For many people, Labor Day signals the official end of summer. School is about to start but there’s still time for one last getaway with the family, or possibly one last chance to play some golf. So, grab your clubs and make a tee-time at one of our Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance courses. Here are some that are offering Labor Day specials for golf or lodging (or both) that you won’t want to miss.
There aren’t any oceans near the state of Minnesota, but we are known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” so a good view of the water is easy to find when playing golf here. There is something calming about hitting a high approach and watching it descend to the green earth with a view of beautiful blue water as a backdrop. So if you are in the mood for some lakeside golf, your search starts in Minnesota, the land of “sky blue waters.”
From the stunning (there is plenty of private and public golf in Duluth with fantastic views of Lake Superior) to the sublime (holes constructed amidst or surrounded by one of the state’s 10,000 water hazards), Minnesota has a lot of lakeside golf.
Here are a few of the most memorable places to play on your next trip here.
- Giants Ridge in Biwabik — Hole No. 17 of The Legend course is likely the most famous water hole in the state. The beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Sabin is tranquil until you have to pull the trigger on a long iron across a corner of it. The setting is home to abundant wildlife and has hosted engagement dinners, photo shoots, and even weddings; and you will long remember your tee shot there — especially if it is a good one.
- Stonebrooke Golf Club in Shakopee — Lake O’Dowd is hard by holes 8 and 9 at Stonebrooke. The back tees of the par 3 8th require a nervy shot over the water as waverunners race by on the left. And it’s just a few steps to the tee of No. 9, where you need 180-190 yards to cross the lake and have a decent shot from the fairway to the green. Whether you make landfall or splash down, there is a short ferry ride over to the other side with some genial conversation with the ferry driver, who has cold beverages for sale on board.
- Gull Lake in Brainerd — You can find three big names of Minnesota golf in the Brainerd area of the Central Lakes region. Grand View Lodge, Madden’s on Gull Lake, and Cragun’s Resort are all located on beautiful Gull Lake, and together these three resorts provide 144 holes of magnificent and gorgeous lakeside golf. Play at any one and find a challenge for all levels of golfer in your group and countless activities and amenities that make lakeside golf the excellent excursion it is.
A number of years ago, when my kids were younger, my wife and I took the family on a Minnesota golf vacation. The golf, admittedly was more for me since I was alone in wanting to play for three days, but we didn’t have a lot of other activities for the kids to do — and there was much unhappiness. But that has changed. A lot. Now there are Minnesota golf resorts with amenities and activities for the entire family. No longer does golf vacation translate into golf “man-cation” that’s only fun for dad.
Minnesota golf resorts are just simply great vacation destinations. Many of them start with great golf and then surround it with top-notch lodging, excellent fine-dining (and family restaurants), and plenty of attractions on the property or in close proximity. The resorts have figured out that appealing to the entire family gets more people to their resorts for longer stays, and when you satisfy and exceed expectations for everyone in the group (especially the younger people), the chances increase mightily for a return visit.
Here are some great golf courses for kids for a family-friendly golf vacation in Minnesota:
Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minn., is a great place for the family. The golf is fit for everyone from the par 35 nine-hole course called The Garden, to the 27 championship holes of The Pines, and 18 more down the road at the recently-renovated Preserve.
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With two excellent Jeffrey Bauer courses, The Legend and The Quarry, Giants Ridge has long been on most Minnesota golfers’ must-play lists. Giants Ridge head professional John Kendall has been at the resort in Biwabik for 16 years, and has helped it grow into one of the top courses in the country. We talked with Kendall recently, and asked him five questions about those great northern Minnesota tracks.
Q: What makes The Quarry a consistent Top Public Golf Course in America?
A: More than anything, I think that the variety of holes golfers play at The Quarry is the reason it has been so well received. Jeffrey Brauer used the elevation changes on the property to create some memorable views and gave the course a look that you wouldn’t expect from northeast Minnesota. The par 3s and par 5s at The Quarry are all great, but for me, the par 4s really stand out. I’ve never played a course with as good a mix of outstanding short and long par 4s that are not only challenging to play but are also as picturesque as they are.
Q: How is The Quarry different from The Legend? Do they appeal to the same or different kinds of golfers?
“Brown Is The New Green”
You don’t have to look far to discover that the country (and world) are experiencing a water shortage. Simply Google the term water shortage and stories of water issues pop up from all over the globe. The golf industry has always been a major water user, so they have moved to the forefront of dealing with the issues. And in Minnesota, golf superintendents are developing and implementing all kinds of ways to decrease water usage.
A Proud History of Sustainability
Unbeknownst to some, golf course superintendents have long been stewards of the environment. Whether the issue is chemical inputs, green spaces, Audubon sanctuaries or many other issues related to maintaining golf courses as environmentally sound areas, superintendents are generally working to improve the impact of their course on nature.
The latest issue to confront superintendents is water usage, as the country is facing water shortage issues that are heading, in some places, toward crisis levels.
Golf courses have met the issue head on. In 2014 at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C., the viewing public was greeted with slightly startling images of brown areas on the course as the slogan that “brown is the new green” is fast becoming golf’s modus operandi.
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