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NEW LONDON, MINN. — When somebody once asked Michael Jordan how many private golf courses he had joined, he said he didn't know but was pretty sure it surpassed the U.S. Golf Association's 14-club limit.

Jim Nantz isn't far off.

"Too many to admit to," said CBS Sports' voice of the Masters.

Nantz, a mainstay of the Augusta major for the past 38 years, is a member at such classic courses as Winged Foot, Merion and Cypress Point.

Now add the Tepetonka Club, a private "destination" course in the making near Willmar aimed at a 2025 opening.

He's officially a design consultant on a nine-hole short course and the namesake for "Jim's Supper Club" planned there.

"I've never had anything golf-related named after me," he said.

Nantz calls himself more of a paying member, club ambassador and supporter of former University of Houston teammate Mark Haugejorde, Tepetonka's chairman and hometown New London-Spicer 1973 state high school co-champion.

"I know my place," Nantz said.

The project includes cabins, a clubhouse, dining, a halfway house, maintenance and management facilities. There's also an 18-hole championship course shaped by its elevation changes, signature cedar trees and meandering Shakopee Creek.

Its routing by up-and-coming Australian design firm OCM — the O stands for 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy — is staked out over 228 acres in Lake Andrew township near Sibley State Park. There also will be a rental "beach house" for members and their families on nearby Green Lake.

The club sold out 20 founding memberships and intends to cap its $100,000 memberships at 100. It's expecting a limit of 90 golfers on the busiest of days.

"It's going to be nationally renowned," said Nantz, 64. "I can't wait to see it."

The project is undergoing a public environmental review until Sept. 7. The Kandiyohi County Board then will decide whether a much more extensive Environmental Impact Statement is needed.

If it isn't, the permitting process for construction could begin by October. Some work could begin this fall with the majority done in 2024 before a 2025 summer opening.

Nantz stopped by for two days last week on his way from his Nashville home to work last weekend's FedExCup playoffs in Chicago and this weekend's season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

He's worked PGA Championships at Chaska's Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2002 and 2009, in a state with an abundance of quality public and private courses. The 2030 U.S. Women's Open returns to Interlachen Country Club in Edina. The Ryder Cup returns to Hazeltine in 2029.

Tepetonka is aimed to be the state's first private "destination" course, built on remote land seemingly made just for golf without moving much earth and visited by members who live nearby and far away. Nebraska's famous Sand Hills was the first in 1994, since replicated several times across that state and in Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

"Minnesota is a state that's sneaky great for golf," Nantz said. "It's hard to be a first of something these days."

CBS sports announcer Jim Nantz (right) and 2006 U.S. Open champion/Australian design firm partner Geoff Ogilvy discussed the lay of the land during a recent visit to the destination golf course Tepetonka in New London, Minn.
CBS sports announcer Jim Nantz (right) and 2006 U.S. Open champion/Australian design firm partner Geoff Ogilvy discussed the lay of the land during a recent visit to the destination golf course Tepetonka in New London, Minn.

Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune

Nantz considers himself a golf lifer who learned both the business and game of golf while cleaning clubs and running bags at a New Jersey pro shop throughout his high school years. He played for a powerhouse Houston team either with, before or just after Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Steve Elkington and White Bear Lake's Dave Tentis.

"I need golf like I need oxygen," he said. "I wanted to be good at it. I was hopelessly in love with the game. It has been a centerpiece of my life for a long time."

Nantz's playing career ended at Houston. His love to be involved with the game continued. He long ago fulfilled an ambition to someday live in Pebble Beach and call the Masters for CBS.

"The dream of my life, since I was a little boy," Nantz said.

He called his last NCAA Final Four last spring, but will continue working NFL games and golf tournaments for CBS. He hopes to do 13 more Masters, which would take him to the tournament's 100th year.

His golf-design résumé includes two works: Nantz, with his own two hands, painstakingly built Pebble Beach's famous short par-3 7th hole to half-scale a decade ago. He has done the same more recently with Augusta National's par-3 No. 12 and its Rae's Creek in his Nashville backyard.

Star NFL quarterbacks and countless PGA Tour players all have taken aim 52 yards downhill in his terraced Pebble Beach backyard. So, too, did Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Twenty-two golfers — including Nantz's 7-year-old son — have their names on a "Rock of Fame" commemorating their holes-in-one. Former broadcast partner Nick Faldo made one on video in 2018 that went viral.

His backyard has proved popular for fundraising events. Nantz said substantial sums have been raised for charity, including the Nantz National Alzheimer's Center named in memory of his dad, Jim Jr., at Houston's Methodist Hospital.

"It has been a real gift for good causes," he said.

He'll need another house — and backyard — to make room for a Tepetonka hole. He plans to visit for a couple of days a couple of times each year. He looks for chances to visit all the courses where he's a member, even if it's just dropping by for breakfast at Merion near Philadelphia when he works an Eagles game.

"They're all special to me," Nantz said. "They've become my homes away from home. I've lived this nomadic life for 38 years. I wish I could spend more time at them. This here is something I'll share as a member. That's the way it works — you bring your guests with you, stay in the cabins and experience this with friends and family.

"My son is a golf fanatic. He's young. By the time we open this thing in '25, he'll be ready to go."