The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

North Dakota golf fans eager for major pro tournament; Fargo course eyes redesign by Lehman

  • Print

FARGO, N.D. - North Dakota has the most golf courses per capita in the nation, its tourism department boasts. But what North Dakota doesn't have is a major professional golf tournament, and some people believe it's time to pursue the idea.

Golf enthusiasts have watched other Midwest cities of greater and lesser sizes host the U.S. Senior Open and wonder what it would take for Fargo to land the event. Others want to bring home Amy Anderson, a former North Dakota State University golfer and LPGA Tour rookie.

"I've said this before: In my opinion this would be a great town to have some sort of a tour event, whether it's a senior open or some type of ladies event," said Greg McCullough, the head golf professional at Edgewood, a public course.

Some members of the Fargo Country Club also are interested in bringing a major to the course, which has a United States Golf Association national event on its resume, are interested in bringing a major to the course. But that could happen only if the club solves recent flooding problems.

Enter former British Open champion Tom Lehman, a native of nearby Alexandria, Minnesota, who has played several amateur tournaments in the Fargo area. He has submitted blueprints to redesign and flood-proof the course. The club is considering those plans.

"Certainly, to have Tom Lehman's name attached to a facility, that validates a golf course and gives it instant credibility," Fargo Country Club pro Mark Johnson said.

The USGA, which puts on the U.S. Senior Open and Women's Open, has taken to markets that don't fit the definition of a major metropolitan centre and don't have professional sports teams. And it loves the Midwest, with the Senior Open being held in Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin over the last 10 years.

"The formula has worked pretty well since the U.S. Senior Open went to Des Moines in 1999," USGA spokesman Brian DePasquale said.

DePasquale said the organization looks at three primary criteria for the Senior Open: the quality of the course, the commitment of the club's members and community and corporate support.

The Omaha Country Club excelled at the latter of those criteria last year in hosting the Senior Open, breaking the record for corporate sponsors and coming in second in the tournament's history for ticket sales, head professional Tony Pesavento said.

"We were able to recruit 3,500 volunteers in a couple of weeks. We just have a very healthy economy in Omaha and great corporate support," he said of the city that is home to Berkshire Hathaway. Omaha raised close to $6 million from corporate sponsors.

The initial planning to bring the Senior Open to Omaha began about seven years before July 2013 event, Pesavento said. Representatives from the USGA toured the city and the club, got a feel for the corporate sponsorship and extended the offer.

"We were lucky. We hadn't hosted any of the smaller things that typically you have to do to be considered," Pesavento said.

Steve Saxlund, director of sports for the Fargo-Moorhead Athletic Commission, said $6 million is a lofty fundraising goal, but there are a number of "big hitters" in the area who love golf. North Dakota's economy is robust, with the smallest unemployment rate of any state in the country and the highest personal income growth among all states in 2013.

"You would have a lot of big names coming here," Saxlund said, referring to golfers such as Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson, all of whom played in Omaha. "It would be easy for us to promote."

Jon Davis, the Omaha Country Club's general manager, said Lehman would be a good ally for Fargo.

"Hey, it's about dreaming big," Davis said. "Anyone can call and invite the USGA up there, but it helps to know a few people."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


How surpised are you by the Bombers’ 4-1 start to the season?

View Results

Ads by Google