Geneva celebrates 20 years in the Alexandria community

A flag on the greens blows in the wind at the Geneva Golf Club on Sept. 28 with vibrant fall colors starting to show along the course in the background. The Geneva Golf Club is celebrating 20 years in the Alexandria community after it was built originally as an 18-hole course in 2000 before adding nine more holes in 2002. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Gary and Barb Thompson of Clarissa had a vision that the Alexandria area’s tourism community could support a new golf course years ago. Two decades later, that vision proved to be true.

The Thompsons moved to Alexandria in 1998 after 29 years of operating a family dairy and grain farm. With the completion of the first phase of the Geneva Golf Club coming in 2000, the Thompsons celebrated 20 years in the community on Sept. 27 with a 144-player scramble tournament as a way to thank the community for their support. Plenty of big-dollar prizes were possible to win with a little luck on the course, but entries into the field were free for members and just $20 for non-members.

“We came to Alexandria because we thought there was a need for a golf course in the future with the growing tourist industry that seemed to be happening,” Gary said. “In the beginning, it was a three or four year process. You get the rough spots out and keep honing it and try to make it a better product. You continue to do that presently.”

This aerial photo shows the Geneva Golf Club under construction. Geneva, which started as an 18-hole course in 2000 and added nine more holes to its layout in 2002, is celebrating its 20th year in the Alexandria community. (Contributed photo)


Geneva started out as an 18-hole course designed by Joel Goldstrand. Goldstrand has designed many Minnesota courses and is a former player on the PGA Tour who’s career highlights included a 12th-place finish in the U.S. Open at Hazeltine National in 1970.

The initial phase of the Geneva Golf Course and housing development -- Lake Geneva Estates -- featured 233 acres total. In 2002, an adjacent 142 acres was purchased to create nine additional holes.

The 27-hole course has three nines named the Marsh, Ponds and Island that all start and end near the clubhouse. Today, the whole golf course and housing community cover 444 acres.

“I think what we tried to do is develop a golf community, along with an opportunity for some of the tourists that would be coming to town,” Gary said. “Kind of a dual purpose where we could accommodate the locals who live on the golf course, and the people looking for a round of golf. That was kind of the business plan in the beginning.”

Geneva has transformed into a course that hosts plenty of local tournaments and offers golfers challenges around natural water hazards, wetlands and bunkers. It was a calculated risk moving on from farming and building a new course in a community that features many golf course options, but it’s a risk the Thompsons gained a lot from now two decades later.

“I guess we’re kind of proud of the fact that we’ve reached 20 years, but we’ve created a lot of friends over the years,” Gary said. “Friends that are clients of ours, and that’s probably been the most enriching part of the whole thing for us personally.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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