Late opening at Bunker Hills

What a difference a year makes.

An early spring last year meant that the city of Coon Rapids’ Bunker Hills Golf Course opened for the season March 17.

This year’s late spring has delayed the opening of the 27-hole championship course until tomorrow (Saturday, April 12).

At least that’s the plan unless some anticipated snow this week occurs and then that could delay the opening beyond Saturday, according to Golf Director Tim Anderson.

“It really depends if we get snow this week,” Anderson said Monday.

“The course is very soggy.”

And there is still snow on some parts of the course, Anderson said.

The nine-hole executive course opened Sunday and over 100 golfers took advantage of the opportunity to play.

The driving range has been open for some time, Anderson said.

“There is a pent-up demand,” he said.

He expects that to carry-over when the 27-hole championship course is available for play, Anderson said.

“But then there will be only a certain number of tee boxes and tee times available,” he said.

According to Anderson, in his 13 years at the course, he can’t recall a later season-opening date.

“This may be the first year that we can actually watch the Masters on TV,” Anderson said.

The first major of the PGA Tour season, the Masters, takes places this weekend in Augusta, Ga.

“The tournament is on TV in the pro shop, but we are normally so busy that we don’t have a chance to watch it, just glance up once in a while,” Anderson said.

Anderson does not anticipate the cold, wet weather having a negative impact on the golf course improvements set to take place this spring.

Bids were opened Monday on the first phase of an expansion project at the course, with the Coon Rapids City Council scheduled to award a contract at its Tuesday, April 16 meeting.

The project involves site work (grading, trails, landscaping and turf restoration) and construction of a new driving range, practice green and short-game area.

According to Anderson, construction will begin as quickly as possible following the contract award because the new driving range and practice green, along with relocating, creating and sodding four new tee boxes from their current locations on the course, need to be completed by June 1.

That’s because the Minnesota State High School League golf tournament is scheduled to be played at Bunker Hills June 10 and the new facilities have to be ready by then, Anderson said,

The short-game area, as well as the new learning center building, which is the second phase of the project, will be completed by mid-July, he said.

The council has entered into a lease agreement with GolfTEC Minnesota (GTMN Partners LLC) to operate the new 1,340 square-foot learning center.

The overall project cost has an estimate between $835,000 and $965,000.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]