Jim Nantz named design consultant on short course at club being designed by Geoff Ogilvy and his partners at OCM
Jim Nantz and his former college teammate have united to make their dreams come true.
Mark Haugejorde is the chairman of Tepetonka, a 228-acre, private golf destination two hours west of the Twin Cities, which is set to break ground this year. Having signed the design firm of OCM Golf – consisting of PGA Tour pro Geoff Ogilvy, Mike Cocking and Ashley Meade – to its first original U.S. design, Haugejorde announced Tuesday that esteemed CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz will serve as a design consultant on the creation of The Prox, the club’s short course.
“I’ve always had this dream if I wasn’t a broadcaster, I think the most fun thing to be a part of is to shape the Earth and be in golf course architecture,” Nantz said during “The Five Clubs” podcast with host Gary Williams, course architect Gil Hanse and ESPN college basketball analyst and avid golfer Jay Bilas on March 1.
Haugejorde happened to be listening to the podcast one day in his office as his old teammate from their days playing on the golf team at the University of Houston shared his dream to leave his mark on the Earth, and Nantz’s words stopped him in his track.
“What did he just say?” Haugejorde recalled. “It hit me right away. Jim was always going to be involved as a founding member, but I had this idea that he could have an even bigger role.”
Jim Nantz, center, poses with Mike Schultz, left, and Mark Haugejorde of Tepetonka Club at Oak Hill during the 2023 PGA Championship. (Adam Schupak/Golfweek)
Nantz’s previous design work is limited to the replica hole of the iconic par-3 seventh hole at Pebble Beach that he designed in his backyard not far from the real thing.
“I’m not trying to compare that with something as important as what the OCM guys are going to do, but I’ve really truly dreamt of this,” Nantz told Golfweek. “I can’t wait to put on the mud boots and go out and talk it through with these guys. I know my role here, the OCM team, they’re geniuses. I can’t wait to just to learn from them and get to throw in one little suggestion – ‘Move this over here.’”
“Having had the opportunity to spend some time with Jim recently, it became apparent that he has a keen interest in golf course design and specifically in short courses,” said OCM’s Cocking. “The Prox will be integrated into Tepetonka’s practice facility, and we’re looking forward to working with Jim on the design. His input and experience will be invaluable in what we’re creating.”
Haugejorde, who once served as general manager of Jack Nicklaus International, is following in the footsteps of his father, who during a stint in the military was asked to build a golf course for the officer’s club in Japan in 1947. Later, his father spearheaded efforts to build Little Crow Country Club (now a 27-hole facility known as Little Crow Resort), a public course in West Central Minnesota. Haugejorde found land for Tepetonka where he used to go pheasant hunting as a kid. The origin of the club’s name stems from a visit to the local historical society by Haugejorde’s intern, who found an article detailing that there had been a Tepetonka Hotel nearby on Green Lake, one of the state’s beautiful bodies of water.
“The article said that people would come from neighboring states to enjoy the clean water and great fishing. I thought they’re coming from neighboring states to come enjoy the great golf,” Haugejorde said. “Tepetonka stands for big house, and the brand is really taking off.”
Haugejorde took a similar leap of faith in signing OCM as his design team. Ogilvy came highly recommended by Gregg Tryhus, the owner of Grayhawk Development and the visionary behind Whisper Rock, a 36-hole private facility in north Scottsdale, Arizona, where Ogilvy is a member. One of Minnesota’s favorite golfing sons Tim Herron also seconded the suggestion. Haugejorde did his due diligence, checking the firm’s work at Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas, but again it was a podcast that played a pivotal role in his decision. Driving across Florida to meet with his first two members, Haugejorde listened to an interview with Cocking.
“I swear, if it’s possible, he was talking to me,” Haugejorde said.
Australian-based OCM, which is also doing a dramatic renovation of Medinah No. 3 near Chicago, was hired to design Tepetonka even though they’d neither met Haugejorde in person nor walked the property where the course will be built due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and only had seen drone footage.
A map of the course routing of Tepetonka, a private destination golf course being built west of Minneapolis by the design firm OCM. (Courtesy Tepetonka)
Tepetonka is Minnesota’s first entry into the private golf destination category, despite the state being renowned the world over for hosting events at historic venues. Haugejorde said the club would include lodging and a supper club. Douglas Fredrikson Architects has been selected to design the clubhouse and other buildings. Mike Schultz, who served as the longtime pro at Hazeltine National (1976-2012), including one summer when Haugejorde worked for him during college, will be the director of golf emeritus.
Tepetonka’s business model is designed for 20 founding members and 100 memberships in all. Play will be limited to a maximum of 90 players per day.
“It’s fractional ownership like NetJets, where you own a piece of the plane, here you own a piece of the golf course,” he said. “There are no dues. Instead you pre-purchase your golf days, everyone agrees to buy so much access for the golf course. So, everybody’s got the same amount, and it’s never crowded. We’ve got lodging and a supper club and it’s your course to come out and have as much fun as you want.”
He added: “The goal for each member or guest’s day is summed up in the phrase: ‘Can’t wait to get there – hate to leave!’ ”
Nantz is scheduled to get his boots muddy with OCM in August and will be back early in the NFL season when the Minnesota Vikings host the Kansas City Chiefs. Construction is set to commence in October, and the course, which is set to be a par 70 measuring 6,765 yards from the tips, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2025.
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mark Haugejorde for over 40 years, and Tepetonka is his life’s calling,” Nantz said. “I think it’s going to be legendary. Minnesota is a golf-crazed state, and this is going to be a showcase course for Minnesota and America.”