The days of Willow Ridge Golf Course serving as a hands-on classroom for Iowa Central Community College students in the turf management and culinary arts programs are coming to an end.
The university will no longer operate the golf course after its current season ends Dec. 1, Central Iowa President Jesse Ulrich wrote in a letter to Willow Ridge members.
He wrote that culinary arts students will continue to work in the course restaurant through the end of the 2022-2023 academic year and can do so even after the school year ends.
Iowa Central Community College has owned and operated the golf course and restaurant at 1788 Madison Ave. northwest of Fort Dodge since 2010.
In his letter to club members, Ulrich wrote that concerns about the state of the course, difficulty hiring and retaining employees, and financial losses led to the decision to close the course. He wrote that over the last eight years, Central Iowa has lost almost $1.8 million in the Willow Ridge operation.
“We are really looking at all the options for this property,” Ulrich said Thursday afternoon.
He said the turf management program will move to the Fort Dodge Country Club. He said the country club is the home course for the men’s and women’s golf teams. He added that it is much closer to the university’s main campus.
“We are grateful that Fort Dodge Country Club is willing to partner with us,” he said. “We hope to be a positive attribute for the country club.”
Willow Ridge was formerly the American Legion Golf Course. It was donated to the university by Don and Dianne Decker of Fort Dodge.
“We are very grateful for your donation”, Ulrich said. “It has given our children a wonderful opportunity to learn in the real world.”