Changes coming to Sawmill

Course to get new management, new name

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The fifth hole at Sawmill Golf Club in Grant. The club’s owners will change management companies at the course in November and a name change is planned before the start of the 2014 golf season. (Gazette file photo)

Changes are coming to Sawmill Golf Club, just not the kind that were long rumored.

The Nicholson family, which owns the course and has leased it for 30 years to a group led by Dan Pohl, will allow the lease to expire at the end of October and turn course management over to a Wayzata-based company.

“On Nov. 1, we’ll be owning it and I will hire a manager to run it,” said Marian Nicholson.

“It’s going to be run by the family. It will continue to be a golf course,” added Howard Nicholson.

The Nicholsons said Northco Golf and Hospitality Co. has a five-year contract to manage the course. The company currently manages more than 120 golf courses.
The Sawmill management change does not affect Logger’s Trail Golf Course, also run by Pohl, according to Howard Nicholson.

Northco President Frank Jermusek said the company is excited about Sawmill’s future.
“There’s an incredible amount of potential at Sawmill,” he said. “It’s a great piece of property.”

The property was so attractive Nicholson said rumors started that his family was going to sell the 140-acre course to a developer.

“A lot of people are under the understanding that this is going to be a housing development,” he said.

Jermusek added that a golf publication mentioned the possibility of Sawmill’s sale to developers.

“The fact of the matter is the family has no intention in selling it for development. Right now, there are no plans to do anything like that,” Jermusek said.
The only immediate change planned at Sawmill is changing its name, according to the Nicholsons and Jermusek.

“It’s no longer going to be named Sawmill. We’re pretty sure we know what we’re going to do, but it’s not official,” Marian Nicholson said.

“I would say it would be a couple of months before you hear what the name is,” Jermusek added.

Other than rebranding Sawmill, Jermusek said Northco will take a more long-term approach to changes at the course that include clubhouse improvements such as a kitchen and dining facility.

“It will be a full-fledged golf course and he wants to enlarge it (clubhouse) and bring in food service,” Marian Nicholson said.

Sawmill was constructed 40 years ago by Marian Nicholson’s husband. Pohl and three partners leased the course for 30 years before the two groups agreed to let the lease run out Oct. 31. Jermusek said Northco had been contacted by the Nicholsons earlier this year about managing the course.

“They approached me probably about nine months ago. I know they talked with a number of management companies nationally,” Jermusek said.

Marian Nicholson said Sawmill has seen large numbers of golfers play the course this season.

“Every day this summer when I drove in here there wasn’t a place to park,” she said. “People were penned up earlier this year and ready to play.”

Jermusek said Northco wants to build on Sawmill’s popularity among St. Croix Valley golfers.

“It’s going to take a couple of years to bring it up to a high standard,” he said.

Marian Nicholson is confident in Northco’s plans for the soon-to-be renamed Sawmill.

“It’s going to be a golf course you can be proud of,” she said.

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FYI
Sawmill Golf Club
11177 McKusick Road North near the intersection with Dellwood Road (MN 96)
18-hole, par 70
Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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