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Improvements at Mayville Golf Course classic example of a small town coming together

Thinking big led to a major renovation of the clubhouse that is a benefit to entire community.

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Mayville Golf Course general manager Mike Bakken is a retired music professor from Mayville State who has taken on several duties with the facility. Jeff Kolpack / The Forum
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FARGO — It’s not the ultimate small-town morning golf experience in Mayville unless a player gets the necessary fuel before heading to the Mayville Golf Club. That, of course, is a stop at Soholt Bakery on Main Street.

The smell of donuts is energizing. And speaking of energy, the golf club has no shortage of it when it comes to those who have put their heart and soul into the place. Built in 1968, it’s why the facility has reinvented itself in recent years and is now a source of community pride.

Even former professional golfer Tom Weiskopf once had a hand in the improvement. He married Laurie McMullen, the daughter of former Mayville resident Harvey McMullen, and when he was back for a wedding reception, Mike Bakken was part of a group that played with him.

“I was all nervous of course,” Bakken said. “I think he shot a 33.”

Weiskopf made a few improvement pointers on the layout of the course. The nine holes are in fabulous shape.

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The entire facility is in fabulous shape. The clubhouse took on a project in 2016 that originally started with replacing the bathrooms but ended up being an overhaul of the entire kit and kaboodle. Think big.

That was the theme that Bakken was given. He was recently retired from a career as a music professor at Mayville State when, while serving on the Mayville Golf Course’s Board of Directors, the course needed somebody to manage the operation.

They all looked at Bakken.

“OK, here we go,” he thought to himself.

Bakken told the board he would do it for a year and a half “and that’s it.”

He’s still it. As the GM, he oversees anything and everything from the groundskeeping crew consisting of three retired gentlemen and a high school kid to making sure there is enough coffee for the Keurig in the pro shop.

“Everything from beer nuts to hydraulic fluid,” Bakken said.

And that includes tree removal, which a few weeks ago was another example of a community coming together. A storm ripped out a few trees including a couple of the very large variety.

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The club put the word out that it needed help cleaning the course. It wasn’t long before about a dozen volunteers cranked up their chainsaws and brought their rakes. That was on a Monday.

By noon on a Tuesday, it was hard to tell anything had happened. Bakken calls the course a diamond in the rough.

“It’s like an emerald in the rough, it's so pretty,” said Mayville resident Lute Simley.

It’s taken a lot of work and fundraising efforts to keep it that way. A few years ago, the board OK’d a four-year improvement plan that included new bathrooms, windows, doors, kitchen, siding and floor.

“We got it done in one year,” said Bakken, of the $170,000-plus price tag.

Any fundraiser was a good fundraiser. The locals will tell you Portland resident Larry McGillis is the MVP of asking for donations.

The year at the club starts with the annual “Kickoff Ripoff” fundraiser in April, which just finished its 36th year under the direction of Bakken and Glenn Thoreson.

The improvements benefit more than golfers. The club is now able to host graduation parties, wedding receptions, class reunions and large tournaments.

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Everything from beer nuts to hydraulic fluid.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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