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Was there a bunker in your back yard? Rediscovering defunct golf courses in words, pictures and stories.
Was there a bunker in your back yard? Rediscovering defunct golf courses in words, pictures and stories.
66 backers pledged $5,306 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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A golf course in a swamp? On a prison grounds? Next to a sewage disposal plant? Yes, yes and yes – and joined by courses built by millionaires, played by champions and designed by experts. From the crazy to the classy, "Fore! Gone. Minnesota's Lost Golf Courses, 1897-1999" revives more than 80 abandoned layouts, many of them long-forgotten but each a piece of Minnesota history.

The story behind "Fore! Gone.": This project is more than three years in the making (and noodling). It began with an assignment to write about lost golf courses in the Twin Cities for the Summer 2010 issue of Minnesota Golfer Magazine. I was hooked. 

I wrote the magazine story, then was hopelessly intrigued by every other lost golf course I heard about. So I kept looking -- through old newspapers and magazines, at old aerial maps, on the Internet -- and called hundreds of people who might have remembered the old nine or 18 (or even six or eight!) down the road. I heard terrific stories -- like the one about golfers having to watch out for the unfriendly, unfenced hogs that strayed onto one Twin Cities-area course.

I hope you'll enjoy reading about lost golf courses -- and looking at the photos, old and new. The modern-day photos are from Peter Wong, Minnesota's premier golf photographer. That's his great photo on the mock-up of the book cover, above, and a couple of others, below ...

This is Mike Rak, a former champion golfer and wonderful storyteller who knows every nook and cranny on the former Hilltop Public Links course in Columbia Heights. Peter Wong Photography; photo may not be reused without permission.
This is Mike Rak, a former champion golfer and wonderful storyteller who knows every nook and cranny on the former Hilltop Public Links course in Columbia Heights. Peter Wong Photography; photo may not be reused without permission.
This is Thor Nordwall, on the site of the former Matoska Country Club. Nordwall caddied here in the 1930s, and he has a sidebar story that you might not believe. But you should. Peter Wong Photography; photo may not be used without permission.
This is Thor Nordwall, on the site of the former Matoska Country Club. Nordwall caddied here in the 1930s, and he has a sidebar story that you might not believe. But you should. Peter Wong Photography; photo may not be used without permission.

And here is one of my less-skilled efforts:

The site of Nopeming Private Golf Course, Chippewa National Forest.
The site of Nopeming Private Golf Course, Chippewa National Forest.

Just one more thing about the Kickstarter campaign: Reaching my initial goal will allow me to get the book into print, with no frills. I would be delighted to keep going and reach my stretch goal, which would allow the book to be printed on higher-quality, coated paper that would make the photos come alive even further. Thank you so much for your support.

-- Joe Bissen

Risks and challenges

There have been plenty, and there could be more. Self-publishing a book on limited resources has been, as expected, a challenge and a half. The challenges will continue once the book is in print -- marketing, selling, distributing, shipping. But I have forged ahead this far, and I won't stop forging now.
Surely, one challenge will be to promptly get rewards into the hands of those who contribute. I will do everything in my power to live up to my commitments. I most certainly do not take them lightly. Thank you.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Every little bit helps. Every little bit is appreciated. You have earned my heartfelt gratitude and a note of thanks.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    A copy of "Fore! Gone." shipped to your mailbox (U.S. shipping only)

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A copy of "Fore! Gone." signed by the author and shipped to your mailbox (U.S. shipping only), plus one 18 x 24-inch "Go for the Green" poster with the book's cover photo incorporated into it.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A copy of "Fore! Gone." signed by the author and shipped to your mailbox (U.S. shipping only), plus three 8.5 x 11-inch color prints, each from a different lost Minnesota golf course.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Two author-signed copies of "Fore! Gone." shipped to your mailbox (U.S. shipping only)

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    One author-signed copy of the book plus one photo-paper print, up to 20 inches wide, from "Fore! Gone." contributing photographer Peter Wong. The photo will be from Deacon's Lodge in Brainerd, Minn.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    You get to put me to work: One author-signed copy of the book, one "Go for the Green" poster, and I'll caddie for you, nine or 18 holes, at your Twin Cities-area golf course of choice (sorry; you'll have to pick up the greens fee. And keep in mind, I'm better at talking about lost golf courses than I am at assisting with club selection.).

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    One author-signed copy of the book plus one print, up to 20 inches wide and on fine-art paper, from "Fore! Gone." contributing photographer Peter Wong. The photo will be from Deacon's Lodge in Brainerd, Minn.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Wow, you're a major champion. Let's talk lost golf courses. I'll bring my old mashie and cut-up Red Maxfli to the site of your Minnesota lost golf course of choice and conduct a tour of the place, reconstructing it as best I can. Feel free to bring friends along. Also included: six signed copies of the book and six "Go for the Green" posters.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Major Champions Package, Version 2.0. Let's talk lost golf courses. I'll bring my old mashie and cut-up Red Maxfli to your Minnesota golf club -- or any other site you choose -- and talk about lost courses for up to an hour with your group, large or small. Also included: six signed copies of the book and six "Go for the Green" posters.

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Funding period

- (30 days)