Dragon Hills Golf Course is Becoming A Good Course
by Scott A. Sumner
On June 21st I was able to visit Dragon Hills Golf Course & Driving Range and play the 9 hole course with Curtis Mintenko, Assistant Manager and CPGA Professional. Curtis, born in Slate River, played hockey including with the Thunder Bay Flyers and started golf at age 8. "My normal day is working in the pro shop and on the weekend I take care of tournaments. On the weekend I drive around and marshall as well as do my lessons including playing lessons and some junior lessons," says Mintenko. "A lesson for 1/2 hour is $20.00 and 45 minutes it is $30.00. I like working at Dragon Hills because it is beginning. You are here for all the changes. You develop everything and see what things work and what doesn't work. It is a great learning experience."
"Most of the major course work at Dragon Hills has been done now. It is more manicure stuff now, making the courses look better and get the grass in better shape," states Mintenko. I play to a 3 handicap here. It is a very hard course. The tee shots are very demanding, every hole you can make a mistake and it can cost you. There are hazards on every hole, out of bounds and lots of water. You have to know where to place your shots. For the experienced golfer the blue tees are great. We also have the white tees that make the course not as long. If you want to play 18 holes you can play the white tees and the blue tees."
The cost to play at Dragon Hills Golf Course & Driving Range for 9 holes is $22.00 or 18 holes for $28.00. A power cart costs $20.00 for 9 holes and $25.00 for 18 holes. "You can call that day and get on. We also try to cater to the walk on and have tee off times three days in advance," says Mintenko. "It is good to call ahead as sometimes we have tournaments. We do have mens night on Thursday night and ladies night on Tuesday nights. Once school is out our busiest time is June 28 to September 5 and we are hoping for nice sunny weather." Dragon Hills has a full driving range which is 300 yards long with 50 stalls. The cost is $5.00 for 50 balls.
Nick Horde is the greens superintendent at Dragon Hills, whose family originally built Centennial Golf Course and ran that for 10 to 15 years. "I love to be out on the golf course. We have accomplished a lot here this year. We've worked on playing areas of the course where we have sodded it. As well in areas of rough we are grooming it and seeding it as we speak," says Horde. "We have planted trees on some holes to further define the fairways. We are also trying to improve the fairway grass. The greens are really coming around a lot and the tee boxes are self sufficient as well." Dragon Hills are looking at a fairway watering system. Currently they have a greens watering system and tee boxes are almost in place. "You will see drastic improvements by August. People are enjoying the course. They love the layout. Theres lots of water, bush and up and down terrain. It's very challenging." smiles Horde. There is a staff of approximately 20 people.
Mike Komar is president and owner of Dragon Hills which was started in 1996/97. "We had 10 acres here and we ended up going fishing to Sioux Look Out one time and went golfing there. We found this beautiful course there in the middle of now where very undulating and felt we didn't have anything like this in Thunder Bay," says Komar. "I had started golfing at Emerald Greens and enjoyed the game. I built my first green in the front yard just to practice putting and chipping. We had 10 acres so we thought wed build three holes and go around three times. This property came available and it took two years to get, so we acquired 70 more acres. We have added 8 holes giving us 11 holes, but two are used for nurseries, in case we have problems."
"David Grant from Winnipeg came out and designed the course in 2000. Also Jeff Parker now of Whitewater helped design it along with myself as well as Nick Horde. Of the three original holes, we are using two of them now. One we have renovated already, number 5. About $1.5 to $2 million dollars later here we are. Ask my wife. We moved over 5000 truckloads of dirt." smile Komar.
Why did Mike Komar get in the golf course business. "Mid Life Crisis. I was in the music entertainment business and saw that the baby boomers were kinda of going out of that and looking for different types of entertainment. People my age stopped going to the bars, and wanted more exercise and golf seemed to be a natural fit," says Komar. "I said if I'm going to work I might as well do something I enjoy doing so the golf course happened. The last three years we put our effort into tees and greens. You could live with so so fairways but golfers want good greens. We went with two types of grass seeds on the greens. What they use in Manitoba and the Northern States, bent and providence. Last year our greens lasted longer. They will take a lot of stress. Providence is more plush and takes less maintenance. So far it working really well. It's been good with little snow or lots of snow winters."
Dragon Hills are working on extending the club house by putting an addition to it of 48 by 24 feet. "We'll have a permanent liquor license here for 80 people and a tent for tournaments that holds up to 150 people. We will have the golf courses licensed. It will give a chance to keep people here after the golf game," states Komar. "We have a barn that is 102 years old and in that we have a space the for the mens club." Look for continuing development of this challenging golf course in a perfect setting with a view of Lake Superior.