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Expansion of city golf course underway

Posted 8/05/15 (Wed)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

As many golfers know, plans have been in place for the past several years to transform Watford City’s Fox Hills Golf Course & Country Club from the nine-hole course it is today, into a top-notch 18-hole course with a state-of-the-art practice facility.
“We aren’t meeting the demand,” says Charles Chandler III, head golf professional and director at the Fox Hills Golf Course. “We’ve outgrown our course. Our goal here is to really provide the best quality of service to the community.”
According to Chandler, with the growth of Watford City’s population, the time was right to expand the golf course.
“I know we are rated one of the most affordable, if not the most affordable golf course destinations in America,” stated Chandler. “And we are right in the middle of two of the highest-rated golf courses in North Dakota. I think we could fill the gap between the two, plus we have lodging here. The way it’s designed and the way it’s going to be built will make it one of the top two golf courses in the state.”
The Fox Hills Golf Course & Country Club was established in 1930. It offers a men’s challenging 6,044-yard par 72 and a women’s 5,403-yard par 73 in the heart of the Bakken.
Fox Hills also features a sports grill that is open to the public year-round. The clubhouse was recently expanded and remodeled to include two state-of-the-art FullSwing Golf Simulators, 13 large HD TVs offering multiple sporting packages and events, and a full-service menu to accommodate the community’s dining needs. The clubhouse also has a new lounge and restaurant with a pro shop.
“Destination golf is a big business,” said Chandler. “People travel from all over the world to highly-rated golf course destinations. The economic impact of an 18-hole golf course in this community is going to be really huge. We’re going to meet the target for executives, bring people in to the hotels and restaurants, etc. I think it is so important for this community. And it’ll bring people here for longer than a day.”
On July 22, a Special City Council Meeting was held to address Fox Hills’ payback agreement, a Golf Course Contract Manager At Risk (CMAR), and the approval of the golf course development agreement.
“We decided as a city to go through the route of hiring a CMAR rather than going through the bidding process,” said Todd Kelly, Watford City  engineer. “Since the golf course construction is a specialty construction project, we wanted to be a little more picky. And going this route allowed us to do that.”
According to Kelly, the process of choosing a CMAR included getting a statement of qualification from interested firms, interviewing those potential candidates, then selecting which firm to work with, who would ultimately be involved in the actual design of the course. The thought, says Kelly, is to get a better quality product at a reduced cost.
The three candidates included Aspen Corporation, Duininck Golf, and Landscapes Unlimited. The city’s selection committee ranked each candidate based on a point-value system, according to the different criteria. The city council ultimately voted on Landscapes Unlimited to be the golf course CMAR.
“Once the CMAR is selected, we’ll take the design plans currently done and work with the golf course architect to come up with a guaranteed maximum price - what they think they can build the project for,” says Kelly. “That plan will then be presented to the city council, and if accepted, the CMAR would then become the contractor responsible for constructing the project at that set price.”
According to Chandler, the expansion project will include adding an additional nine holes, renovating  the existing nine holes, adding a new driving range, and adding a new short-game facility, all of which will be done in phases.
“The first phase will probably start this year and be completed by next summer,” said Kelly. “The next phase would begin right after the first phase, with plans to be completed the following year.”
The first phase of the expansion is estimated to cost in the range of $3.5 to $4 million. According to Kelly, the golf course board has been able to find funding sources and raise about half of that amount. He believes the CMAR will be able to help with some additional ways of raising the remaining funding needed.
“I’m really excited for the growth of the community,” said Chandler. “Not every community gets to go through this. It’s pretty exciting to be in Watford City with what’s going on right now. Being in a community that is having an economic growth is exciting. It’s nice to be here where people are excited, positive, and pro-active with all the development and growth.”