Another season at Pomme de Terre Golf Club with new and familiar faces

Spring and Summer, to many, mean golfing as much as they can before the weather turns cold and snowy. Here in Stevens County, Pomme de Terre Golf Course serves as the place to go whether a golfer wants to join a league, play casually, participate in fundraisers, or even to just pick up and learn the game of golf. 

Last year, the Pomme de Terre Golf Club celebrated its 100th year, and over the course of that century has seen setbacks, resiliency, and changes in management and membership. 

This year, the course has a new manager, Ryan Sproul, who started this spring.

Sproul is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and spent the first 25 years of his career in medical technology and engineering. Before that, he worked in golf course maintenance at several clubs in Massachusetts and even Oregon, so he’s no stranger to his new role. 

In the early 2000s, while living in Minneapolis, Sproul met his wife, Kristen, who is originally from Milan. 

Kristen has family in Hancock, and after several visits, the couple, along with their daughter who will be a sophomore at Hancock High School in the fall, decided to relocate in 2021. Sproul says he liked the small-town feel, everybody knowing everybody, and was impressed at the sense of community, and with the academics and athletics that Hancock Schools have to offer. 

It should come as no surprise that in his free time, Sproul enjoys golfing, but he also enjoys cooking, studying finance and economics, and coaching basketball.

When they moved to Hancock in 2021, Sproul joined the Pomme de Terre golf club and quickly fell in love with the rich history and sense of community there. “The course has a fascinating history. Over the years, it has faced many challenges, including fires and financial difficulties, but the resilience of the local course owners and members has always shone through,” he said, “This strong sense of community and determination is what attracted me to the role. I see a lot of potential here and am excited to contribute to its future success.”

For this season, Sproul says his main focus will be building trust. Not only with the members and staff at the club but also with outside organizations, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service. The course has flooded several times in the last few years, and having a good relationship with the Fish and Wildlife Service and keeping them aware that there’s a damaging amount of drainage that comes to the course is a proactive way to keep ahead of it. 

Sproul is going to focus on understanding indoor and outdoor operations and engaging with the team and community. Sproul wants to make sure he forms strong relationships with coworkers and board members by working closely together. 

Sproul also handles the coordination and execution of scheduled events and also coming up with new ones.  “By immersing myself in both outdoor and indoor operations, I aim to set a positive environment for our staff, members and guests,” he said. 

Sproul wants to make sure that the entire team at the golf course is recognized for their hard work and dedication. The outdoor maintenance team, led by Skip Hesse, ensures the course remains in top condition. The team includes Chad Christianson, Tony Thielke, Time Grove, Tyson Grove, Ray Bowman, and Ian Grove. “We have the greatest crew in the world,” Hesse said. Maintenance from major storms in the last few years is still ongoing. Seeding and planting are taking place, as well as the removal of some trees.

Inside, the team is led by Sydney Ottmar, who oversees the day-to-day operations. This team includes Tori Pahl, Abbie Higley, Courtney Hickman, Haley Eagle Chasing, Blake Munson and Angie Berlinger.

Sproul says he is incredibly grateful to have such a talented team. 

As for new things on the horizon for Pomme de Terre golf course, Sproul says he’s hesitant to make any drastic changes early in his tenure. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any updates to be excited about, however. 

The pro shop has a new look with new and expanded apparel options. The driving range is also stocked so it can stay open more often to provide more practice opportunities for anyone trying to get a little more practice in.

This spring, a volunteer clean-up was held to remove storm debris, which made the course more playable, in addition to the newly seeded tee boxes on holes 3, 7, and 10. “Some of our greatest features can also be downfalls – it’s a 100 year old golf course,and with that comes beauty, history and tradition, but it can also mean that maintenance can be trickier,” Sproul said.

“Other than these updates, you can expect the same enjoyable experience as ever,” Sproul said.

There’s always something to look forward to at Pomme de Terre Golf Club, and this season is no exception. Leagues, events and fundraisers are on the horizon.

A pick-up league on Tuesdays, a women’s league and scramble on Wednesdays, and a men’s League and Scramble on Thursdays are ongoing throughout the summer.

Late-night Glowball might be coming back this summer as well. It was a hit last year, so Sproul hopes to make that happen again and says to be on the lookout for it later this season.

Leagues aren’t the only thing to do at the club. Junior golf lessons through community education happen on Tuesdays in June and July, which gives young golfers a chance to practice and grow their skills. 

Several fundraisers are on the schedule this year, including the Firemen’s Fundraiser on June 29, The Hancock Athletic Boosters Fundraiser on July 5, the Minnesota Junior PGA Tournament on July 23, the Cougar Alumni Tournament on July 26, the Superior Outing on July 27, the Tiger Basketball Tournament on August 9, and St, Mary’s Fundraiser on August 16. 

The Women’s Club Championship will be held on August 14, followed by the Junior Golf Year-End Tournament on August 17, and the Men’s Club Championship on August 18.

Willie’s Fun Day on September 11 is one of the later held events of the season.

A lot of these events are open to the public and are a great way to support local charitable organizations and enjoy a fun team-building event for several organizations.

Sproul, when addressing the Pomme de Terre Crew last week, said that about two to three people every week compliment him on how nice the course looks, and he credits all of that to the crew. Not only do they have a great crew, but members and board members volunteer their time to help at the course, and Sproul says he’s not sure if that’s a terribly common happenstance. “What we have here is something special,” he said.