Golfing in Grand Forks
One of the largest cities in the rural Northern Great Plains state of North Dakota is Grand Forks. There are a number of outdoor activities that people enjoy throughout the year. The city has hockey rinks that are set up in the winter. There are a couple of outdoor spray parks to cool off from the summer warmth and an indoor water park for year-round fun.
Starting about April or early May, the snow melts and the ground begins to dry out. It is at this point that the residents start to come out and play golf. There are only three public golf courses in Grand Forks, but there are a few more in the surrounding communities that people can play. This article will focus upon the three public courses in Grand Forks.
Lincoln Park Golf Course
The oldest golf course in Grand Forks is Lincoln Park Golf Course. This course that sits along the Red River was built in 1909. The course was originally an 18-hole course, but it was redesigned to be a 9-hole course after the flood of 1997.
Lincoln Park is a par-35 layout, and the par-5 eighth hole runs along Belmont Road. The course has a few rather short par-4 holes, so it is probably the easiest course in town. It is maintained by the Grand Forks Park District. Green fees at Lincoln Park are $14 for nine holes and $22 for 18.
Lincoln Park technically has 18 holes. The Steve Mullally kid's course is located just to the east of the clubhouse. It is free for children who are accompanied by a parent or guardian. This short course utilizes turf tees and the nine holes measure between 40 and 80 yards. Larger cups help kids gain confidence.
Ray Richards Golf Course
Unfortunately, the Ray Richards course is no longer in operation. I was in Grand Forks in October 2017, and the fairways were overgrown. This means that golfers in Grand Forks have fewer options available to them.
The first course that is open to the public in Grand Forks is Ray Richards Golf Course, which is named for a University of North Dakota alum who donated the land to the University. UND owns and operates the course, and college students and UND faculty get a discount on their green fees.
Ray Richards is a 9-hole course. The course measures 3,309 yards from the back tees. The par for the course is 36, with 2 par-3 holes and 2 par-5 holes. The most difficult hole on the course is the par-4 9th, which measures at 435 yards from the blue tees. The hole has a pond that is in front of the green that is slightly elevated as it goes toward the clubhouse.
The course is located on the corner of Demers and 42nd Street. The course is a full-service golf facility. Public green fees are $14 during the week and $15 on the weekend for 9 holes. 18 holes will cost $23 during the week and $24 on the weekend.
The newest golf course in Grand Forks is also the most impressive. King's Walk Golf Course is also managed by the city park district. This course is a full service course with a golf shop, lessons and Eagle's Crest Grill Restaurant.
King's Walk takes its name from its famous designer, Arnold Palmer, who was known as the king of golf back in his heyday. The course measures measures 7,166 from the back gold tees. The white tees are a bit more generous at only 6,082. The course plays to a par of 72 with 4 par-3 and 4 par-5 holes. The hardest hole on the course is the par-4 15th, which measures 399 yards from the white tees and 455 yards from the back tees.
The greens fees at King's Walk are $45 during the day. Those who choose to ride will pay $63. Those who want to play frequently without actually joining the course can purchase punch cards that provide a nice discount on the regular greens fees.
King's Walk is a well-maintained course that has a links feel. The land in the Red River Valley is very flat, and there are only a few mounds built up in this course. The flat terrain leads to conditions that are frequently windy. There is tall fescue grass for the secondary rough that looks very much like British Open courses. The fairways are generally quite generous, so the course is fairly playable.
Other Courses in the Grand Forks Area
There are some other courses in the Grand Forks area. The town of Manvel, which is about 10 miles away has a 9-hole public course known as Whispering Oaks. The fees are quite a bit more affordable than King's Walk. Additionally, the Grand Forks Country Club lies within the town of Grand Forks, but this is a private course that only allows guests who are with a member to play. The Plainsview Golf Course is about 10 miles west of town, but it is located on the Grand Forks Air Force Base, and only those who are in the military or who are playing with a member of the Armed Forces are allowed to play.