DUININCK GOLF BRINGS ‘THE PRESERVE ON RATHBUN LAKE’ TO FRUITION DESPITE HEAVY RAINS
New course in Iowa’s Honey Creek State Park makes its debut in March, 2009
PRINSBURG, MN – Duininck Golf, a golf construction company that finds ways to outfox Mother Nature when she misbehaves, recently completed construction of a new daily-fee golf course in one of Iowa’s largest and most beautiful state parks. The layout, which formally debuted all 18 holes in March, 2009, is called The Preserve on Rathbun Lake. It is situated within Honey Creek State Park, an 859-acre multi-use enclave located in south central Iowa 90 miles from Des Moines.
Dave Munkvold, General Manager of Duininck Golf, said officials at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conceived the golf course along with 28 new luxury cabins to boost the park’s recreational appeal. “We were hired to not only build the golf course but also complete all the grading and infrastructure within the park, including sewer and water installation,” Munkvold stated. “We basically finished the job in the span of one Midwest construction season.” He added that crews worked nonstop from early April through late September in 2007 to complete the task, returning in 2008 prepare the course for opening.
Adverse weather conditions during the construction process created many challenges for the team, but Duininck Golf prevailed. “During the grassing of the course in 2007, we received over 10 inches of rain in an eight-hour period,” said Munkvold. He added that The Preserve on Rathbun Lake was adversely affected by heavy rains during the record Iowa floods of 2007. Bridges and bunkers were washed out, while turfgrass in low-lying areas remained underwater for weeks. During the rains, the lake level rose 14 feet and flooded two bridges leading to the third green and fifth fairway. Consequently, only nine holes of The Preserve opened in September, 2008, resulting in the unveiling of the full 18 this spring.
In addition to assisting with repairs to flood-damaged areas on the course, Judd Duininck, a principal in Duininck Golf, explained that the construction team also improved the fledgling layout’s erosion control. The company’s experience working in states like California, Minnesota and others with stringent erosion control standards enabled it to keep the Honey Creek State Park project in compliance with Iowa DNR regulations. Duininck Golf also partnered with Stephen E. Jones, a civil engineer and erosion control expert hired by the state to keep tabs on Rathbun Lake, which functions as a flood control reservoir and is prized for its water quality.”
Jones, who’s attached to Iowa State University in Ames, remembers 2007 as a very challenging year. “We had a total of 54 inches of rain at the Honey Creek project in 2007,” he recalled. “The normal amount is 31 inches. I thought Duininck Golf did a very good job from the very beginning. For example, they installed all of the initial erosion control protocols (silt fences, rock check dams, etc.) prior to grading. They were also very upfront about unit costs for these practices and reviewed week-to-week administrative items with Central Management Group, the company hired to run the resort for the state. In addition to useful suggestions, Duininck Golf had answers to all the questions during the construction process and was very fair in working with the owner to repair water-damaged areas on the course.”
Mike Broderick, engineering project manager for the Iowa DNR, credited Duininck Golf with “doing whatever was required to stabilize water-damaged areas on the course and avoid an unsightly mess.” As a state agency tasked with protecting the environment, Broderick said the DNR was greatly assisted by Duininck Golf. “They’re conscientious folks,” he said of the construction firm. “Despite the significant challenges posed by the above-average rainfall, they worked very well with our erosion control experts. It took the heat off us knowing Duininck Golf had the situation under control.”
The golf course, which traces the ridgelines of a forested peninsula on the north side of the lake, fits its setting hand-in-glove. Duininck Golf built the course, designed by Kevin Norby, a Minnesota-based architect, to fit the existing terrain.” Grading was minimal. Fewer than 200,000 cubic yards of dirt was moved to build the course, and much of that material was excavated to the left side of the 14th hole to create an irrigation pond.
For his part, Norby noted that he’s worked with Duininck Golf on previous projects and was “happy the Iowa DNR hired them because of their long experience and proven capabilities as a contractor. Duininck Golf’s on-site construction team knows how to sequence a project and how to coordinate the various tasks to be completed, from shaping to drainage. They’re also large enough to bring in additional equipment if you fall behind schedule for weather reasons.” Norby believes Duininck Golf did a good job of answering the call during the periods of unprecedented rainfall in 2007. “They quickly focused their efforts in higher elevation areas to preserve topsoil and minimize erosion,” he said.
Superintendent Erik Hansen, who was brought in during the time the course was seeded in August, 2007, also chimed in. “Duininck Golf crew went above and beyond in every department to get the job done in tough conditions,” he said. “They clearly wanted the finished product to reflect their company.”
Unusual for a state park golf course, The Preserve on Rathbun Lake was built to very high standards and is expected to merit national media attention this year. The 6,897-yard, par-72 layout has a minimum of five sets of tees per hole as well as bentgrass tees, greens and fairways.
With 24 acres of restored native short-grass prairie, tall fescues in the secondary rough, dramatic elevation changes and great views of the lake, The Preserve is a natural beauty. With no housing to intrude on the golf experience, the course, a candidate for Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program certification, offers a lovely natural setting for the game.
The creation of Rathbun Lake, Iowa’s largest, was authorized by Congress in 1954 to remedy flood and drought problems in the Chariton River Valley. The dam that created the lake was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Today, Rathbun Lake provides flood protection for 149,300 acres of land along the Chariton River.
In the end, the state of Iowa’s goal was to build a fun but challenging course that sits lightly on the land in one of their prettiest parks. Duininck Golf, which always finds a way to overcome adversity, achieved that goal--despite the uncooperative weather.