Chominix Golf Course – Better Than Ever
By Steve Manthis
About six weeks ago I hit one of those milestone birthdays. All birthdays that end with a “0” are major markers in a person’s life, but this one, the big 5-0, hit me pretty hard. I don’t feel like I have lived 50 years, but the facts check out: born in 1967, it’s now 2017, so there you go. Even though I don’t really feel 50, time has started to catch up with me. No one needs a list of my ailments, but a balky right knee and a crunchy left hip are enough to remind me of my age. The good news is that if the knee gets any worse, there are options and upgrades to help keep me mobile.
Just like we can get “upgrades” to our joints, sometimes golf courses need the same thing, either due to age or some other circumstance. Chomonix Golf Course, located east of 35W between Centerville and Circle Pines in Lino Lakes, is one golf course that recently underwent a procedure that provided some much-needed upgrades, and the post-procedure check up is looking fantastic. Last July, Chomonix decided to address two major problem holes on the course; the par three 6th and the short par four 17th. Drainage issues affected the playability of each, so they opted to close those two holes while each green underwent a major rebuilding. Now, fixing two holes isn’t as drastic as replanting all the grass on the course like Hazeltine did a few years ago to prepare for the Ryder Cup, but closing two holes does have an impact on the bottom line. Chris Bettinger, Golf Operations Supervisor at Chomonix, says, “There are a lot of places to play golf. With so many options, people didn’t want to play a course that was in the middle of construction.”
While the brunt of the work was completed last fall, all that was needed was some time for the grass to grow in. Bettinger says they hoped to be fully open late spring, but knew it might take until the middle of summer. In actuality, the course was ready to go on June 2nd and Bettinger says the upgrades are spectacular. “The new greens are in fantastic shape,” Bettinger continued, “and the whole course is too.” For those of you who like numbers, the 6th green added almost 500 square feet and addressed the drainage problems that left potholes in the green. The new 17th green is a more dramatic rebuilding; the old punch bowl green has been raised to fix the drainage issues and the putting surface has been increased by about 1,200 feet! When I was there recently, I got a chance to see the improvements and I agree with Bettinger. Both holes have been greatly improved and neither one looks out of place which can happen sometimes if a renovation isn’t done properly.
In addition to these two holes, the course is continuing to do other improvements to make the course more playable. “The course opened in 1971,” says Bettinger. “Things have grown up and some trees had taken over, so we needed to do some removal. Some were removed because they were dying, and some were removed for strategic reasons, making the course more playable.” 600 trees have been removed the past two years, and another 400 will be taken down this fall. For example, the whole left side of #2 has been cleaned up, but the best example of addition by subtraction is the double-dogleg 5th hole. Don’t worry, the big tree that provides an obstacle for your tee shot is still there. But a lot of other, smaller trees and underbrush have been removed. Now, you have a much better sense of where the hole goes but still have a challenging par 5. Bettinger says, “It’s absolutely beautiful, a great risk/reward hole.” Besides all the lumberjacking, Chomonix is going to address the 10th and 12th holes later this summer, but that work will be minor compared to the recent work.
Not only were the two new greens in great shape, all the greens are in great shape, and you won’t find a friendlier staff anywhere. If those reasons aren’t enough to get you out to Lino Lakes, then maybe you go for the beer. They are again the official golf course of “The Beer Show” and Chomonix has a beer selection that can’t be beat. With 75 different beers to choose from, there’s definitely something there to whet your whistle. This wide variety of beer is nothing new for Chomonix though. What is new, the upgraded 6th and 17th holes, improve the playability of a fun and challenging golf course.