“Who is this Red Mike guy?”
According to The Wonder of Williams, in 1884 a vigilante group of irate stockmen called the Stranglers were in search of cattle and horse thieves.
After reaching the Nesson Valley area(directly east of the golf course), they came across a suspicious looking hunter named Mike. They tied him up to a chair on the top of the hill (middle of the now golf course), lit a fire underneath and demanded information about other thieves in the area.
Mike squirmed and sweated profusely, but didn’t provide any information. He somehow survived the episode and was released without further punishment. He recovered at Fort Buford and was released.
Ever since, the area has been called Red Mike Hill.
“So how did the Links of North Dakota come to be?”
The story of the Links has a bit of history behind it as well.
A man by the name of Stan Weeks had a vision and a passion. In 1992 Stan was able to convenience, Stephen Kay, who was his instructor at a turf and grass course, to design the Links. It took three weeks for Kay’s favorite shaper, Marvin Schlauch, to find the location to build on, but when they did, Kay knew he would never find a better site if he lived to be 95. ” You’d swear it was Ireland,” Kay said.
While true the location was known as Red Mike Hill because it was believed to be the final resting place of a notorious horse thief. The story, however, changes depending on who is doing the telling.
So Weeks had the dream and he had the design, what he needed was a partner. In to the picture comes Mike Ames, Stan’s friend and an irrigation contractor from Williston. It took a couple years of hearing about Stan’s dream, but Mike finally signed on as Weeks’ partner and provided the funds to buy the land. Then came the hard part, convincing the banks!
In 1992 the population of Ray, ND was a little over 500 and Williston was teetering just around 14,000. The entire population of Williams County was just 20,000 people. So to say that bodies were few and far between can only be furthered by saying bodies that golfed were like a swan in a duck pond…a beautiful thing but hard to find.
Despite the fact that the banks declined to back the dream, Weeks and Ames were able to round up $300,000 from 20 area investors, who formed the Red Mike Development Corp. The group had severe budget restraints but were blessed with the virtues of the site. The combination led to an amazingly natural design. Kay barely touched the land. And on July 11, 1995 Red Mike Resort officially opened.
The reviews from Golf Digest call Red Mike “one of the purest expression of links-style golf”. They ranked Red Mike the best course in ND and No.2 in the country in the Best New Affordable category. In 1997 Red Mike was ranked No. 41 on Golfweeks’ Top 100 Modern Courses list.
But with any rose garden, there are a few thorns. Weeks was having a few personal issues that the board didn’t want to deal with and in 1998 they voted to go on without him. And so they did, …for awhile. Further struggling ensued within the remaining board on where to take the vision. That coupled with losing money for the last three years, put a strain on all involved and eventually in October of 2001 the board decided to sell the course.
But while lamentable, the fall of the Red Mike Development Corp, it gave rise to a group whose love for the course went beyond ratings or revenue. They simply wanted to save the course. So was formed the “Save Red Mike, LLC” group.
The course was put on the auction block on February 25, 2002 and successfully purchased by Save Red Mike LLC. Since that time the Links of North Dakota has been awarded top 100 course ratings in the nation numerous times and as of 2020 is ranked No.1 in the state of North Dakota and No.35 in the Nation.