Updated June 2023 For some avid golfers, the term “family golf vacation” might strike fear…
Updated June 2023
Golf’s handicap system is the great equalizer in the game, but when it comes to someone just starting out, there are other conditions to meet. We should be mindful of the playing ability of our golf partners and how best to match them up with a venue that will help them succeed.
That doesn’t mean beginners have to go to a mini-golf course to learn the game. There are plenty of alternatives to unleashing the uninitiated on a busy public course during peak hours just because it fits into your schedule. It just takes a little research like finding non-peak tee times online, nearby par three/executive golf courses or an 18-hole public golf course with numerous sets of tees for all level golfers. In Minnesota, golfers are treated to many excellent options. Here are five of our favorite local golf courses for beginners.
1) Academy 9 @ Braemar Golf Course — Edina, MN
Braemar Golf Course is a municipal 18-hole Championship course less than a half hour from the airport and downtown Minneapolis. It’s a local favorite, especially after a major course renovation back in 2019. What was once a playable 27-hole public golf staple for Minnesotans is now a “bucket list” 18 hole course that tourists and business travelers can equally enjoy. In addition, for those not ready for the “big course”, The Par 3 Academy 9 Golf Course may be just what you need. It is equipped with two pin placements on each hole and offers an easier flagstick with larger 6-inch cups for the novice golfer. How nice is that? Together with the totally revamped driving range and training area, the par course at Braemar is the perfect Twin Cities course to get any beginner started in the game.
2) Water’s Edge Golf Course @ Stonebrooke GC – Shakopee. MN
Shakopee, Minnesota is home to one of the most memorable golf courses in the state – Stonebrooke Golf Club. This 18-hole course is made complete with its signature 8th hole which includes a 200 yard carry from the tee over a lake. Whether you clear the water or not, you’ll still get to the other side by way of a pontoon boat ride. What could be better? However, this is a course for a more experienced player and for those not ready for the daunting tee shots, Water’s Edge is an executive course operated by Stonebrooke just across the street. A par 30, Water’s Edge has three sets of tees with six par 3’s and three par 4’s, the longest of which plays just over 300 yards. For the beginner the course is just right, and for the more experienced player, it’s the ideal setting to hone short game skills. Regardless, a trip to Water’s Edge is worthwhile for golfers looking for a place to grow their game.
3) The Loop @ Chaska Town Course — Chaska, MN
The Chaska Par 30 is being renovated and will reopen as “The Loop”. It was built in 1971 by the City of Chaska and is related to the Chaska Town Course, not far from the first tee at Hazeltine National Golf Club, where the last Ryder Cup Matches were held (and where it returns in 2028). The Chaska Par 30 will reopen is more than a par three course and has plenty to sink your teeth into if the beginners in your foursome are working to step up their skills. The Robert Trent Jones design has average-sized bent grass greens, wide fairways, and water hazards in play on five holes.
4) Social 9 @ Madden’s on Gull Lake — Brainerd, MN
Planning a little golf into family vacations can be the perfect way to ease a beginner into the game, and there are a couple fabulous resorts in Brainerd to get the most golf out of a family trip. Madden’s on Gull Lake, in addition to the highly-rated Classic, is also home to the “Social 9”, which is billed as “a place to have some fun.” It’s an ideal place for the entire family to learn the game, or find another activity, so a beginner doesn’t burn out from too much too soon. They also have Pine Beach East and Pine Beach West, when those beginners want to take things to the next level.
5) Atikwa Golf Club @ Arrowwood Resort – Alexandria, MN
In Alexandria, MN you’ll find one of the most family friendly golf experiences in the state. The Atikwa Golf Club at Arrowwood Resort is by definition a resort golf course. Yes, it’s extremely playable. No, you won’t lose a million golf balls and yes, it’s a golf course that every member of your family of all ages will feel comfortable and welcomed. To be sure, this is an 18-hole Championship Golf course that will demand the best of every golfer regardless of handicap. At the same time, for the less serious golfer you can ride along and keep your partner company or simply play 9 holes. For the beginner, the 18-hole executive putting course may be enough to hook the reticent golfer. Best of all, no matter if the members in your group are playing golf or not, they can all enjoy the remainder of the day lakeside on beautiful Lake Darling.
So, whether you find a course locally or pack up the car for a weekend away, you’re sure to find a course perfect for beginners and enjoyable for your more skilled players.