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UND still paying for Ray Richards golf course despite no future plans to sell

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)—A retired golf course has been stirring debate amongst many local golfers since it shut down last year.

Ray Richards was a staple in the Grand Forks community since the University of North Dakota opened it in the 1960s. However, the course was shut down last fall, after university officials deemed it was quote "no longer within the core mission of the university."

Since its closure, many golfers and non-golfers have been wondering what the university now has in store for this large parcel of land.

"It’s a beautiful day out here—can’t beat the fall colors,” said golfer Travis Brown.

Golfers Travis Brown and Shaun McNamara are enjoying a round at Valley Golf in East Grand Forks.

And while the golfers enjoy the course—

"It would be nice to have more good courses. You can never have too many golf courses,” said McNamara.

There is something they are missing.

"We don't have an affordable place to go place golf anymore,” said Brown.

Ray Richards was a staple in Grand Forks –a short, a short 9 -hole course with affordable prices and student discounts.

But now the course is abandoned. The only foot traffic it sees is from gardeners and landscapers who make sure the grass is within city code.

"it is not a core mission of the university. It wasn't a profitable venture that we could use those proceeds for other core aspects of the university,” said UND VP of Facilities, Mike Pieper.

According to records provided from UND, the course wasn't all that profitable—only netting around 20 thousand dollars in 2014-2015, and losing around 6 thousand dollars the previous year.

But currently the university spends nearly eight thousand dollars just to keep the grounds up to code, while no one plays on them.

According to University officials, they are currently assessing the course and have no idea what the future holds for it.

"It's just a bigger property with much more going on. So until we really and truly understand the property and what its use should be long-term, we are just on hold,” said Pieper.

Which frustrates golfers.

"I think that they should at least have the people cover the costs to keep it running every year. They should at least cover those with play and offset the manicuring costs by having it open as a golf course. So it didn’t make any sense to me when they shut it down a year earlier than they were going to make a decision,” said Brown.

The university is weighing a number of different options as to what to do with the course. However, they tell us that they will not make a decision on its future until the spring of 2018.