Notah Begay III and PBPN Officially Launch Golf Course

MAYETTA: PGA golfer Notah Begay III (Dine) and Tribal Chairman Steve Ortiz officially announced the construction of the Nation’s new Firekeeper Golf Course this morning at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort before a large crowd of news reporters, tribal members and area citizens.

Before the announcement was made, Begay told the Potawatomi News that he was here to look at the progress of the course and to go over the plans and designs on-site with Jeffrey D. Brauer, the course’s architect. Brauer also attended today’s event and is partnering with Begay’s firm NB3 Consulting on the project.

The Firekeeper Golf Course will include 18-holes and sit across from the Prairie Band Casino & Resort on 240 acres.   It will be the first Notah Begay III Signature golf course and is scheduled to open in the second half of 2010 weather permitting.

During the official announcement Begay said, “NB3 Consulting and its partners are extremely excited about the golf course project for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. This course is the culmination of the hard work and vision of the Prairie Band leadership and will serve the community for generations to come.”

Steve Ortiz, tribal council chairman, said, “With all the work that got us to this point and knowing of the tremendous possibilities for the future, I couldn’t be prouder.  It truly makes this a unique entertainment destination and is certain to become the jewel of the Midwest. Firekeeper will be the first and only casino, resort hotel and golf course in the region.”

The course is designed to be one of the premier courses in the Midwest. Unlike many modern golf courses which are part of real estate developments, Firekeeper has no nearby housing. Consequently, it will have the look and feel of a more ‘traditional’ course. This enables players the option to walk, with a short distance from green to tees, but will still be designed to withstand modern golf equipment (the championship tees will be approximately 7,400 yards in length).

Another aspect that is certain to make it a world-class golf course, developers say, is the length to which the environment is being preserved throughout the process. “Keeping with Potawatami traditions,” explained Ortiz, “we are going above and beyond to retain all of the land’s natural elements with minimal disruption.” The course will use all of the original land features to an advantage such as native grasses and vegetation, rolling hills, wind considerations, natural water features and rock formations, and panoramic views.

In fact, golf course architect Jeffrey D. Brauer is considered a pioneer in the environmental preservation of modern golf courses and has written the book Environmental Principles of Golf. “Our goal is to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly property,” he said. “We’re utilizing multiple methods of environmental preservation such as erosion control, rainwater irrigation and limiting water runoff.”

Furthermore, Brauer explained that only about 100,000-125,000 cubic yards of dirt are expected to be moved in creating the golf course. He noted that the median amount of dirt that is usually moved to build a golf course is close to 250,000 cubic yards; some projects move as much as a million cubic yards.

Landscapes Unlimited is based in Lincoln, Neb., and is one of the premier golf course development firms in the world with more than a thousand golf course development projects to its name. Of the 15 collective projects the NB3/Landscapes Unlimited team has worked on for Native American communities, all have received national recognition.

Begay also told the News that he believes there are a lot of capable and hardworking PBPN out there who are going to benefit from working at the Firekeeper Golf Course in the future and that NB3 Consulting has already benefited from the knowledge coming from PBPN employees who’ve offered advice about constructing the course.

When asked if he had a message to carry back to the Prairie Band people, Begay said, “Get out and play some golf, especially you young people. Native American people seem to have a lot more hurdles to overcome than most people and getting involved in golf can help. It’s been a dream come true for me being the only Native American professional on the circuit, and it can be yours too.”