Sanford's facility the latest addition to year-around golf in F-M area

Golf Academy offers the latest in technology in putting and golf swing

PuttView technology uses laser lighting to help work on putting at the Sanford Sports golf academy at Austad's in south Fargo.
Jeff Kolpack / The Forum
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FARGO – In the evolving world of sports-specific training, add golf to the list on Sanford Power's resume. It’s the latest addition to the sport in the Fargo-Moorhead region in taking a summer game and offering it a year-around version.

The Sanford Golf Academy, located in the southeast corner of Austad’s Golf in south Fargo, aims to attract players of all ages and abilities. LPGA golfer Amy Olson will be part of the grand opening next Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 5:30-7 p.m., but the PuttView and Trackman bays at the facility are for anybody.

Times have changed for former Minnesota-Crookston golfer Seth Heppner, the lead instructor at the golf academy.

“It’s a different world,” he said. “When I grew up, you basically went out in your backyard and your dad helped you saying, hey, you need to slow down or this or that. It’s changed to where you can do this year around.”

With PuttView, golfers can work on speed and angles on a surface that simulates a green. Bags of sand were compressed into artificial turf by a company out of Utah called Envyscapes to make it as close to possible as a putting green on a Fargo or Moorhead golf course.


“It’s almost like a legit green outside,” Heppner said. “You sand it and you top dress it.”

A laser light that shows the line is the target for a putter. The idea is to visualize where the putt is supposed to go.

“We’ve all been at the golf course where we hit one or two putts and then go play,” Heppner said. “We actually don’t ever work on our game with putting.”

PuttView offers different games in addition to working on the putting stroke with a variety of drills. The artificial turf has a stimpmeter rating of 11, with the general range on the course being seven as slow and 13 or 14 as fast.

“We can work on speed control,” Heppner said. “How many times do we three-putt on the course? Now we can get a sense of how we actually control that speed and have different games that are going to help us do that. It’s different ways to make putting more fun and more interactive. I don’t know if it’s so much the technical aspects as it is making it more fun and available.”

There are two adjacent hitting bays to the PuttView room, one of which is shared with Austad’s. The other can dive into the technical components of the swing with measurements and numbers.

Heppner has the ability to show a live video of a golfer.

“A lot of people are visual learners,” he said, “so to be able to see what is taking place is huge. This is where I nerd out, able to go down different rabbit holes and make some changes happen.”


The golf version of Sanford Power started with the Todd Kolb Golf Academy partnering with Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., an alignment similar to Sanford partnering with Austad’s.

The Fargo golf store has been in the making for several months. Lessons are open to players of all skill levels and ages.

“They just kept branching out and being part of all the communities and golf was one of those things that ended up being in Fargo,” Heppner said. “At the end of the day, whatever we can do for people to enjoy it and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Bags of sand were compressed into artificial turf to make the putting surface at Sanford Sports golf academy more realistic to an outdoor green.
Submitted photo

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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