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AGC's Minnesota hole open for business

Golfers playing in the member-guest tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club got a chance to play the new seventh green for the first time last Thursday after its remodeling. (Echo Press photo by Blaze Fugina)

Renovations are completed on the iconic Minnesota par-3 hole at the Alexandria Golf Club and golfers had the chance to see the results for the first time last Thursday.

The newly designed hole opened in time for a practice round in the golf club's Lakes to the Links Member Guest Golf Tournament, which took place last Friday and Saturday.

The remodel moved the iconic Minnesota-shaped green toward the shores of Lake Darling. The changes to the hole were the first since the club opened in 1915. The hole will also be opened in stretches right now in an attempt to not put too much traffic on the green too soon.

The head pro of AGC, Ron Rebrovich, said the hole's July opening was in line with staff estimates. The cool and wet spring had dashed any hopes for an early completion.

"For the grass to grow in, it takes time," he said.

The hilltop tee box location is similar to the layout of the previous hole. Golfers who are shooting from the blue tees will now be located about 150 yards from the pin. Multiple tee boxes allow for the par-3 to be played anywhere between 200 and 100 yards.

"It's downwind a little bit today, so it's definitely short," said Rebrovich. "The green definitely has some undulation to it."

The move toward Lake Darling helped improve the scenery around the hole, and Rebrovich said the club removed a few trees to open up the view.

"The green is in about the same area, but it got pushed back and to the right a little bit," he said. "So it's up against Lake Darling now where it never used to be."

One of those golfers preparing for the weekend tournament was Chris Wessel. He said the hole played more like 110 or 115 yards due to the high location of the tee box and the direction of the wind.

"It's tremendous," he said.

Wessel also said the water from the nearby lake is not in play.

Donnacha O'Connor, the superintendent of the grounds crew at AGC, said it was hard to know how the hole would turn out until it was completed.

"With the architect's drawings, it's really hard to get a vision of what they're actually doing because they're just dots on a piece of paper," he said. "It's like connect the dots."

Now that the grass has fully grown, O'Connor said he is satisfied with the changes.

"Before, it was obvious that it was the Minnesota green," O'Connor said. "Now it's much more subtle."

O'Connor said the orientation of the hole has changed, and now the green is no longer facing directly at the tee box. The green also has more of a rolling slope than the previous design.

"I think previously it was shaped more like Minnesota than a green," he said. "Now it's first and foremost a green that is shaped like Minnesota."

The club is looking at a possible change to the cart path now that the renovations are complete.

Club members said the cart traffic was a little slow on the first day. Golfers mentioned that some people left their carts near the tee box while playing the hole. This caused some backups as they walked back to move their carts.

Rebrovich said the golf club would consider a new configuration for the path if the slowdowns continue.

"If it's not working, we'll make a change as far as traffic flow," he said.

Rebrovich also offered some advice for people who are playing the hole for the first time. Golfers should avoid the steep bunker toward the front and left side of the green and aim for the pin.

"Definitely take that bunker out of play," he said. "Grab enough club to make sure that bunker is out of play, and get it past that bunker. That is the last place you want to be."

Tom Lehman, who helped design the seventh hole, has not yet had the chance to see the results of the reconstruction. Rebrovich said Lehman will have the chance to see the hole while caddying for his son in the upcoming Resorters Golf Tournament at the end of July.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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