Havre Daily News
It’s already been more than two
years since construction began on
Prairie Farms Golf Course, which is set
to be Havre’s first 18-hole layout.
And even though a definitive opening
date has yet to be determined, the construction
of the course took a giant step
forward Wednesday morning.
Prairie Farms, owned by brothers
Greg and Gary Baltrusch, is located
three miles east of Havre on acreage
owned by Baltrusch Land and Cattle Co.
On Wednesday morning, four holes were
seeded, which has everyone involved
with the project very excited.
“The construction has taken a little
longer than I thought it would,” Greg
Baltrusch said. “But it is amazing how
much work and time goes into building a
golf course. So I am really happy with
how things are going.
“It is excited to finally have grass in
the ground,” he added.
Prairie Farms superintendent and
chief builder Brett Gilman couldn’t
“It will be nice to eventually get back
to mowing grass,” Gilman joked. “It is
exciting to be seeding the course. This
project has been pretty overwhelming at
times because everywhere you look
there are things to do.
“And because of the (small) size of
our crew, which is by design so we can
keep the costs down and build and maintain
an affordable golf course, things
are taking some time,” Gilman added.
“But we are doing things the right way,
and we are taking great strides to make
sure that we are building a great golf
On Wednesday, Gilman seeded holes
No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 9. The fairways
are being planted with a mix of
Kentucky bluegrass and rye grass. The
greens are being seeded with a newer
variety bent grass, which is designed to
be more disease- and drought-tolerant
and to better withstand foot traffic and
ball marks. The rough is being seeded
with a fine Scottish Links fescue.
Gilman also seeded the practice
green and chipping area on Wednesday.
Even though the first four holes
weren’t seeded until this week, there is
already lush, green grass on the property.
The driving range, which was part of
major construction that was completed
last summer, is growing and could possibly
be available to golfers at the end of
the summer, according to Gilman.
As for the rest of the construction,
the summer of 2005 saw the course really
come into its own. The biggest accomplishment
was the completion of the irrigation
system for the front nine. Gilman
and his crew did the entire project
themselves, and the task took about
seven weeks to complete from start to
finish. In all, the crew laid about 24
miles of wire underground. The system
includes Hunter sprinkler heads and
controls, and Gilman said that once the
course is operational, the irrigation system
should be very user-friendly.
“It is a pretty state-of-the-art system,”
Gilman said. “It can be completely
controlled from hand-held remotes or
a central computer. So once things get
going, I should never have to go out and
open a control box.”
If the irrigation system wasn’t a big
enough task, much of the concrete work
on the cart paths was completed last
summer as well. All of the bunkers were
also built, as well as a lot of dirt work
that had to be done several times over
in order to be ready to seed this spring.
Before the crew shut down for the winter,
the driving range and its irrigation
system also was completed.
“That is one of the things that caused
us to be set back time-wise,” Gilman
said. “Havre’s gentle breezes and the
weather are what really sets you
back time-wise. Because of the
weather and the wind, I had to
rework the dirt several times to
get it to where I wanted it to be.
“And we have also made
some changes as we have went
along,” Gilman added.
“Originally we were going to go
with gravel cart paths. But then
we decided if we really wanted
to do things right, then we
should go with cement. We also
decided to change what we were
going to use for the rough.”
Changes to the course’s original
design have been few and
Gilman said another major
change was the addition of
sprinkler heads, which has
affected the overall price tag of
“We added about 100 or so
more sprinkler heads than we
originally planned on,” Gilman
said. “Other than that, everything
is about the same as it
was. We didn’t make any major
design changes or anything like
“And one of the neat things
about this golf course is that we
have been very psychologically
conscious of preserving the natural
habitat out here,” he added.
“We have been taking great
strides in accomplishing that.”
But even with all of the work
that he has done, and will still
have to do before one golf ball is
ever hit on Prairie Farms,
Gilman has no regrets about
deciding to undertake a project
of this magnitude.
“This has definitely been a
great experience for me so far,”
Gilman said. “I have gained a
lot of experience working with
various people in the industry
like irrigation and turf reps.
“A lot of this stuff I always
knew in theory but had never
got to put it to use before,” he
added. “And it has been pretty
neat to put this knowledge to
work and build a golf course
from the ground up.”
And Gilman also knows he
hasn’t and could not do any of
this alone. Although his crew
has been small compared to how
golf courses are normally constructed,
he has had a significant
amount of help along the
“All of the help I have had
has been great,” Gilman said.
“But Chris Daniels is one guy
who has been with me for the
last two seasons and he has been
a great asset to me and to the
construction of this course.”
And there is still a lot to do at
Prairie Farms before the course
will be open for business.
Gilman anticipates that the rest
of the front nine will be seeded
in the next two weeks. Work will
continue on the cart paths, and
on the careful maintenance of
the grass growing, which is a
never-ending process. But it is
one that has Gilman, who has
been working with grass on golf
courses for his entire adult life,
is excited about.
“I have always been on the
top end of the grass as a superintendent,”
Gilman said. “So it
has been very interesting and
exciting to be on the bottom end
of it. And it is exciting to finally
have grass in the ground, and I
am looking forward to getting
back to maintaining it.”
When Prairie Farms does
open for business, it will be a
nine-hole course that is in the
process of becoming an 18-hole
course. That is because construction
of the back nine is
scheduled to begin this fall. The
construction of the clubhouse is
also slated to get under way
sometime in the fall. A permanent
road into the course is also
currently under construction as
is a permanent sign.
“This has been a big project,”
Gilman said. “But it is one that
has been a great experience.
Hopefully with Mother Nature’s
cooperation we can get the rest
of the front nine seeded in the
next two weeks. But it is just
really exciting to finally have
grass growing out here.”