Spring flooding puts area golf course superintendents to the test

The qualification for the job of golf course superintendent along the Red River does not include experience at a seminary, although you could fool some golfers.

Mark Lindberg
Mark Lindberg, the Fargo Park District foreman of golf operations, checks on the progress of the flood-damaged areas of Edgewood Golf Course in north Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

The qualification for the job of golf course superintendent along the Red River does not include experience at a seminary, although you could fool some golfers.

Turning virtual total destruction into greens of beauty in a matter of a couple months is heavenly to golfers who have a window of just a few months to play. It's been the talk at Oxbow Country Club, Fargo Country Club, Moorhead Country Club and Edgewood golf course.

Oxbow, for instance, is in tournament-type condition - it's hosting the North Dakota Golf Association match play tournament this weekend and Oxbow members are thankful for superintendent David Wood.

"He's done miracles for us out here," said Billy Iverson, the assistant professional at Oxbow.

Same goes for Mark Lindberg at Edgewood, Jason Spitzner at Moorhead and Aaron Porter at Fargo. Although they vary on their details, all follow essentially the same path of rehabilitation: clean off the silt, seed it several times, fertilize it, keep it moist and pray for permanent flood protection.


At last count, Lindberg has been through 23 flood events in 18 years at Edgewood. He's had to practically rebuild the course five times.

The type of grasses used by all courses has varied over the years, but everybody is re-seeding this year with perennial rye grass. It germinates faster than Kentucky bluegrass, which is preferred for fairways because it needs less watering and can handle divots better.

Lindberg said he'll probably over-seed with bluegrass next spring - if the river doesn't go batty again anyway.

"You can't fight water, it's going to win," Spitzner said. "You try to keep it out as best you can. I've seen so many floods but it's OK: Here's what we have to do and then have a plan of attack."

It's an attack that is new of this magnitude to Porter, who came to Fargo this year from the Des Moines Golf & Country Club.

"It's been interesting," he said.

Sharing information is common among superintendents and in the past, they've borrowed equipment from each other. Edgewood and Fargo each got hit twice this year on their low-lying holes with the heavy rains late last month.

Lindberg saw germination on the two fairways on Tuesday. In this case, he tilled the dead grass and used a few different types of seeding machines.


"Mark Lindberg can grow grass on concrete," said Roger Gress, executive director of the Fargo Park District.

Adding misery to the replanting process after the record 41.86-foot flood this spring was a cooler-than-normal May and June. Grass grows best in warm weather.

But the groundwork is provided by the superintendents, who use all means possible to get 18 holes open.

"It makes for a long, long season," Spitzner said. "When the weather is not cooperating, it takes the stress level pretty high, so you want to get the course back as fast as possible so everyone can play because the season is so short."

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found


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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