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The Battle on Red Mike Hill

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The Links of North Dakota is a golf course on Red Mike Hill. It is a gorgeous area, but this idyllic landscape was once rife with controversy. It began with Stan Weeks. Weeks wanted to build a golf course and asked Stephen Kay, a course designer, to help. Once they found Red Mike Hill, Kay said, “...I could work until I was 95 and never get a better site.” Weeks needed help buying it so he recruited Mike Ames, a water irrigation expert. They tried to raise $1 million but only raised $300,000. They went forward anyway, saving money by building a very natural course.

It officially opened on July 11, 1995, to amazing reviews, with Golf Magazine saying Red Mike was, "one of the purest expressions of links-style golf ever conceived outside Scotland." Unfortunately, behind the scenes the situation was troublesome. On October 10, 1996, Weeks was charged with corruption of a minor for having intimate relations with a course employee. He offered to resign, but the shareholders resisted, asking him to seek psychiatric treatment, which he did, only to be forced out on returning.

Ames said they tried to help him but he was ultimately a liability and they had to let him go which caused Weeks to retaliate. In an attempt to shed Weeks from the project, Red Mike Development Corporation sued the Ames and Weeks partnership on this date in 1998, mainly on the grounds that Weeks had refused to follow through on a land-purchase agreement. The same day, Weeks turned around and sued the shareholders in an attempt to evict them for not paying the lease. After 19 months of legal battles, the parties reached a buyout agreement where Weeks retained a five-acre portion of land at Red Mike.

There was still trouble attracting golfers and the course almost shut down. However, a group came together called Save Red Mike LLC and bought the land at an auction for a relatively low price of $467,500. As for the two original buyers, the North Dakota Irrigation Association honored Ames with its 2017 Irrigation in Excellence Annual award. Weeks died unexpectedly on Sunday, May 24, 2009, in Bismarck. As of 2020, the golf course was ranked by Golf Digest as first in North Dakota and 35th in the entire country.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas

Sources:

https://vault.si.com/vault/2002/03/18/the-legend-of-red-mike-in-the-badlands-of-north-dakota-what-started-out-as-a-small-towns-field-of-dreams-wound-up-as-a-nightmarish-battleground

https://www.thelinksofnorthdakota.com/history/

https://www.valleyirrigation.com/blog/valley-blog/2018/06/28/valley-irrigation-longlasting-pivots-longlasting-dealers

https://www.thomasfamilyfuneralhome.com/obituary/stanley-weeks

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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