Updated June 2023 For some avid golfers, the term “family golf vacation” might strike fear…
Most people who enjoy watching golf love to play it even more. Nothing fires up a golfer to play a round more than watching the best in the world compete on a great golf course. That’s why folks traveling to Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc., for the 2020 Ryder Cup Matches will also be looking for a great place to tee it up, as well. The Great Northern Golf Trail with numerous top-tier courses in nearby Minnesota is a great place to find one.
Minnesota and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are just a short trip across the border from Wisconsin, and the area is home to numerous challenging and superbly conditioned courses. People who were in the Twin Cities area for the 2016 Ryder Cup matches are likely familiar with the large number and variety of courses to choose from when plotting to hold your own Ryder Cup-format style competition with fellow golf fans.
The first step is to check out the City of Bloomington, Minn., website which features extensive information on the Great Northern Golf Trail—including a list of courses in the area that will be available for play when you are in the neighborhood for the 2020 matches.
There are courses for any golfer and challenges to test every Ryder Cup fan’s ability. Just across the border on Interstate 94 from Wisconsin is the Twin Cities and a plethora of great golf courses. Among the best are Legends Club and The Wilds Golf Club, both located in Prior Lake, just south of the metropolitan area.
Legends Club is filled with dramatic wooded areas, challenging wetlands and exquisite conditioning that provides a bit cities escape. Legends Club is the “only golf course in the Midwest ever named ‘National Golf Course of the Year’ from the NGCOA,” according to the Bloomington website, and it is waiting for your arrival.
Meanwhile, The Wilds GC is a wild roller coaster ride of golf excitement just down the road. With elevation changes as high as 150 feet, you have to “strap in” when taking on this thrilling track. Natural grasslands, lush forests and shimmering lakes accent the 7,028 yards of this award-winning Tom Weiskopf design.
Take the Great Northern Golf Trail to the central lakes region of the state and you can immerse yourself in a golf adventure unlike many you have experienced. Home to 207 holes of golf on 12 courses, the area will treat everyone in your group (from novice to expert) to a golf challenge they will long remember. Like traveling back to the “Shire” of golf, the woods and lakes of the area are reminiscent and relaxing as the lush, green forests of New Zealand while the well-appointed resort lodgings are as cozy and accommodating as a hobbit’s home.
Four of the most renowned resorts there are Madden’s on Gull Lake, home to The Classic (one of “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” according to Golf Digest), The Legacy Courses at Cragun’s (36 of the best holes of golf you’ll find anywhere), Grand View Lodge (with The Pines and The Preserve that each tantalize your golf senses and challenge your game) and Breezy Point Resort which features Deacon’s Lodge, a course carved out of the woods that is considered one of the legendary Arnold Palmer’s best.
If you are looking for a respite from the raucous chants and cheering at the tightly fought and fiercely contested Ryder Cup Matches, then travel the Great Northern Golf Trail just a little farther to the quietude of the northern Minnesota Iron Range. Giants Ridge in Biwabik is home to two remarkable tracks—The Legend and The Quarry—that provide a unique golf experience amongst the tall and silent pines of the norther Minnesota. Just down the road in Tower you will The Wilderness at Fortune Bay, where golf amongst the dense forests and crystalline northern lakes is the perfect memory with which to end your Ryder Cup adventure.
But take note, this unparalleled golf experience will soon have you looking forward to 2028, when the Ryder Cup Matches return to Minnesota and you can golf The Trail all over again.