You’ve heard this before: Minnesota is the land of 10,000 water hazards. But one man’s hazard is another man’s lake, which, when not being hit into, provides some of the most beautiful scenery this state has to offer. Therefore, when you combine the two — golf and spending time at the lake — you create the perfect summer pastime. So, here is your guide to some of the best lakeside golf in Minnesota.
The choices are plentiful, as course architects rarely had to look long to work a crystal, blue gem into their design. But the place to start would be the central lakes region, where top-tier golf courses are as plentiful as the lakes that give the area its name.
Gull Lake in the Brainerd-Baxter-Nisswa area is surrounded by three great resorts and their excellent golf courses. Madden’s on Gull Lake has 63 holes of golf including The Classic, which is one of the best courses in the state. Grand View Lodge, which bills itself as the “most awarded golf resort in Minnesota,” features The Pines (with 27 holes), The Garden nine, located on the main grounds on Gull Lake, and The Preserve, just up the road in Pequot Lakes. Plus, Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake includes The Legacy Courses — Bobby’s Legacy and Dutch’s Legacy — and the Reversible 9 course. The collective 144 golf holes of these three fantastic resorts are all you need to find some of the best lakeside golf in the state.
But that’s only the starting point. You can head northwest of the Twin Cities where Alexandria and the surrounding area are home to more great lakeside golf. Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria sits quietly by the edge of Lake Darling and features Atikwa Golf Club. And if you are looking for a family fun option, try the 18-hole putting course that is located just a sand wedge away from the water’s edge.
Up the road in Alexandria, you’ll find Geneva Golf Club on beautiful Lake Geneva. The course includes three nines called Island, Ponds, and Marsh, which offers some indication of the beauty of this west-central Minnesota property. Head a bit further north to Ottertail and you will find Thumper Pond Resort and golf course, which borders Ottertail Lake, but is surrounded by countless other lakes. If you can’t catch a fish in this area, then maybe you need to head back to Thumper Pond Golf Course.
If you are looking for lakeside golf further up north, the Northern Trilogy is the place to find it. Giants Ridge in Biwabik is home to two great courses which are on or near the lakeside. The Legend course features its famous and photogenic hole No. 17, which requires a knee-rattling tee shot over beautiful Lake Sabin. The Quarry, meanwhile, is built on recaptured iron mine land and several holes border the water-filled rugged beauty of the area. Down the road in Tower, the Wilderness at Fortune Bay golf course is the third leg of the Trilogy. All three courses were designed by architect Jeffery Brauer, who incorporates the terrain of the iron range into each course. The Fortune Bay course abuts the shores of Lake Vermillion and provides plenty of memorable vistas of gorgeous northern Minnesota.
Near the Cities
Not enough choices? There are several spots around the Twin Cities that provide a good lakeside golf course view (none better than Stonebrooke Golf Club in Shakopee with the ferry ride across Lake O’Dowd after your tee shot on No. 8).
The bottom line is, locate a golf course in Minnesota, and there is a good chance you’ll find a nice lakeside view nearby. Just try to keep your golf ball dry.