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Get to Know Golf in the 2016 Ryder Cup Host State
The Ryder Cup is coming to Hazeltine National Golf Club in 2016—the first time ever to the state of Minnesota. For fans of the biennial battle between the United States and Europe golf teams who are making the trip to Minnesota, there is plenty to learn—especially if it is your first trip to the land of 10,000 water hazards.
Minnesota, contrary to popular misconception, is not located near the Arctic Circle and therefore under snow and ice for the entire year. We have a very temperate golf season and get six months (often seven months) of great golf weather in the state. At the time of the Ryder Cup, which takes place in mid-to-late September, it is the peak growing season for Minnesota, and many of the local golf courses are in the best shape they are all year long.
Minnesota has some of the most fertile growing land in the country—which is why many immigrants first settled here—and that goes for growing golf courses, as well. Bentgrass fairways and greens are commonplace in the area, making for excellent playing surfaces. In addition, the University of Minnesota Horticulture department has its own turf grass research program, so new strains of weather and disease-resistant grasses are often being tried and implemented on local courses.
Speaking of the golf courses, Minnesota has hundreds of them–many concentrated in the Twin Cities, plus resort courses and incredible tracks secluded in the northern woods. There are many Minnesota courses that appear on national “Best of” lists.
Escape to a Stillwater Golf Club
When you drive into the grounds at StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater, you become immediately aware that you are in for a special round of golf. The big welcome sign followed by the beautiful tree-lined drive to the clubhouse raises your anticipation level and jumps tarts the excitement about to take place. And once on the course, StoneRidge Golf Club does not disappoint.
Although StoneRidge (which opened its doors in 2000) is located just off interstate 94 in Stillwater, this excellently conditioned Bobby Weed design will soon make you feel as though were transported somewhere else. The links style StoneRidge course features bentgrass fairways framed by native fescue grass. Large undulating greens and rustic irregular bunkering gives you a sense of playing “across the pond,” here in Minnesota.
Each hole is a beauty-scape, yet the calming countryside should not distract you from the task at hand. Water comes into play on only two holes, but there is sand everywhere—sometimes in massive quantities–to swallow up a pretty decent shot. The large bentgrass greens allow for many entries onto the surface, but once there the beguiling undulations make putting a distinct and interesting adventure.
The par 72 championship track can stretch out to 7,013 yards from the tips and has a considerable slope rating of 74.1/139. That includes the 575-yard, par-5 4th hole, which requires a couple excellent shots for a chance at scoring.
Chaska Town Course Should not be Overlooked
It’s possible you may have heard of Chaska Town Course (CTC) but have not played it. The renowned Chaska municipal occasionally gets overlooked due to sitting in the shadow of another great course–Hazeltine National Golf Club—where the national spotlight shines every few years. But CTC has been called one of the best municipals in Minnesota and ranks with some of the best around the country. It should not be missed.
The proximity of the Town Course to Hazeltine (which is located about the length of three par 5s away) has also been a benefit. The CTC has assisted Hazeltine in some national events (the 2003 National Amputee Tournament and 2006 U.S. Amateur) and shared the spotlight (PGA pro Billy Horshel set a club record—12-under, 60–at the Amateur), but the Town Course is worthy of plenty of attention in its own right.
Since Arthur Hills designed Chaska Town Course in 1997, it has been collecting honors:
- Voted top 10 best Golf Courses in Minnesota–Golf Digest
- Once ranked 23rd (currently 36th) in the Top Municipal Golf Courses in the U.S—GolfWeek
- Rated Four and a Half Stars Best Places to Play–Golf Digest
- Named Course of the Year (2009)–Minnesota Golf Association
Enjoy a tour of Twin Cities golf courses.
The Twin Cities metro area is a mecca for golf. There are more than 100 courses within reasonable driving distance from the Twin Cities, and many of them are excellently conditioned championship tracks. If you were on vacation for an entire summer and were content with doing nothing else, you probably still couldn’t play them all. Therefore, here are some tips for a Twin Cities golf tour—in two parts.
This first tour covers some of the great courses in the northern part of the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. There are plenty more than this available, but we will highlight several that you don’t want to miss.
One of the area’s oldest and most popular courses is Braemar Golf Course in Edina. With 36 holes (including an executive par-three course), a huge practice area and an indoor dome, Braemar has been serving golfers since 1964 and doing it well. It’s variety of challenges makes it welcome to all kinds of golfers, and it’s a great place to learn the game. Braemar has been rated among the top 75 public golf courses in the nation by Golf Digest and was named by Golf for Women Magazine as one of its top 100 Women Friendly Courses.
Head west to Chaska to play Chaska Town Course (CTC), which may be the best Twin Cities course you haven’t heard much about. Located about a strong 3-wood from Hazeltine National Golf Club (it’s more famous big brother), CTC has shared duties with Hazeltine when some big golf events come to town. (In 2006 at the U.S. Amateur, Billy Horschel, now a touring pro, set a course USGA record at CTC with a first-round 60.) Though in the shadow of Hazeltine, CTC is no slouch. It has been voted in the top 10 best Golf Courses in Minnesota by Golf Digest and ranked the 23rd Top 100 Municipal Golf Courses in the U.S. by Golf Week.