For a state with such a short golf season as Minnesota, I’m surprised to see so many good courses and so many passionate golfers. What I have come to learn is that I only scratched the surface of great golf the state has to offer. I could probably make another 3-4 trips before I would play all that would be essential Minnesota golf.
Of course, the bulk of must-plays are found in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. There are the well-known Interlachen CC, Hazeltine National GC and White Bear Yacht Club. If you like older courses, MSP has plenty of them with a variety of architects. Everyone from Donald Ross, Seth Raynor and A.W. Tillinghast are represented. These courses include: Minikahda CC, Golden Valley CC, Somerset CC, Minneapolis GC, Minnesota Valley CC, Midland Hills CC, Oak Ridge CC, Woodhill CC, North Oaks GC and Mendakota CC. The metro can even claim the second oldest club where golf is still played at its original location in Town & Country Club.
If you’re looking for modern private courses, you can be well served at Windsong Farm GC and Spring Hill GC (though access here is notoriously difficult). There is a TPC course, if you’re into that.
If you lack access to the private clubs, no problem. Keller Golf Course, a two-time host of the PGA Championship, can be played for a very reasonable fee. Other spots to check out would be StoneRidge and Rush Creek, which hosted the now defunct USGA Amateur Public Links Championship.
Outside of MSP, you can find one of the better Donald Ross designs at Nortland CC in Duluth. Go further north and you find gems like Giants Ridge (Quarry), The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, Grand View Lodge (Deacon’s Lodge), Madden’s (Classic) and Giant’s Ridge (Legends).
The private clubs in the state are surprisingly accessible. I’ve been told this by members of some clubs around MSP as well as my experience arranging a game. Standard reciprocal rules apply. If you play outside the the Memorial Day to Labor Day period, and play on a weekday, you have a pretty good chance. I suggest checking out the Minnesota Golf Association’s media guide for detailed information on guest fees. My experience with the clubs I played tells me the guest fees are accurate. Yes, you can likely get on Hazeltine National; but, you will pay a pretty high unaccompanied guest fee unless you know a member. Maybe skip that one in 2016, as I hear their UNA is ever higher in the Ryder Cup year.
As far as travel goes, the area is very accessible. You can find direct flights into MSP from pretty much anywhere in the east and midwest. From the west, major cities should have no problem getting a direct flight. The courses in the north are about 3.5 hours away, and Duluth is 2 hours away. Outside of that, you can navigate the MSP metro fairly easily in an hour, from Wayzata to White Bear Lake.
If you need to do stuff outside of golf, there are countless entertainment options. Scores of good restaurants and breweries are available. A must stop is Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, and one of the best ballparks in baseball.
I will assure you that the Minnesota Office of Tourism did not sponsor this post. However, if they want to sponsor another trip for me back to the Twin Cities, I won’t refuse. 🙂