A strong partnership makes Keller Golf Course an award-winning ecological preserve.
Operated by Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, Keller Golf Course is a beautiful public track located east of Lake Keller in the Phalen Chain of Lakes Corridor. Keller has a rich golf history by hosting the PGA Championship in 1932 and 1954. It has received national attention by being ranked in the top 100 public courses in the United States. Since 2003, Watershed staff has partnered with Superintendent Paul Diegnau to efficiently manage water runoff and create extensive ecologically diverse natural areas while at the same time preserving a top-flight golf experience. In the past two decades, 30 acres of natural space have been restored, supporting well over 200 native plant species. Keller Golf Course now has the most and highest quality natural areas of any golf facility in the Twin Cities.
-Transform 30 acres of no-play areas into ecologically diverse wetland, upland, and woodland habitats
-Infiltrate over 80% of the course runoff
-Create aesthetically pleasing views for golfers
-Educate golf patrons about water management and ecological restoration
-Provide an example for other courses on how to strike a balance with natural ecological systems and golf course management
-Maintain the restoration areas over the long-term
Today, Keller Golf Course is a nationally certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. More than 110 bird species have been identified on its grounds. A reproducing osprey pair has called Hole #12 their home for the last two years. The adults stalk prey in the natural buffer along the water hazard and in nearby Keller Lake. A few years back, the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts awarded Keller Golf Course with Project of the Year honors. Most notably, on top of these accolades, Keller continues to efficiently manage runoff and provides high-quality, ecologically diverse habitat within the Phalen Chain of Lakes Corridor.
The Watershed began working with Diegnau in 2003 by providing technical and financial support to install a natural shore buffer around a water hazard, an innovative practice at the time. In 2012, the course underwent a 12 million dollar renovation and was closed for two years while fairways and greens were being overhauled. This renovation provided an opportunity for a large-scale $250,000 ecological restoration and water management project funded by the Watershed, Ramsey County, and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. All restoration work was conducted in-house by Watershed and Ramsey County staff. The vast majority of the native plant material was grown by the Ramsey County Corrections Greenhouse facility. A variety of civic groups and hundreds of student volunteers helped to install thousands of native plants. Watershed and Ramsey County staff also installed educational signage describing the key benefits of the project. Today, the natural areas are maintained by Watershed staff and an intern that is funded by the course. Both the Watershed and Ramsey County Parks are committed to maintaining and improving this ecological restoration over the long term.