people think about 2009 and that era, and that it'll be August before the club has nice conditions," Iverson said. "We found last year it's just not the case anymore. People can formulate their own opinions, but you can't really formulate a quality opinion until you get out here and see what it's like."

The Grand Forks Country Club's putting green (near), Hole No. 1 tee box (left) and Hole No. 10 tee box (right) sit freshly cleaned, just above flood waters. Submitted photo.
The Grand Forks Country Club's putting green (near), Hole No. 1 tee box (left) and Hole No. 10 tee box (right) sit freshly cleaned, just above flood waters. Submitted photo.